Harris County District Attorney's Office

160+ Customers

Hosted Exchange Server

Several Thousand

Mailboxes

Citrix Netscaler

Rip and Replace

The Problem

The Harris County District Attorney’s Office required an intelligent load balancing solution with Geographic Server Load Balancing (GSLB) functionality, to provide high availability for its mission critical applications and multi-resiliency across its production and disaster recovery site in the event of a critical resource failure.

Why Kemp

The Harris County District Attorney’s Office evaluated several leading ADC vendors and chose Kemp based on the LoadMaster’s high performance capabilities and the rich feature set available with Kemp’s Enterprise Plus Subscription including GSLB. With several internal projects happening simultaneously, they required a simplified and accelerated deployment which could be offered with Kemp Professional Services.

The Solution

Kemp Professional Services worked with the Harris County District Attoney’s Office to deploy 4 x LM-4000 appliances in HA pairs with GLSB functionality enabled across their production and disaster recovery environments, providing high availability and multi-resiliency for their Exchange 2016 platform and other mission critical applications.

Challenge

The Harris County District Attorney’s Office serves a population of over four million in the Houston metropolitan area, making it the populous county in the state of Texas and the third most populous in the United States. Under the leadership of Kim Ogg, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office is comprised of 329 prosecutors, 90 investigators and 277 support personnel who are dedicated to making their community safer through evidence-based prosecution.

The District Attorney’s office utilizes technology to improve case management, service to their constituents and employee accountability. The Office’s continuous uptime of critical applications such as Microsoft Exchange 2016 and web services, ensures the efficient delivery of its services to all stakeholders.

The District Attorney’s Office IT infrastructure consists of two data centers, a production site located on site in downtown Houston and a Disaster Recovery (DR) site hosted off site with a hosting provider. To ensure high availability during an outage to the DR site, the District Attorney’s Office required an intelligent load balancing solution that could direct failover traffic from the production site.

As the District Attorney’s Office IT team had resources allocated to several internal projects running simultaneously, including the migration from Exchange 2010 to 2016, they required a vendor that could provide a load balancing solution, combined with a configuration service to assist them in achieving a simplified and accelerated deployment.

Solution

After the District Attorney’s Office evaluated several of the leading vendors, they chose Kemp based on the rich feature set offered with the Kemp LoadMasters. To provide resilient delivery of their critical application workloads, they chose the LM-4000, which delivers up to 8Gbps L7 throughput and 2500 SSL transactions per second.

The District Attorney’s Office also took advantage of Kemp’s Enterprise Plus Subscription Service, which enabled the Geographic Sever Load Balancing feature (GLSB). This important infrastructure addition integrates with the Kemp LoadMaster to provide multi-site resilience with seamless failover and failback in the event of a critical resource failure.

As security was a high priority during the deployment, the District Attorney’s Office sought to integrate RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service) to enable remote access servers to communicate with a central server to authenticate dial-in users and authorize their access to the LoadMaster. Kemp’s Edge Security Pack (ESP) features (also included in the subscription level) offered the District Attorney’s Office the chance to quickly and effectively implement a secure solution that was able to fully integrate into existing policies, minimizing any disruption.

Implementation

As the District Attorney’s Office IT team had time and resources invested into several ongoing internal projects, they partnered with Kemp’s industry-leading Professional Services team to accelerate the deployment time, ensure best practices and receive expert guidance on the optimal configuration of the Kemp LoadMasters.

Commenting on the value proposition offered by Kemp’s Professional Services team, Rob Duggan, Business Development Manager of Support and Professional Services at Kemp said,

“the goal of Kemp Professional Services is to help customers rapidly adopt Kemp’s application delivery fabric enabling them to achieve improvements in their day to day business operations, such as improved reliability, availability, application security or application optimisation etc. The overall objective is to support our customers in translating operational gains in to real competitive advantage.”

Upon requesting a Professional Services engagement, Kemp initiated its proven and quality-assured workflows to support the engagement. The District Attorney’s Office received a response from a highly experienced Kemp delivery Engineer within an hour. A pre-configuration call was arranged to discuss the scope of the project and an agreed statement of work was produced and signed by Kemp and the District Attorney’s Office. The initial consultation enabled the District Attorney’s Office to save a significant amount of time during the critical configuration, deployment and workload validation phases of the deployment.

Kemp Engineers followed the agreed statement of work, enabling 4 x LM-4000 appliances in HA pairs across the production and disaster recovery environment and designing a two-arm configuration for Exchange 2016 that supported over 800 active users.

Upon completion of the initial LoadMaster configuration and failover testing validation, the next element of the workflow was to configure GLSB to provide multi-site resilience. Kemp’s team spent time with the District Attorney’s IT Administrators, giving guidance on the best practices and optimal configuration needed on external systems and toolsets to achieve their objectives.

The initial configuration of the LoadMasters was completed within two days. Further internal stress testing was undertaken by the District Attorney’s office before moving into full production. As part of the service, Kemp ensured the same 3rd line engineer team who supported the installation and configuration was available in case of questions. This same team was on call during cut over to ensure a smooth transition.

 
“Our technical liaison was very knowledgeable and personable and made themselves available at all hours when we were to make changes to our production environment and test those changes.”
Rurik Wilmot, Senior Systems Administrator for Harris County.

Handover

A critical aspect of a professional services engagement upon a successful implementation is the handover phase. All Kemp remote configuration services come with a customer specific administration handover. Kemp Engineers engaged with the District Attorney’s IT Administrators to complete a full transfer of information relating to their configuration, so they could manager their environment with ease going forward. Included in the handover is training on the LoadMaster, allowing administrators to utilize its rich feature set.

Commenting on the value the training and handover phase provides to customers, Rob Duggan, Business Development Manager of Support and Professional Services at Kemp said,

“Kemp Professional Services cannot simply stop post installation. Customers who don’t plan training and enablement phases within projects are usually left with a point solution unable to help their organisation realise the full benefits. Our methodology ensures training is a key delivery point of every engagement, customers know post install Kemp’s team will give guidance and training on the GUI interface, bespoke config details and enablement for teams to effectively escalate support requests in the future.”

Results

The District Attorney’s Office has now ensured availability for their critical applications with the Kemp LoadMasters providing high availability across both their production and DR sites. In the case of a critical resource failure, the District Attorney’s Office can remain confident in maintaining business continuity with Kemp GSLB providing multi-site resiliency, ensuring no adverse effects are experienced by stakeholders.

Thanks to the expert guidance provided by the Kemp Professional Services team, the District Attorney’s IT Administrators have achieved a best practice implementation and managed to greatly simplify and speed up the configuration process. Kemp Engineers went beyond reducing deployment overhead, ensuring that administrative staff had the necessary information on hand relating to their configuration so that they were fully prepared to maintain the environment going forward.

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