Upgrade Pays Off

Convergence city of Daytona Beach finds single network to its liking.

With 17 different and aging phone systems, a flaky and expensive ATM network, a location in the heart of the Hurricane Belt, and 8 million visitors a year, it was only a matter of time before the city of Daytona Beach, Fla., faced a disaster.

So in October 1999, the city set out to find a single, new network that would accommodate all its voice, video and data applications traffic. In addition, the network would need to employ an open architecture, be a lasting solution, allow maintenance to be done in-house and be scalable.

Four months later, the city had its four main buildings wired with fiber-optic cabling supporting a converged, IP-based Gigabit Ethernet network. Since then, the city has added 23 sites running voice over IP and is on track to complete the last 6.5 miles of a 30-mile fiber-optic ring in the next two years.

Today, the network supports typical e-mail and file sharing, along with a comprehensive Web page for the fire and police departments and City Hall. It also supports computer-aided dispatching, a records management system for the police and fire departments, document management systems, unified messaging, a voice recognition system, and the first of many planned network tenants who will buy city-provided long-distance. Next up for migration is the traffic engineering system, which will be used to manage control signals as traffic patterns change.

Although building a converged network is not for the faint of heart, the city, in partnership with NextiraOne LLC and Empire Computing Consulting Inc., managed to create a Nortel Networks Ltd.-based solution to its complexity problem.

"We had [systems] so old, they couldnt be upgraded. Nothing was compatible. The worst ones were those that handled public safety," said Grady Meeks, director of IS for the city. "The goal is to reduce maintenance costs and have a complete fiber solution, with one network to manage."

After struggling with an ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) network that posed a lot of problems, Meeks said, he knew that "Gigabit Ethernet [was] the way to go with convergence. The ATM network was more costly than having Gigabit Ethernet and didnt have as much functionality."

At the heart of the citys network are four of Nortels Passport 8600 Routing Switches in the public works, water works and police buildings and City Hall. The switches connect within those buildings to Nortel Meridian 1 Option 61c and Meridian 1 Option 11c PBXes for voice traffic. Those configurations serve as the primary distribution centers.

The Meridian PBXes include a digital line card designated as an Internet gateway card that connects voice traffic to the Ethernet metropolitan area network backbone, which serves as a voice trunk for remote locations. "At the other end is [the Nortel Remote Office 9150] that converts IP voice packets back to [traditional voice], and we can use the same digital phone at those locations as we do for those connected directly to the switch," said John Clary, senior application systems analyst for the city.

The 8600 Routing Switch is supported by about a dozen Nortel Advanced Remote Node routers. Nortel Business Policy 2000 stackable LAN switches provide advanced quality-of- service functions at the network edge for remote locations.

To date, 13 city locations have been added to the fiber backbone, while 10 more are served via a frame relay WAN.

"We were a beta test site for Nortel. We had to hammer out a good, workable configuration," said Clary. During the implementation, the city and Nortel learned of the need to add redundant links as backup and to boost the size of the user-configurable jitter buffer.

The redundancy issue was addressed by adding a backup ISDN connection, Clary said.

The project is considered a success, said Clary. The network, with a price tag of about $3.3 million, is saving the city $100,000 annually in telecommunications costs alone. That number will ultimately rise to $350,000 a year when the fiber ring is completed.