Background: For over 50 years, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County has changed lives for good by helping strengthen families and building economic self-sufficiency. Catholic Charities’ Campaign to Cut Poverty is promoting several policy strategies based on the self-sufficiency standard that is critical to both prevent and end poverty. The campaign includes initiatives for employment and asset development, affordable housing, health care, education and work supports. Each year Catholic Charities serves 27,000 poor and vulnerable individuals of all cultures and beliefs. The agency is a voluntary member of Catholic Charities USA, the nation’s largest social services network, which serves over 7 million people each year.
Challenges: Catholic Charities is implementing an ambitious IT initiative to increase its business continuity capabilities to serve its growing roster of more 27,000 clients – particularly during a natural disaster or other crisis. With Catholic Charities’ staff of 400 at multiple locations reliant on centralized access to applications, the organization needed a high-availability front end for staff to access Catholic Charities’ “server farm” and spread traffic among multiple servers to achieve the best possible utilization, reliability, throughput and response time.
“The Coyote Point load balancer performs a vital job in making sure our applications are always up and running. If our Windows Terminal Servers ever do go down, it adversely impacts many users at many sites, and essentially brings our agency to its knees. Coyote Point’s approach of implementing load balancing in a hardware-based product is more reliable than software-based approaches, with benefits that include business continuity and speed, as well as less chance that it would ever break.”
Will Bailey, IT Manager for Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County
Issues: Prior to the introduction of load balancing, Windows Terminal Services were unreliable and servers did not operate efficiently. When Windows Terminal Servers were not operating, it adversely impacted many users at many sites, and essentially brought the agency to its knees. Before installing the Coyote Point system, the IT manager looked into using software-based load balancing, but was advised these approaches were not robust. The agency was seeking to centralize its IT operations at a central facility, but anticipated that without load balancing, the centralization would require more server resources than it could afford.
Solution provided by Coyote Point Systems: Coyote Point and BC Networks have teamed up to equip Catholic Charities’ employees with non-stop access to its central data center using Coyote Point’s Equalizer Series load balancer.
The Coyote Point system provides the front-end system for “desktop virtualization” in two usage scenarios – the first for up to 100 concurrent users equipped with Windows Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) users and another for a pilot project using Citrix Presentation Server.
In Catholic Charities’ network environment, staff members either use a secure MPLS network or remotely connect via a Cisco Virtual Private Network (VPN) concentrator to “hit” the Coyote Point load balancer. In turn, the load balancer distributes users’ requests for application access to the Windows Terminal Servers, which then access centralized data and up to nine Dell server virtualized using Microsoft Virtual Server. Additionally, Packeteer Wide Area Network (WAN) optimization controllers with rules to prioritize Windows RDP traffic, are used at some of the agency sites. The end result is that Catholic Charities’ workers enjoy secure, non-stop access to their essential business applications.
The Coyote Point load balancer equips Catholic Charities’ application environment to provide users with fast, interrupted access to applications for more than 45 distinct agency programs. Applications include Microsoft’s SharePoint 2007 with ISA Server for additional security, Microsoft SQL Server, multiple Web applications including a custom application for its client Information System, Razor’s Edge donor management system, ADP payroll system and the Sage accounting system for non-profit organizations.
“Catholic Charities requires affordable, non-stop availability for remote sites connected via Microsoft Terminal Services, which calls for the highly intelligent Coyote Point Equalizer Series load balancer. We’re proud to help equip Catholic Charities as it pursues its Campaign to Cut Poverty.”
Dave Brewer, President of BC Networks
Summary: Catholic Charities’ workers enjoy secure, non-stop access to their essential business applications. With Catholic Charities’ staff of 400 at multiple locations reliant on centralized access to applications, the Coyote Point load balancer serves as the essential front end to Catholic Charities’ “server farm.” The Coyote Point load balancer implements a collection of techniques to spread traffic among multiple servers to achieve the best possible utilization, reliability, throughput and response time.
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