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GrowZone Online … The Challenge to Deliver Internet Services to Southern Inland Queensland Tony Nugent & Phillip Gersekowski Project Background … Community owned and managed GrowZone Development Network Inc Up to 44 IMC groups in the community Regional Economic Development Focus

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growzone online

GrowZone Online …

The Challenge to Deliver InternetServices to Southern InlandQueensland

Tony Nugent & Phillip Gersekowski

project background
Project Background …
  • Community owned and managed
      • GrowZone Development Network Inc
      • Up to 44 IMC groups in the community
      • Regional Economic Development Focus
  • Planning & Deployment supported by
      • Networking the Nation Grant
  • Will operate commercially with …
      • Full ISP Services
      • Local Public Access Terminals (Internet Cafes)
the region
The region …
  • 29 Local Authorities
  • 412,000 klms2
  • Population: 226,667
project goals
Project Goals …
  • Internet access for the cost of a local call
      • Up to 44 POPs in the GrowZone region
      • Call-back to subscribers on Pastoral or STD calls
  • Public Access Terminals in each community
      • 3 Computers, 2 printers, scanner and video camera
  • Access to local and regional information
      • Network infrastructure for a Regional Communication and Information Network or Web-based database
      • Locally owned, managed, updated and accessed
additional project benefits
Additional Project Benefits …
  • Enhanced Business-to-business communication
      • Fast, reliable LANs, WANs and Internet Connectivity
  • Locally Managed – increased IT skills base
      • NDC – team of 3
      • Software – team of 2
      • HelpDesk – team of 3
      • Regionally – up to 30 local IT people and trainers
  • Regional IT training platform
      • Unix/Linux Systems Administration & Network Management
      • Web-based interface SQL Development
      • Encourage THUUG activities
      • Work Experience opportunities throughout the region – CJP application = 15 jobs
network hardware
Network Hardware …
  • Toowoomba Server Farm
      • 2Mb Fibre Megalink (Telstra)
      • 8 High-end PC Servers running Linux
      • Multi-homed Linux routers/firewalls
  • Points Of Presence
      • Digital OnRamp 2 and Frame Relay links to network
      • PC Servers running Linux
      • Cisco Routers and/or Rastel cards
  • Public Access Terminals
      • PC Units running Windows 98
      • Linux Server running Samba (netbios) network services
network design
Network Design …

