California city rebuilds network using open-source apps

Budget savings earn the city a 2007 Enterprise All-Star Award

Open source all over

Previously, the city's WAN consisted of three T-1s: one to the Internet and two for data between city hall and the public works building, and between city hall and the building housing the police department and redevelopment agencies. A set of small Cisco routers stacked at these sites handled all the routing.

With the phone upgrade, the city expanded the WAN to tie in five more sites via T-1 links to the police department, city hall or public works building, each of which acts as a hub. The T-1s, bought through a California government consortium, cost US$170 per month.

Each hub has its own Asterisk IP PBX that is connected to the public switched telephone network via an AT&T Primary Rate Interface line. Dual T-1s, one for VoIP, the other for data, connect each hub to the others. If a T-1 fails, voice and data combine on the remaining line. If one PBX fails, phone traffic it normally would handle is routed to the other two via new routers the city built based on Vyatta open source router software (US$600 per router), standard Compaq x86 server hardware (US$900) and a Sangoma Technologies T-1 card (US$600), Wheeler says. He redeployed the Cisco routers to smaller sites.

With the phones and network overhauled, Wheeler has added more functions using a broad spectrum of open source software. These include Open VPN, Firewall Builder, TShark protocol analyzer, Apache Tomcat for Java development, PostgreSQL database, MapServer for creating maps and other images, Open NMS management platform, GLPI IT asset manager, Eclipse development platform, Aptare storage console and Snort intrusion detection.

"There was no open source here," he says. "I'm the open source guy."

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