A major town of nearly 150,000 people, Blackpool is a well-known UK holiday resort and third largest settlement in North West England, after Manchester and Liverpool.
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Blackpool Council provides network services for all the state schools and public libraries in the area, as well as for a multitude of its own office and logistics sites. Broadband connectivity speeds for the sites have been increasing exponentially, particularly for the 40 schools in Blackpool that each run at between 10Mbps and 100Mbps. With various rich-media educational services due to drive future speeds to 200Mbps and above, Blackpool Council found that its core network infrastructure struggled to keep pace.
“We aggregate all traffic onto our core network at very high speed, where we apply various security policies in order to mitigate malicious threats and block any inappropriate content,” explained Tony Doyle, Head of ICT at Blackpool Council. “The throughput we needed was placing enormous pressure on our security infrastructure, which at that time was a complex array of separate hardware devices. We needed to simplify and accelerate our network security, but for the time being were just trying to manage with what we had.”
Change was coming however, as Blackpool’s incumbent Web content filtering solution became discontinued and the product vendor offered only an inflexible and prohibitively expensive alternative. As it transpired, Blackpool would be doing more than simply replacing their content filtering capability, but also firewalls, and in the future possibly more – all unified within a high-performance security platform.