Incorporated by Royal Charter in 1514, Trinity House is the General Lighthouse Authority (GLA) for England and Wales, responsible for nearly 600 Aids to Navigation including lighthouses, buoys, beacons and latest satellite navigation technology. The corporation is also a major maritime charity dedicated to the safety, welfare and training of mariners.
The IT team, in addition to supporting normal organisational services such as email, web services, project management, also maintains the network that monitors the lighthouses that guide mariners safely around the busy waters of the United Kingdom, including the Dover Strait - the busiest shipping lane in the world.
With 95% of the goods imported into the UK arriving by sea, ensuring ships arrive safely is extremely important not just to the mariners. Any downtime that might affect Trinity House’s network or remote sites must be kept to a minimum.
Each site has a number of network devices such as firewalls, switches and routers from several different vendors including Bluecoat, Cisco, Checkpoint, HP and Nokia. Whilst the equipment is chosen for its stability, outages still affect even the most resilient networks, as Gavin Race Network Manager for Trinity House explains.
“It doesn’t have to be a dramatic event to cause a network outage, a simple mis-configuration can have exactly the same effect. What really counts is how quickly you can recover from it,” he says. “Before using Restorepoint we backed up the configurations of our network devices manually. It was a time consuming task that took a few hours each time and we had considerably fewer devices then than we do now.”
Backing up configuration settings for multiple network devices manually was so labour intensive for Trinity House that it was only carried out once a month. This is left a period of time where the corporation was potentially at risk if a device failed or needed to be restored and changes had been made to the network in between backup schedules.
Recovering from a hardware failure or an outage caused by human error (misconfiguration), should be a relatively simple operation for most organisations. However, it frequently takes longer expected because a backup of the previous working configuration is not up-to-date. This only adds to the pressure of a network outage, as engineers attempt to rectify the situation by making live changes or rebuilding a configuration to its last known state from what they remember.
Even where scripts are used to automate the configuration backup process, manual recovery is still required. Scripted backups may also not work as intended because each script requires regular maintenance and testing to ensure that what is being backed up can actually be recovered.
“Deploying Restorepoint has allowed us to completely automate the backup of our network devices,” continues Gavin. “All of our network devices can be managed from a centralised console and backups can be scheduled as frequently as required. We also receive notification whenever a device is altered.”
“With Restorepoint, it doesn’t matter if you’re recovering from the failure of a core switch or a simple problem with an access port, restoring the configurations is an easy and fast process,” he concludes.
Restorepoint’s network automation solutions enables organisations to increase availability, security and compliance across their multi-vendor network infrastructure. From a central network device dashboard, companies can centralise automate manual processes including network configuration backup, change detection, compliance auditing and orchestrate bulk network changes for more than 100 vendors.