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Devon & Cornwall Police has more than 5000 police officers and support staff, making it one of the largest police services in England and Wales. Its policing area extends 180 miles and is largely rural, with a population of just 1.5 million, although this grows to eight million during the summer season.


IN BRIEF

Industry

  • Police Service

Challenges

  • Existing WAN difficult to manage and expensive to maintain
  • Needed a flexible, cost effective WAN solution that could easily adapt to changing business requirements

Solution

  • 37 Riverbed Steelhead appliances

Benefits

  • Avoided expensive and disruptive bandwidth upgrade
  • IT investment protected
  • 70 percent average reduction in data traffic across the WAN
  • Improved employee efficiency

Devon & Cornwall Police

Police service avoids expensive network upgrade and protects IT investment utilizing Riverbed

Background:

Devon & Cornwall Police has more than 5000 police officers and support staff, making it one of the largest police services in England and Wales. Its policing area extends 180 miles and is largely rural, with a population of just 1.5 million, although this grows to eight million during the summer season.

Challenge: Managing a large rural area resulted in expensive network options that were difficult to implement and costly to upgrade

Devon & Cornwall Police employees rely on a number of key applications, including Microsoft SharePoint, Exchange and Office, plus police-specific applications, such as crime systems an intelligence systems. However, the sheer size of the police area, coupled with the low density population, makes it challenging to provide IT resources to service employees. “Our officers need access to IT within a reasonable distance, so we require a very large spread of sites,” explains James Goodwin, Devon & Cornwall Police network manager. “There are around 190 sites connected to the police wide area network (WAN), with 80 of them being small sites, often on shared premises, such as schools, hospitals, and council offices.”

Although the largest sites use high-speed fiber or Extended Ethernet connections, the large geographical area makes it difficult and expensive to provide fast, secure connectivity to all sites. Fiber, for example, is scarce and expensive to install over long distances, so the 80 small sites use a secure, low-bandwidth ADSL connection. The ADSL link typically provides a 2-5 Mbps data rate, although some sites struggle to achieve a 1Mbps speed. “The ADSL connection was fine if you only had one or two desktops or laptops connected to it, but if you wanted to double the number of computers, the bandwidth couldn’t support them. This limited the number of employees who could access applications and data, reducing staff productivity and efficiency,” notes Goodwin.

“In addition, many small sites are based at temporary locations, which had further cost implications for us. Most of the upgrade solutions involved a large, upfront fee in bandwidth infrastructure, so every time we moved site, we would lose all of that expenditure. We needed a cost effective solution that also addressed the issue of investment.”

Solution: Riverbed provides a flexible, cost effective solution with fast deployment

Devon & Cornwall Police saw WAN optimization as a potential solution to the bandwidth issue, and looked at products from a number of vendors. “Many of the products required us to add hardware or software to the router,” says Goodwin, “but as most of our network is purchased as a managed service, we don’t own the routers or the links, so these weren’t practical. The key advantage offered by Riverbed Technology was that the Riverbed® Steelhead® appliance is a selfcontained solution – it’s a single device that you can simply pick up and use elsewhere.”

Devon & Cornwall Police conducted a proof of concept (POC), using Steelhead appliances to address a real-life challenge, “Bandwidth utilization was an issue at one of our sites and we needed a quick fix. Upgrading the site from a copper-based network to a fiber-based network was going to take months and cost tens of thousands of pounds. We thought that WAN optimization might offer a fast resolution to the problem,” says Goodwin. Within ten days of contacting Riverbed, Devon & Cornwall Police received two Steelhead appliances, plus on-site support from Riverbed for the POC.

Goodwin adds, “You look at some technologies and their statistics look impressive, but you’re not convinced they would work as well in your own environment. With Riverbed; the results were impressive. The POC results included an average 70 percent reduction in WAN traffic, with log-on times reduced by around 40 percent. These results convinced us to purchase 37 Steelhead appliances for deployment at many of our smaller sites.”

Benefits: Expensive bandwidth costs avoided, more efficient use of IT resources,improved employee efficiency and IT investment protected

Deploying a Riverbed WAN optimisation solution has resulted in an average 70 percent reduction in WAN traffic and enabled Devon & Cornwall Police to make significant savings. “For some sites, upgrading the network to achieve the same level of performance we get from the Steelhead appliances would cost around six times more in installation costs alone. Annual rental charges would add thousands of pounds to this figure, per site,” notes Goodwin.

“At Devon & Cornwall Police, we are now able to manage our IT resources more efficiently, improve employee efficiency and we’ve protected our IT investment. We can now run twice as many desktops or laptops on an ADSL line and that’s had a significant impact on efficiency. Riverbed has made our IT systems more flexible and easier to use at the smaller sites. It’s increased the size and scope of the sites able to use secure, encrypted ADSL efficiently – reducing overall WAN costs.”

“Neighbourhood Policing is a major priority for Devon & Cornwall Police. Using Riverbed means we have many more options for providing employees with access to applications and data, when and where they need it. We’ve also had great feedback from staff, who says that the Steelhead appliances have made a huge difference – applications run much faster and log-on times are much shorter. It has made their job a lot easier and given them more time to do other things.”

“The flexibility offered by Riverbed also means that if we move location, we just take the Steelhead appliance with us and install it at the new site. Riverbed is now an integral part of our infrastructure for the smaller sites, with a Steelhead appliance installed from day one. It’s made our IT more cost effective and enabled us to get data out to our officers at a price we can afford,” concludes Goodwin.

Future plans

Devon & Cornwall Police also plans to deploy Steelhead appliances at some of its larger sites, and is looking to consolidate some of its file servers to a central location, “When consolidation takes place, Riverbed will help ensure our remote sites still get the performance they would expect from a locally based server,” adds Goodwin. The police service is also actively investigating Riverbed Cascade®, an application aware network traffic monitoring solution which is just one of many product lines offered by Riverbed.

SUMMARY

The Devon & Cornwall Police WAN covers a large geographic area and has almost 200 sites connected to it. The smallest sites use a secure, ADSL connection, and bandwidth limitations meant that only one or two IT devices could access the WAN at these locations. Many small sites are also temporary and the challenge was to find a cost effective solution for improving connectivity while protecting IT investment. By deploying a Riverbed WAN optimization solution, Devon & Cornwall Police has been able to double the number of IT devices that can run on an ADSL line, use ICT resources more effectively, improve employee efficiency and protect IT investment.

“The POC results included an average 70 percent reduction in WAN traffic, with log-on times reduced by around 40 percent.”

“Riverbed is an integral part of our infrastructure for the smaller sites, with a Staalhead appliance installed from day one.”

“For some sites, upgrading the network to achieve the same level of performance we get from the Steelhead appliance, would cost around six times more in installation costs alone.”

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