MTC Australia is a not-for-profit organisation that has been helping people to gain employment, skills training and work experience for over 20 years. Focused on empowering and encouraging disadvantaged Australians, MTC Australia assists more than 35,000 people every year through its training courses, employment services, youth programs and community initiatives.
MTC Australia delivers federally funded programs such as Job Services Australia, Youth Connections and the Skills for Education and Employment program. Although they are a not-for-profit organisation, MTC Australia generates an annual surplus which funds community programs such as MTC Australia's independent high school, Warakirri College, which gives disadvantaged young people a second chance at completing their Year 10-12 qualifications.
MTC Australia is headquartered in New South Wales. It employs over 500 staff in 30 offices across Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. The organisation maintains data centres in Melbourne and Sydney. The voice and data network supports business critical information systems, many of which are delivered as hybrid cloud offerings including finance, ERP, payroll and human resources solutions, Microsoft Lync, Microsoft Office 365. Approximately 1,500 devices rely on the network, along with numerous staff-owned mobile devices such as iPads and smart phones, which are also connected. Within the coming months, MTC Australia will complete the introduction of hundreds of new Google Chromebooks.
AKCS consultants have been working with MTC over a number of years to consolidate the delivery of IT services and ensure that they get the best value for their spend.
In 2013 MTC Australia conducted a comprehensive IT review resulting in the decision to consolidate much of its infrastructure. A "cloud first" policy was adopted, giving preference to "cloud friendly" IT vendors. New applications were introduced which meant it was now time to perform a comprehensive review of network security.
Security is especially critical for MTC Australia as Chief Information Officer, Branko Ceran, explains. "Our federal government-funded programs must be tightly managed. It's essential we keep good account of confidential information and protect all data. It's really important for us to have a strong security product in place. MTC Australia may not be a bank, but our requirements for security are just as stringent and demanding."
The first solution considered by Ceran was not an ideal fit. "We initially had in mind a different solution but when we looked more closely it presented some challenges. We needed several different devices and security subscriptions to meet all our requirements and when it all added up, the offer was very expensive given the limited functionality and it would have taken two additional months to deploy. This was too long for comfort."
MTC Australia was due to change software systems and its telecommunications carrier within the space of a month. To avoid any potential security risk or exposure, everyone agreed it was essential the security solution be deployed as rapidly as possible.
Ceran decided instead to deploy dual WatchGuard XTM850 next-generation firewalls containing a full suite of unified threat management tools in a high availability configuration. For email and content security and data loss prevention, he selected dual enterprise-class WatchGuard XCS770R email security appliances in a high availability cluster.
"The scalability of the appliances was a big driver for choosing WatchGuard. We needed a solution that would be scalable throughout Australia at an efficient and economic level," Ceran notes.
Another factor was functionality. "WatchGuard combines a lot of different services in the one platform. Compared to the alternatives, WatchGuard could grow with us, it included a full suite of security functionality and it offered the biggest value for our dollars," he adds.
Aspects of particular interest included the depth of integration with Office 365 and the ability to operate within a heterogeneous environment involving multiple operating systems and devices.
"WatchGuard gave us the opportunity to cover all potential exposure through a single product," Ceran asserts. Integrating 7 layers of security into a single device meant MTC Australia was able to save on the cost of individual services. It was important to MTC Australia that the quality of each security layer was not compromised. "WatchGuard partners with the best in the industry which was very important to us. Their antivirus, IPS and web filtering technology is the best in the market because they don't try to do it all by themselves. For an organisation like ours, this is very reassuring.
"Many cloud-based offerings include a basic security offering but it was important for MTC Australia to keep control of this aspect. The use of Cloud based systems has changed the way our organisation operates but it is very important that we maintain ownership of our presence online. WatchGuard allows us to consume cloud services and still manage our own identity locally."
The decision to deploy the WatchGuard firewall and appliances was made in June 2013. At the same time, WatchGuard partner, AKCS was preparing to carry out the implementation. Fast work from both vendors saw equipment ordered and delivered, security rules converted from the previous system and deployment completed in less than a week.
"The teamwork between WatchGuard, AKCS and MTC Australia was critical to getting the system in so quickly," Ceran acknowledges. "AKCS know the systems intimately and understood our needs. WatchGuard was able to move quickly so that it all came together. It was a relief. Not having used the products previously, I had some small reservations. From the moment it went live, everything has worked well."
The new firewall and appliances have met all of MTC Australia's requirements and more. The organisation's network, systems and data remain secure, yet there has been an 80 per cent reduction in the time required for network and security management. Ceran attributes this to the reliability and ease of management of the new solution.
"It's a significant change that means IT gets to spend more time on value-add activity," he says.
There has also been one unexpected benefit – the cost savings associated with such a speedy deployment. "If we hadn't gone down the fast timetable with WatchGuard it would have taken months to deploy the alternative and we would have had to delay going live with our new software. We wouldn't have realised the benefits of the new network or the new applications so quickly."
Overall, he estimates that by deploying WatchGuard instead of a competing product, MTC Australia saved approximately $200,000.
Ceran's approach to security has ensured that MTC Australia has an enterprise-strength solution for the business with plenty of scope for physical network and user expansion. It has also given the IT team the reassurance of additional security functionality that's ready to be switched on whenever the company needs it.
It's essential we keep good account of confidential information and protect all data. It's really important for us to have a strong security product in place. MTC Australia may not be a bank, but our requirements for security are just as stringent and demanding.
Branko Ceran, Chief Information Officer,
AKCS know the systems intimately and understood our needs. WatchGuard was able to move quickly so that it all came together... From the moment it went live, everything has worked
Branko Ceran, Chief Information Officer,