Low density population

Long distances

Many small isolated communities

Computer illiterate

Software …
  • Basic Operating System:
      • Redhat 6.x
  • Network Server Services:
      • DNS, WWW, FTP, Mail, Proxy, News
      • NFS, Samba, NIS, DHCPD, MySQL
      • Backup, Network Monitoring & Management
  • User Management & Billing:
      • Customized PHP3, PERL, MySQL
  • Routing & Dial-up Support:
      • Radius, PortSlave, PPP
our first challenge
Our First Challenge …
  • A Few People, Long Distances and A Really Old Telephone service …
    • Pricing the service so it pays for itself:“$2.85/hour … that’s dearer than …”
    • Delivering a reliable dial-up service:“I keep getting disconnected …”
    • Contain Network Running Costs:“Our ISDN Costs are killing us …”
    • Managing Remote Sites cost-effectively:“I’ll be there in 9 hours …”
    • Solving “Last-Mile” Problems:“11,200 bps … that’s great … thanks!”
the next challenge
The Next Challenge…
  • DRCS… Digital Radio Concentrator System
    • Radio/UHF Phone System
    • Work on a Concentrator System
    • Can be multiple hops from an end user until the Terrestrial Telco Network is reached
  • Maximum achievable Connect Speeds – 12,000 bps
    • Normal speed vary from 2400 bps to 7200 bps
    • Minimum speeds as low as 300bps
  • Problems usually alleviated with specialized Modem Initialization Strings….
    • Different based on modem chipset
  • Telstra Upgrading all DRCS in Australia to HCRC – High Capacity Radio Concentrator
    • Maximum Speed on HRCR up to 31,200 bps
    • Average speeds 19,200 bps to 28,800 bps
other challenges
Other Challenges….
  • How to provide local call access to all subscribers within the region
    • Most subscribers live within local call to one of our POPs
    • Still….. A large proportion of subscibers are in extended zones
      • STD Rates $5 - $14 per hour at peak times
      • Pastoral Calls – 20 cents per 5 Minutes - $2.40 per hour
telstra dial connect
Telstra Dial-Connect……
  • Perfect solution to our problems
    • Local call cost to the subscriber
    • Designed for IP based data communictions
  • Except….
    • Highly Expensive
      • Average Cost for our client base - $6 - $10 per hour charged to the Business (GrowZone)
    • Difficult to manage and control
      • Cannot force people within the local call zones to our POPs to use the local POP
        • Service could be exploited to the financial detriment of our project
  • Ease way to go broke……
    • $2.85 per Hour revenue vs $8 per Hour Average Servicing Cost
solution nt ppp cbcp
Solution…… NT PPP cbcp
  • Microsoft sometimes does some good things…
    • NT Servers support Callback Control Protocol (cbcp) to allow more secure RAS connection
      • Authentication mechanism means that a user is called back to verfiy there request for access.
  • Problem – NT has the only full Server Side CBCP Support
    • Solution…implement cbcp server support for the Linux PPP daemon…
    • Because we have the source code we can create a new feature in pppd
    • Additionally we have to integrate Radius Support in pppd to cated for cbcp support…..
    • Patch the Open Source Radius Server to provide Radius Attributes for cbcp support…
  • We can now provide local call access to any Rastel POP via cbcp support in pppd, that is controlled by Radius…
    • Cost of providing local call access drops from $8-$10 per hour to $2.40 per hour
    • Financially manageable with a $2.85 per hour retail pricing.
  • Continuing Development to assist in alleviation of problems with poor quality phone Lines in extended Zones (DRCS)
    • Add features to Radius and cbcp support to force harsher modem initialization parameters before commencing the callback
other challenges cont
Other Challenges…cont.
  • Provide High Speed Internet Access to PAT (Public Access Terminals) in location that are local call to existing GrowZone OnLine POP’s
    • OnRamp2 Express Plans for WAN Connectivity are compartively expensive compared to PSTN Services.
    • Good Quality PSTN Services are almost equivalent to ISDN Services
      • 64 kbps to 56 kbps (realistically 44 kbps)
  • Wouldn’t it be good to use multiple 56 Kbps PSTN Dial-Up’s and Channel Bond them together – Multi-Link PPP ?
    • Linux pppd does not yet support MLPPP
    • Alpha Version MLPPP is good but unstable with line drop-outs…
linux cisco to the rescue
Linux/Cisco to the Rescue
  • Features of the Late 2.2.x Version Linux Kernels provide strong support for load balancing over Serial Links (PPP)
  • Cisco ISO Implementation provide load balancing over multiple paths through Process Routing.
  • Using these two features, the fastest Dial-Up Internet Access in Southern Queensland is in Oakey
    • 4x 56 kbps to Toowoomba yields approx 25 Kbytes/sec Internet Access
    • Approximately 176-256 Kbps bandwidth to Oakey
  • Currently used in 4 Sites
    • Reduces WAN Costs by approximately $300 per site per month….
future challenges
Future Challenges …
  • Largely inexperienced Computer users …
    • Overcoming Community Resistance:“The Internet … no way … we don’t want it …”
    • Overcoming Techno-phobia:“No mate … never turned one on before …”
    • Overcoming Sheer Bloody Mindedness:“I put the disc in and nothing happened …”
    • Finding Good IT People: “No-one out here knows anything …”

Software Development…..

  • Open Source Software……
    • Allows Changes to be easily made….
    • Modifications to Services to add features, improve security, and develop new products
      • Radius Servers
      • PPP implementations
        • Callback
        • Solve poor client side implementations
        • Enhance Features – Termination Cause

Software Development…..

  • Determine Causes of Problems…..
    • Look at the Source Code……
    • Control
      • Determine our own destiny
      • Vendor and Support Provider independence
      • Allows for quick turn around on problem diagnosis and solutions
in house development
In-House Development
  • Specialized User Management System
    • Add/Remove/Modify Users
      • Update Unix System Files
      • Create Email Addresses
      • Build Skeleton Home Directory
    • Virtual ISP User Management System
      • Access Controls
      • Hides all other users within the system from the VISP Owner/Manager
in house development30
In-House Development
  • Automated Billing and Reporting
    • Billing users access to multiple accounts
      • VISP Master Account
      • User Account
  • Format Invoices differently for different users
  • Calculate Commissions for IMC Payments

Network Statistics…..

