Australia’s MidCoast area is located on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales, about 320 kilometres north of Sydney. It has a population of some 92,462 people spread across an area of 10,000 square kilometres.
MidCoast Council was formed in 2016 through the merger of the Great Lakes, Greater Taree and Gloucester Shire Councils, along with the Water Authority and has 900 plus employees based in over 70 different locations. Like any local authority organisation, virtually anywhere in the world, people would not be able to do their jobs effectively and services would grind to a halt without a robust and effective IT system. The responsibility of delivering and managing this IT infrastructure falls to Nev Finch, Manager of Information and Communication Systems at MidCoast Council and his colleagues in the IT department.
Underpinning the IT infrastructure are five data centres in different locations across the region as well as both private and public clouds. A key priority for the IT team is to always strive to improve employee productivity, efficiency and flexibility, while making the user’s application experience as seamless and simple as possible. As part of this ongoing-drive, Nev Finch recognised the limitations of his existing load balancing technology. The Network Load Balancing (NLB) provided as part of the Windows Server infrastructure was struggling to cope with peak traffic demand and plans to roll-out Skype for Business would only compound the problems. For multi-media, real-time applications such as Skype for Business, any interruptions or latency quickly create problems and affect productivity.
As a result, the decision was made to invest in new load balancing systems to replace the limited existing functionality. After investigating the options and exploring what was on the market, Nev Finch opted for Kemp. “We selected Kemp based on its technology and reputation, but also the total cost of ownership and the value proposition it presented compared to other alternatives,” said Nev.
MidCoast purchased two Virtual Loadmaster 200 and two Virtual LoadMaster 2000 appliances from Kemp to support Exchange, Sharepoint and Active Directory (ADFS). Nev and his team also used the Kemp load balancers to replace a Citrix Netscaler appliance to provide reverse proxy services for three separate web servers.
To the relief and delight of the IT team, the total installation and configuration took less than half a day and the results were instant. “We saw immediate benefits in Exchange and ADFS for our 900 users and for running reverse proxy services across our web sites,” said Nev.
There are now other areas where MidCoast Council wants to use Kemp for load balancing hybrid cloud deployments with its data centres. As Nev explains, “For the next stage of our Kemp installation we intend to utilise the Kemp Geo Load Balancing functionality as part of our strategy to provide multi-site resilience with seamless failover and failback. By pushing ADFS into Azure and AWS, we can embrace multi-cloud in conjunction with our on-prem data centre to provide application resiliency and availability in the hybrid-cloud. In the event of a service disruption, traffic will automatically be redirected to minimise impact and the need for manual intervention.”
MidCoast has the option of using the Kemp 360 application experience fabric for centralised management of its loadbalancing estate. Kemp 360 simplifies how applications can be optimised, analysed and secured across any mix of on-premises and cloud environments. And it’s a flexible solution that will grow with them.
For Nev Finch and his team, Kemp load balancers have already exceeded expectations and provide the flexibility and scalability to build on as they deploy more applications. But one thing above all has impressed Nev: “We have only had to contact Kemp Support once to understand how to license the devices and this was a fantastic experience. If we need help with advanced configuration, I am confident the support team is there to assist. The Kemp devices just work. Once installed and configured we could basically forget about them - because they do their job.”
After moving across to Kemp, we have seen significant improvements in performance and for our users that translates to an improved user experience. Ease of use is the other major benefit compared to our previous Windows Application Proxy and Citrix solution and the Kemp load balancers are far more stable. Changes can be made easily without affecting performance and the devices are extremely reliable.Nev Finch