ZXTM Empowers e-Government in Newport
The purpose of the UK e-government initiative is to provide better access for the public to local and central government services using the telephone, email or Internet. Newport City Council’s Internet site allows its 137,000 constituents to find out information and request services, and to make payments to the council without having to fill in a paper form. In addition to the public web site, ZXTM also powers the council’s intranet services for its 7,500 employees.
Newport City Council’s systems were originally powered by single, separate servers for the public web site and intranet.These machines were self-contained with database, content management and application server software all installed in the same place. With broadband take-up greater in the UK than anywhere else in Europe and growing by 10% in the last quarter of 2005 alone (Source: PointTopic, January 2006), it is clear that public demand for e-government services would continue to grow apace.
Bearing this in mind, it was clear to Newport City Council that their ageing content servers would need to be replaced with a more resilient and higher-performance solution.
To allow the performance of both the public and intranet services to be scaled in line with demand,Newport City Council chose to build a cluster of application, content management and database servers backed by a SAN storage solution. To provide the resilience they required, the cluster would be fronted by an application traffic manager or load balancer.
Three potential solutions were considered: Zeus Extensible Traffic Manager (ZXTM), Cisco Content Server Switch (CSS) and Nortel Networks’ Alteon load balancer. Newport selected ZeusTechnology due in equal measure to the high degree of flexibility in the product and to the knowledge and understanding demonstrated by Zeus’ consultants when assessing their needs.
Four ZXTMs were deployed on AMD Opteron servers in a resilient cluster to manage the applications running on their two IBM BladeCenters. These contained a total of twelve dual Intel Xeon blade servers which were responsible for running the geographic information and Stellent content management systems, ColdFusion MX and the web servers for the public and intranet web sites, and lastly the parallel development, staging and training systems.
Plans for future expansion/redevelopment of the solution include the possibility of e-mail traffic management and integration of map-based systems via the GIS front end and online leisure centre bookings.
ZXTM intelligently manages traffic from external visitors to the website routing requests to the appropriate server using sophisticated TrafficScript™ rules. By automatically re-routing requests to different servers, ZXTM provides faster responses and ensures end users are never faced with unhelpful error messages.
The Zeus solution also manages the Council’s internal traffic to the intranet. Adding value to the Stellent content management system, ZXTM provides a gateway for internal staff to access a wider range of documents than was previously possible. This allows contact centre staff to respond to residents’ queries efficiently and effectively, by accessing up-to-date and relevant information at the touch of a button.
ZXTM’s GUI provides instant visibility of cluster health
ZXTM has significantly streamlined business processes and saved the council time and money by standardising paths for all online documents. Seamless migration of over 24,000 documents to its new content management system would have been a labour-intensive task had it not been for ZXTM’s intelligent scripting language, TrafficScript™. Three lines of code enabled the web development team to dynamically rewrite requests that map seamlessly into the new path name in a matter of hours as opposed to months, delivering a significant return on investment.