Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Pat Romanski, Carmen Gonzalez, Liz McMillan, Mehdi Daoudi, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

SquidGuard Saves Local Government a Tidy Packet

An experiment with Linux

Justin Smith thinks in practical terms. As CTO of Guilford County Government in North Carolina, budgetary concerns were the driving force in his considering Open Source technologies. Smith saved an estimated $27,000 a year by replacing two servers on the edge of his network, and began to train his staff for future Linux deployments.

Taking the Plunge

Smith was already using some Linux in the environment for non-critical systems. They were running a Linux-based backup system for an Oracle database and operated a Web cam (a video camera connected to the network) on a Linux server, but they were nervous about expanding into more critical functions.

As the economy got worse, the budget drove them to look seriously at cost-cutting measures. Smith had been already been thinking about Linux for some time. When his support contract for SurfControl (a proprietary Web proxy, Web content filter, and spam filter) was up for renewal, Smith looked for a way to replace it with Open Source. He and his staff began an informal discussion about the ROI of using Linux for the task. They decided that it was a no-brainer since they could end up saving a significant amount, especially on the proxy and filter software. Smith was convinced that Linux could replace their current system, but he needed to show a proof-of-concept. Smith took advantage of leftover money at the end of the budget cycle to find out if Linux would work as well. That way he'd get his proof-of-concept, but he didn't have to give up part of his budget in case it didn't work.

Smith successfully replaced the Windows-based SurfControl server with SquidGuard and SpamAssassin (Web content and spam filters) on Linux. They chose to target the Web proxy as the first production system to move to Linux because they were having a few problems with the product and weren't getting timely support from the vendor. Given how much he paid for the support contract for SurfControl, Smith just didn't think he was getting a good deal for the money. After the conversion, they found that performance was better with the new system as well.

The second production system they targeted was the Sendmail relay and spam filter. By using SpamAssassin on Linux, Smith was able to remove the SurfControl product from two separate servers. His support contract for the Windows-based Sendmail relay was expensive, so Smith was glad to be able to drop it, too.

Smith found that support was less expensive and more timely from a local consulting company that specialized in Open Source products. That company introduced him to an inexpensive high-availability service on Linux servers. For not much more than the cost of the hardware, they were able to set up both servers with a redundancy system using Heartbeat, Open Source software used to set up a failover service. The previous systems didn't have failover capability, so Smith was able to achieve a level of service not previously available.

Guilford County, NC saves about $27,000 a year with just two Internet infrastructure migration projects.

Open Source Products Used:

  • Red Hat Linux servers
  • Squid/SquidGuard
  • Sendmail
  • SpamAssassin
  • Heartbeat for failover control

The Savings

The cost savings is a big win for Guilford County. Smith estimates that they saved $12,500 a year for the proxy server, and $15,000 a year for the mail server. Most of this savings came from replacing expensive proprietary products and support, and the rest from replacing Windows on the servers. The Open Source products they chose are all available at no cost, so the only expense was the consulting fees for deploying and support. Overall, it added up to about $27,000 a year for two Internet infrastructure projects.

Getting Help

Smith had Unix experience on staff, and he had light Linux experience himself. Expert support for any potential migration was an issue for Smith, and he needed to know that he would have the help required to ensure a smooth transition. He hired a consulting company to research software, do the deployment, and provide support, taking pressure off the IT staff. They didn't have to have in-depth knowledge to maintain the systems on a daily basis, and could learn from the consultants who did the deployment and provided support.

Smith believes that some local government organizations may have more Linux experience already, and may be able to do their own proof-of-concepts. It all depends on the amount of time you have available and staff skills.

A Smooth Transition

The transition was actually smoother than Smith expected. He had an idea of what to use as replacement software, but he depended on the consultant to make sound recommendations. The only thing Guilford County's 2,000 users noticed was a slightly different error message when they tried to reach a Web site that was blocked. The Web content filter took a little time to get adjusted properly, since the public health workers need access to sites that most corporations would block, such as information about illegal drugs. Once the settings were right, Smith's staff found administration a breeze.

