24×7 Connection Safeguards Citizens and Keeps Government Running

Municipal Government It Support

BACKGROUND

Protecting 35,000 citizens on a tight budget—that’s the reality for Monroe Township, New Jersey. The Gloucester County government provides the police dispatch system and wireless connections to the township’s patrol cars, but announced it was giving up responsibility for linking the township’s police headquarters with the system.

Monroe needed a high-availability connection in a hurry. They solved the problem quickly and affordably while getting a major security upgrade thanks to five-time WatchGuard Partner of the Year, eMazzanti Technologies.

 

Monroe
 

“eMazzanti is my backup, my sixth man. When push comes to shove, with their expertise I know I can make everything work. I can’t think of anyone else I would go to!”
Joe Varalli, IT Manager, Monroe Township, New Jersey

CHALLENGE

The county communications department had managed the point-to-point connections with its townships but decided to shift those to VPN connections and transfer the management responsibility to the local IT departments.

For Joe Varalli, IT Manager for Monroe Township, this meant he needed to supply a fully available, 24×7 Internet/VPN connection for the chief of police, his staff, and the local police administration. Each police desktop needed to connect with the portions of the police system still maintained by the county, specifically the dispatch system and laptops in the patrol cars.

At the same time, Varalli knew it was time for an upgrade on multiple fronts. In addition to the police, he was responsible for protecting the township administration and various departments. “I had a Symantec server for antivirus, and we were getting too much spam and multiple complaints,” he says. “It was time for a new firewall, and I needed to do it within budget.”.

SOLUTION

As he started to plan for the upgrade, Varalli brought in eMazzanti. The firm came up with a cost-effective plan for handling the police requirement. The centerpiece was to augment the existing T1 connection with a Comcast business network line for redundancy, routed through a WatchGuard firewall to handle security and failover.
The eMazzanti team installed a WatchGuard Firebox® X Core™ 750e device configured to handle the full set of requirements. They included the failover connections; back-office VPN for the police department connection to the county; and comprehensive border security.

Traffic was routed through a WatchGuard Unified Threat Management bundle including spamBlocker, WebBlocker, Gateway AntiVirus and Intrusion Prevention Service. The WatchGuard unit protects the entire township government.

“I connect to remote buildings within the township through point-to-point connections,” explains Varalli. “That includes two fire departments in three separate buildings, public works, and the ambulance hall. Everything funnels back to the town hall, where I have about a dozen servers. It’s all protected by the WatchGuard firewall.”

BENEFITS

“The move to bring in the eMazzanti team and WatchGuard was fantastic,” declares Varalli. “It encompassed not only the security, but a lot of needed changes I had identified over the last three years. Things have improved 1,000 percent. And as for meeting the budget requirements, the CFO will attest to it.”

Easier Management, Plus Fixed-Fee Support

Before implementing the WatchGuard unit, all traffic had been managed by the county, including web-blocking behavior. That meant that every time anyone in the government needed to access a blocked site for legitimate purposes, it took days or weeks to process the request.

The WatchGuard unit puts control directly in Varalli’s hands, allowing him to implement changes on his own. “If there’s anything I don’t know how to do, I give the eMazzanti support people a call and it’s done,” he says. “They’ve been so accommodating, and I’ve never had an issue.”

Varalli accesses that support through eMazzanti’s eCare services, a fixed-fee arrangement that keeps costs predictable and within the township’s budget. The package offers support and remote management, central logging and reporting, and proactive 24×7 monitoring of WatchGuard devices.

An End to System Rebuilds

Having the WatchGuard protection in place has made life easier. “I was rebuilding systems on a regular basis,” explains Varalli. “Somebody was always blowing something up with some email virus. Now, the Gateway AntiVirus strips the attachment right out. And having WatchGuard reduced the spam load, too.”

“That’s reduced the time lost for employees, and the money and time spent rebooting and rebuilding systems,” he continued. “The complaints have dropped way down. I don’t even have to worry about it anymore.”

Government That Works 

“I want to keep the technology on the cutting edge but within budgetary constraints,” summarizes Varalli. “We just installed a WatchGuard Edge device at one of the fire departments for wireless access and plan on doing more. It’s connecting to us over the back-office VPN.”

It all adds up to government that works. Police officers know where they need to go, payroll goes out, and the trash gets picked up. “There’s a lot of responsibility in making everything work. People think it’s magic,” declares Varalli. “I’m so glad I worked with eMazzanti and WatchGuard Technologies. They’ve been an asset to me.”

Municipal Government It Solutions

2020 UPDATE

Police Department Exchange Migration and Server

Recently, to comply with a State directive, Varalli called on eMazzanti’s Messaging Architects Division to conduct a police email migration.

“I had to extract 75 police officers from my Exchange server and build another server,” he related. “They had always done a good job for me, so I called eMazzanti. They did the extraction and set up a separate domain on the Police network. I couldn’t have done it without them.”

eMazzanti’s email experts also migrated the department from Exchange 2013 to 2019 and set up the domain controller. “eMazzanti was there with the planning from the jump,” explained Varalli. “They made the job seamless without a problem. It works beautifully!”

Completing a large Exchange can be challenging. “This is why I have eMazzanti. When I can’t figure it out, they’ve got my back. I feel secure having the same company for many years and knowing the support staff.”

Blocking Foreign Security Threats

A month later, Varalli was relayed a report from the FBI stating that his servers, on the internal network had been compromised. Quickly, he scanned 33 servers looking for malware, finding two RDP-related viruses.

With that result, he called on eMazzanti again. “Almi (eMazzanti’s CISO) did a great job for me,” he reported. “He set up a geo location in the firewall that blocked every IP worldwide except Great Britain and Canada. Once we did that, it prevented four different access attempts from Czechoslovakia and Russia.”

He also added the new police domain to eMazzanti’s MXInspect for email protection against viruses and spam. “When push comes to shove and I need that expertise, they’ve been there for me,” he said gratefully. “I have confidence in eMazzanti and the people that do the job. That means everything to me!”

A Strong Recommendation and Lasting Relationship

When asked what he would say to another township, Varalli responded, “It’s a no brainer. You should definitely go with them. In fact, I just recommended eMazzanti to a South Jersey township. I told them I couldn’t do it without them—setting up the email, doing the migration, the firewall support, and spam filter. That’s my life blood. They keep me going.”

Varalli also reported that eMazzanti’s fees compare well with the industry. “They’ve always worked with me to keep things within budget. And response time is always the same day— within the hour, or immediately. It’s always been that way.”

The bottom line for the township? “In our field, it’s relationship building. I always get honest answers from Carl and his people,” concluded Varalli. “I feel way more secure having someone in my back court. If I’m not available, I say call eMazzanti and they’ll take care of it.”

Software and Services

  • eMazzanti’s eCare Managed Security Services
  • Messaging Architects – Exchange Email Migration
  • eMazzanti’s MXInspect Email Filtering
  • Watchguard Technologies – Firebox X Core and XTM Series Firewalls
    For more information about eMazzanti Technologies IT solutions contact us.

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