The issue

GNS is New Zealand's leading provider of Earth, geoscience and isotope research and consultancy services – helping the NZ Government protect the environment, and improve the safety of people.

It is critical for GNS to be able to monitor, understand and plan for natural disasters and to be available when its primary Wellington site is possibly unavailable, due to earthquake or tsunami activity. GNS currently consumes REANNZ National Connectivity Services to provide the required network resilience it is diversely routed to its Wellington and Taupo locations. Transitioning to an independent hosted firewall service, managed by the geographically-dispersed team at REANNZ, was another important step in maintaining GNS’ business continuity plan.

[REANNZ has] been delivering that [service] extremely well. We had a really strong desire to work with the least number of partners possible, to help achieve synergies between them – and it was really logical, as part of the suite of services that REANNZ can deliver best, that they help us with this. So, it was a no-brainer for us to talk to them straight away.
Stacey Perrett, General Manager, Information Systems, GNS

The Process

Extensive conversations between REANNZ and GNS informed the critical learning process behind developing the Managed Firewall Service - helping to build a shared understanding of GNS's existing systems, firewall functionality requirements and existing change processes. With the business requirements continually evolving, this highly collaborative and iterative product development approach was critical to a successful delivery, as was flexibility on the part of both organisations.

[REANNZ’s] flexibility was huge. GNS historically has made use of a one-man consulting guy [for external firewall security requirements], and still do from time to time because he’s fantastic. He has so much knowledge about our networks in his head, it made a lot of sense for us to use him for the design and implementation work with REANNZ - who were quite happy to sub-contract to him, and include him within their team. I don’t think many vendors would have wanted to do that.
Stacey Perrett, General Manager, Information Systems, GNS

The solution

By using this collaborative and iterative approach, REANNZ has ultimately been able to develop a highly adaptable, high throughput, hosted Managed Firewall solution, which delivered on all of GNS’s stated business and technical requirements, whilst maintaining its re-usability as a Managed Firewall Service for future members.

We now have a much-improved level of firewall and perimeter security compared to anything we’ve ever had before – and at less than two thirds of the price of any commercial equivalent, which is true of all the REANNZ services. REANNZ is a unique partner. We’re members, and they truly deliver on all that implies. They will really work with you to live up to the spirit of any agreement, and deliver the solution and the outcomes you’re after.
Stacey Perrett, General Manager, Information Systems, GNS

In summary

The REANNZ hosted Managed Firewall Service offers a significant range of functionality above and beyond that of a traditional firewall. This includes extensive management and reporting functionality, which, thanks to the multi-tenant structure of the product is far more cost-effective than it would otherwise be for REANNZ members to purchase as a stand-alone solution.

Due to its scalability and virtualisation, this hosted Managed Firewall Service does not cause any of the data transfer speed bottlenecks, often caused by on premise firewall appliances, thus allowing members to get the most from their very high speed REANNZ National and International Connectivity Services.

With a number of other members having already expressed an interest in transitioning to the new product, REANNZ will continue to refine, develop and enhance its Managed Firewall Service offering to ensure it is providing the best possible level of service for members.