Sanctioned for Government Use

In 2003, the chief information officer of the U.S. Department of Defense issued an agency-wide memo sanctioning the use of Open Source for department systems. Word of the memo circulated in the local government IT community, and Smith thinks that it's likely to make a difference in the rate of Open Source adoption for departments like his. "We'll see a more rapid adoption in government at all levels now. The DOD statement means that Open Source is taken more seriously in government in general, and now you don't have to worry about being an outcast since it's been officially approved."

Smith's advice to his peers is to look for where it makes sense to deploy in your particular environment. "I'm not for one operating system over another. I just want everything to work smoothly. You have to know your environment, and you have to judge where it will make sense for you."

[Excerpted from The Practical Manager's Guide to Open Source, Lulu Press]

More Stories By Maria Winslow

Maria Winslow is the author of The Practical Manager's Guide to Open Source, available at http://www.lulu.com/practicalGuide and can be contacted at [email protected]

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Discover top technologies and tools all under one roof at April 24–28, 2017, at the Westin San Diego in San Diego, CA. Explore the Mobile Dev + Test and IoT Dev + Test Expo and enjoy all of these unique opportunities: The latest solutions, technologies, and tools in mobile or IoT software development and testing. Meet one-on-one with representatives from some of today's most innovative organizations
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in Embedded and IoT solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and E...
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smart...
The WebRTC Summit New York, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 20th International Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo. WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web co...
"A lot of times people will come to us and have a very diverse set of requirements or very customized need and we'll help them to implement it in a fashion that you can't just buy off of the shelf," explained Nick Rose, CTO of Enzu, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists peeled away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud enviro...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a client-oriented software development company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex softw...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
The security needs of IoT environments require a strong, proven approach to maintain security, trust and privacy in their ecosystem. Assurance and protection of device identity, secure data encryption and authentication are the key security challenges organizations are trying to address when integrating IoT devices. This holds true for IoT applications in a wide range of industries, for example, healthcare, consumer devices, and manufacturing. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lancen LaChance, vic...
Who are you? How do you introduce yourself? Do you use a name, or do you greet a friend by the last four digits of his social security number? Assuming you don’t, why are we content to associate our identity with 10 random digits assigned by our phone company? Identity is an issue that affects everyone, but as individuals we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ben Klang, Founder & President of Mojo Lingo, discussed the impact of technology on identity. Sho...
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, discussed how leveraging the Industrial Internet and...
IoT generates lots of temporal data. But how do you unlock its value? You need to discover patterns that are repeatable in vast quantities of data, understand their meaning, and implement scalable monitoring across multiple data streams in order to monetize the discoveries and insights. Motif discovery and deep learning platforms are emerging to visualize sensor data, to search for patterns and to build application that can monitor real time streams efficiently. In his session at @ThingsExpo, ...
What are the new priorities for the connected business? First: businesses need to think differently about the types of connections they will need to make – these span well beyond the traditional app to app into more modern forms of integration including SaaS integrations, mobile integrations, APIs, device integration and Big Data integration. It’s important these are unified together vs. doing them all piecemeal. Second, these types of connections need to be simple to design, adapt and configure...
"ReadyTalk is an audio and web video conferencing provider. We've really come to embrace WebRTC as the platform for our future of technology," explained Dan Cunningham, CTO of ReadyTalk, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at WebRTC Summit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
A critical component of any IoT project is what to do with all the data being generated. This data needs to be captured, processed, structured, and stored in a way to facilitate different kinds of queries. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle certain kinds of queries, but they are not always well suited to many problems, particularly when there is a need for real-time insights.
WebRTC is about the data channel as much as about video and audio conferencing. However, basically all commercial WebRTC applications have been built with a focus on audio and video. The handling of “data” has been limited to text chat and file download – all other data sharing seems to end with screensharing. What is holding back a more intensive use of peer-to-peer data? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Dr Silvia Pfeiffer, WebRTC Applications Team Lead at National ICT Australia, looked at differ...
In his General Session at 16th Cloud Expo, David Shacochis, host of The Hybrid IT Files podcast and Vice President at CenturyLink, investigated three key trends of the “gigabit economy" though the story of a Fortune 500 communications company in transformation. Narrating how multi-modal hybrid IT, service automation, and agile delivery all intersect, he will cover the role of storytelling and empathy in achieving strategic alignment between the enterprise and its information technology.
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, Sandy Ca...