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Secure IT access for international charity workers.

Global Secure Systems (GSS) : 06 March, 2008  (Application Story)
Network access with information security is an important aspect of life for Marie Stopes charity employees who are spread around the globe in diverse locations.
Marie Stopes International, the UK's leading provider of sexual and reproductive healthcare services, has confirmed details of its information-sharing environment that helps people work effectively and stay in touch, while on the move, to deliver care and services in some of the world's poorest regions. With 452 centres in 38 countries, of which nine main centres are in the UK, employees and strategic partners regularly travel and need access to on-line information and resources wherever they are located.

Its IT team compared a number of different systems before deciding on the solution from AppGate Network Security. Global Secure Systems, an authorised AppGate partner and expert in IT security, worked with the Marie Stopes International team to install the AppGate Ax2 security server and integrate it with the existing infrastructure based around its Microsoft Sharepoint server.

"Since the information-sharing systems would be accessed by our staff and external partners; from corporate devices, home pc's as well as shared public computers; and while travelling using mobile devices, strong access control was essential to ensure that other resources on the corporate network remain protected from unauthorised access. A further issue was access from remote locations where bandwidth connections may be low," explained Perry Roche, Marie Stopes International IT services manager. "Additionally, the solution needed to allow the system administrator to define exactly what applications and services each user could access."

The AppGate solution combines strong authentication and authorisation together with powerful rights management functionality. Granular control of access for all users whether they are working inside the organisation or from remote locations enables the IT team to specify who can connect, from what device and what level of access they are permitted.

AppGate's technology supports secure connections regardless of device, transmission type or application, and the SSL module means that users can access web services securely even from computers located in Internet cafes and airports. Data compression reduces the number of data packets transmitted which is a great benefit for users working over mobile phones or from locations where bandwidth is limited.

"Compression helps speed up the whole user experience where the Internet connection is slow. I've tested it in places such as South Africa and Malawi and it operates well on low bandwidth. With other products we would have had to spend more money to achieve the same performance." Concludes Roche, "An additional bonus is that it could be set up very quickly and we could start using it without having to go on a course! I would definitely recommend AppGate, it's a very useful tool and has fulfilled everything we wanted it to do with the potential to support other projects in the future, thus providing significant value for money."

Trials of the information-sharing system have been successful and it is being rolled out to managers across the organisation providing them with access to the central document store, a collaboration environment, blog facility, chat rooms and other on-line resources.

Moving forwards, the AppGate solution provides the flexibility and comprehensive set of functions that will allow Marie Stopes International to extend the system in the future as required with little additional investment. The system can easily be scaled-up to allow more users to use the system and the team is looking at using AppGate's mobile clients to enable users to access the network over their mobile phones.
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