Malta Government Network (MAGNET) Tech Refresh Project

by | Mar 25, 2024

Joseph Ryan Vella

The MITA Network Engineering Services team is responsible for the design, implementation, and upkeep of the Malta Government Network which is also known as MAGNET. Each Government site is equipped with a fibre connection which is secured with firewalls installed at each location. 

MITA currently manages around three hundred (380) remote MAGNET connections. For redundancy purposes, MAGNET sites can be equipped with either a single fibre connection or dual fibres. However, both options offer a degree of redundancy by each having a primary and secondary logical link.

Over the years, the MAGNET network grew exponentially. As a result, the current setup was nearing a design overhaul and technical refresh. The overall scope of the project was to increase the capacity, bandwidth, and security of the existing network. This is in line with MITA’s commitment to continuously improve the service offered.

The project was divided in three phases. Due to an increase in demand for bandwidth, phase one needed the local service provider to upgrade equipment installed at both MITA’s Data Centres. The upgrade was carried out through the installation of new equipment while at the same time keeping the older equipment operational. This would later allow us to operate the old infrastructure in parallel with the new one. This upgrade by the local service provider allowed us to double the port capacity.

Throughout the first phase, focus was also given to the planning and design of a simplified core network setup. This allowed new core equipment to be installed in our Data Centres for the seamless connection of the new service provider to our core equipment. The new infrastructure allowed the bandwidth capability to increase from 1Gbps to 10Gbps per port.

In the next phase, the configuration on the new core equipment was implemented whilst keeping the existing setup operational. Testing was carried out in a lab environment to guarantee the planned design was fit for purpose. We also sought to optimise the resources we have by balancing traffic on both primary and secondary links. An improvement was also carried out by creating a script to facilitate the migration of remote connections using standardised templates. The script allowed an automated process of configuration creation with minimal user input, to minimise human error. This automated process enabled us to configure a new firewall in a matter of minutes.

The last phase of the project was the actual migration of the Government site connections onto the new setup. A maintenance schedule with all stakeholders was established so that the three hundred and eighty (380) fibre connections were connected with the least disruptiveness. Over the course of eight months all connections were successfully migrated onto the new setup. The migration process also served to test the redundancy each connection has, and any issues identified were promptly rectified.

The project was a success story and was implemented ahead of schedule. This allowed the decommission of the current setup equipment on a timely manner. We now have a setup in place which caters for future growth. The new setup allows the possibility to easily increase bandwidth with our service providers. Also, the security posture was improved using new security features.



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