Pacific Hydro is Australia's leading renewable energy company, developing zero emission energy projects around the globe. Established in 1993, the company has more than 1,800 megawatts of hydroelectric and wind farm projects at varying stages of development, construction and operation across Australia, Asia-Pacific, North America and Latin America. Indeed, the organisation has planned investments of A$1.3 billion over the next five years.
In the post-Kyoto world, demand for Pacific Hydro's clean, green projects continues to boom and by 2011, the company estimates that installed generation capacity will have grown by over 400 percent.
In late 2006 Pacific Hydro's network security devices were about to reach retirement age and Daniel Hayward, the company's Global IT Manager, was tasked with finding a replacement.
According to Hayward, "Security is a substantial concern in my role. We are a leader in the renewables field and want to protect the information within our network. We maintain an infrastructure involving multiple sites across a number of continents and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of assets. A highly secure, modern firewall with regular dynamic updates that would accommodate our future growth was my first priority.
"Secondly, we wanted a graphical user interface that would allow us to take on responsibility for management and development of the system. Our previous solution was one of the leading brand names in network security and the technology worked well but it required us to employ consultants for even the simplest of modifications. This incurred substantial additional cost and resulted in time delays even for urgent requests."
Hayward called in Pacific Hydro's long-time IT partner, Global Data, to help provide advice as they evaluated possible solutions. After looking at a number of alternatives, WatchGuard scored the highest on Pacific Hydro's main criteria. In addition to its graphical user interface, WatchGuard's unified threat management appliances delivered all of Pacific Hydro's immediate requirements and provided the essential growth path by offering the ability to purchase additional functionality over time without having to replace hardware.
Perhaps the final consideration to sway Hayward was Global Data's recommendation to use WatchGuard. "Global Data have worked extremely well with us for years. They understand us and know what we require, so we have confidence in their advice".
In January 2007 Hayward began trialling WatchGuard's Firebox® Edge X10e in the company's newly established U.S. office. "We wanted to see how the products would perform in a small office first, so we carried out remote network tests and checked it all thoroughly to see if it could meet security expectations," Hayward explained. Within two months the company started rolling out WatchGuard Firebox Edge devices to offices around the world and implemented the larger WatchGuard Firebox X750e Core™ Series with unified threat management services at its head office in Melbourne.
Hayward is pleased with the results. "Technically, the rollout went extremely well. Global Data managed the set-up of the equipment and got the firewalls in. They were very informative and talked us through everything that we needed to know. In addition, the Fireboxes did everything they said they would do.
User reaction throughout the company has been minimal, which is a good thing according to Hayward. "A firewall is largely a background process that doesn't involve the users. It should just work. Based on this, the cut-over has to be seen as a success. We experienced no downtime or interruption to services," said Hayward.
Another unforseen benefit has been the organisation's subscription to WatchGuard's LiveSecurity® Service which keeps Pacific Hydro informed of new security threats as they occur and ensures the equipment is maintained with the latest security enhancements.
"The WatchGuard devices are very simple products and easy to understand," Hayward added. Six months down the track the Pacific Hydro team is already very capable of managing the firewall without help from any external contractors. Hayward concluded, "Every time the company puts on a new site we can do it ourselves. Any little change we want, our own staff can carry it out. We can tweak and tune the devices to our own requirements. Already we are saving around a thousand dollars per month on previously budgeted consulting and roll-out fees."