  • May’s Statistics
    • 39 Gb of Data per Month
    • 22,000 Hours of Access
    • 22,000 Individual Connections per Month
    • Approximately 1000 Users
  • Network Line Rentals
    • Approximately $40 K per month
  • Bandwidth Costs
    • Currently 10% of Line Rentals
    • Expected 25-30% of Line Rentals
more stats
More Stats…..
  • 40+ Remote Servers
  • 50+ Remote routers
  • 400+ Dial-Up Access Lines
  • 6 Frame-Relay Services
  • 23 ISDN Services

It’s a large network…..

  • Measure of the Network’s size is geographic not technical (Traffic and Bandwidth)
proxy servers
Proxy Servers
  • All HTTP Traffic (port 80) is transparently proxy cached at each node in the Network
  • 60 – 80% of all traffic is HTTP
  • Proxy Server achieves 24% Hits on all requests
  • Proxy Server saves 8% of Volume Costs based on Hits ratios (due to increasing dynamic content on the internet)
content management
Content Management…
  • Open Source Proxy Server allows for development of third party extensions
  • Content Management – Filtered Content is supplied to all PAT’s
    • Bans Adult Content, Drug Related Information, Violence and Aggressive Sites, etc…
    • Controlled by lists of sites that can be gathered from the internet.
    • Able to scan the Cache Files for the Proxy Server for all users using the network, to increase the size and coverage of the filtering lists.
remote network management
Remote Network Management
  • How to Manage 44 Remote Servers and Routers…..
    • Unix to the Rescue
      • telnet
      • ssh – simple and Secure
      • nfs
  • Network Management Tools
    • netSaint – SMS and Email Alerts
    • mrtg
remote workstation management
Remote Workstation Management
  • How to manage, maintain and support 120+ remote workstations
    • SOE – Standard Operating Environment
    • Workstation OS Installations are expendable
      • any problems simply crash and burn and re-ghost
    • VNC
    • Ghost
    • PXE – Network Boot Agents/Network Boot ROMS
    • Samba
power management
Power Management
  • Nightmare………..
    • Servers do not like power disruptions
    • Each Server and Router is connected to a UPS
    • UPS Management Software control graceful shut down of servers and restarts server when power is restored
  • Allows for Remote Monitoring of UPS Statistics and Functioning
technicians at remote sites
Technicians at Remote Sites
  • Definitely not…….
    • Most Sites are run with community volunteers
    • Some Sites run by the owner of the Local Store, a librarian, of staff of the business in which the Site is located
war stories
War Stories……..
  • Can you reboot the Router……
    • What is that….
  • A small black box with Cisco written on it about the size of half a pizza box…..
    • Do you Mean the thing with all the cables coming out of it with IBM written on it…
  • No the small black box with Cisco Written on it – it will have 4 Cables plugged – all of different colors
    • Do you mean the thing that is connected to the Printers with LexMark written on it….
  • No the other black box – that last on in the place
    • Oh the one with Cisco Written on it – Yes I have found it what do I do now
  • Turn the Power Off and then back On…..
    • How do I do that……
technicians at remote sites48
….Technicians at Remote Sites
  • All Site Management Must be performed remotely
    • We cannot rely on there being anybody on site (physically or mentally)
  • Each Site is designed with multiple Back Door Entrances
    • Via WAN Connection – Frame Relay, ISDN, or PSTN
    • Via Dial-Up Ports – ISDN or PSTN
    • Via additional Management Dial-In Modem
security must be maintained
Security must be Maintained…
  • Each Backdoor is secured to restrict access……
    • No direct telnet or ssh access from any backdoor – must hop across each router in the network and authenticate separately to each….
ongoing network management
Ongoing Network Management…
  • Measure Bandwidth and Dial-Up Port Utilization
    • Change the structure and layout of the network over time to improve performance and/or reduce costs
  • Network Rationalization …“Doing more with less …”
    • Re-design Network Design
      • Lower Telco Costs
      • affect on Bandwidth
  • Using Alternative Techniques
    • Call-back services – lowering Call Costs
    • Multi-link / Load Balanced PSTN PPP Connections

Thank you