LJ Hooker locks down network

Real estate franchisor LJ Hooker is extending the deployment of network security appliances from its head office in Sydney to the rest of its Australia-wide network. The company initially installed in Sydney several systems from vendor Fortinet in January and February last year.

Real estate franchisor LJ Hooker is extending the deployment of network security appliances from its head office in Sydney to the rest of its Australia-wide network.

The company initially installed in Sydney several systems from vendor Fortinet in January and February last year.

"I'm rolling out their appliances to each of our operations centres throughout Australia and New Zealand," the company's network administrator Chris Smith told ZDNet Australia this week.

The rollout will allow the company to establish virtual private networks (VPNs) between operations centres in every Australian state and territory excluding the Northern Territory, in addition to several in New Zealand.

"All going well, I should have the rollout completed in about three months time," said Smith.

LJ Hooker's original head office purchase included two FortGate-800 Antivirus Firewalls, a FortiMail-400 e-mail security system and several smaller devices. Local Fortinet partner Seccom Networks aided in the implementation.

"We tested a number of appliances, and these guys seemed to come up with the goods, and I've never been sorry," said Smith of the vendor.

"Security-wise, I like to run a very tight network, and I've found that the Fortinets have helped me lock security down to a very tight degree."

"I went with Fortinet in the end because of the simplicity of the layout of the appliance, very easy to work with, very easy to configure."

"Also, because it had the independent architecture for each of your intrusion prevention, your anti-virus, and also your firewall ruling, for putting rules in. This really was a good thing, because basically the appliance doesn't get bogged down dealing with the one thing -- it can handle the tasks all at once."

Regarding competing vendors, Smith said: "The competition was good, don't get me wrong," but added a lot of their devices didn't have a standardised user interface like Fortinet did.

"It just makes it so much easier for us in the long run if I've got one interface all the way through, " he said. "Especially if I've got techs underneath me that are doing work."

Look out for traffic
LJ Hooker's network is certainly no lightweight, particularly when it comes to Internet traffic.

"We move about 1.7 terabytes of traffic per month," said Smith. "The majority of it is http -- our Web site's probably one of the busiest ones in Australia. So it's primarily Web traffic, followed very closely by e-mail."

The company's e-mail traffic is in two parts. Its own e-mail is handled by a Microsoft Exchange 2003 implementation, with that of its franchisees handled by vendor Ipswitch's IMail 8.12 solution.

"There's upwards of nearly 800 franchises through Australia and New Zealand, and also we're starting to move into Dubai, China and Indonesia as well," said Smith.

Consequently the company's e-mail traffic is also impressive. "This [Thursday] morning so far, we've moved nearly 10,000 e-mails," said Smith. "That would have been from probably midnight last night."

"E-mail is forever growing as the medium everyone wants to communicate via," he added.

"It's becoming less and less telephone, fax and talk, it's becoming e-mail, e-mail, e-mail. On an average day, we can move anywhere from 80,000 to 160,000 e-mails through our network here."

LJ Hooker also runs a Citrix-based thin client environment for some of its franchisor applications.