Improving Internet Access Following Meetinghouse Firewall Upgrade - Part 1 Print
Written by Sharon HowellI   
Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Because the Internet is a shared resource, last year’s changes to meetinghouse firewall configurations affect everyone who signs in to the meetinghouse network on their Wi-Fi-enabled devices. Becoming better informed about the changes will help you improve the experience for yourself and others.

This begins a two-part article on the new configuration. A second article will cover best practices.

The newest version of the firewall increases data throughput to better utilize the speed of local Internet Service Providers (ISP). The reconfiguration applies to Cisco firewalls furnished by the Church and sets up separate zones using dedicated ports. One zone is for the public network, another for facilities management, and where authorized, a special purpose or reserved zone for Family History Centers (FHC).

This new configuration should enable you to connect your mobile devices more reliably, and many more users will be able to connect simultaneously. While more connections will generally not tax the network, more people are bringing both tablets and smart phones to church and each may consume a connection. Since all users share the same network bandwidth, overall network performance may be reduced when members use their devices to perform Internet-intensive tasks.

The firewall upgrade automatically creates a facilities zone, even if facilities devices do not currently exist in your meetinghouse. This zone has only static IP addresses and is reserved for facility systems like heating/cooling, sprinkler, and alarms systems. The facilities zone is controlled by facilities managers. It is not used for public traffic, so any user-based devices will be moved to the public network.

If your meetinghouse has a Family History Center (FHC), it will be configured in a special purpose zone. If no FHC exists, the reserved firewall port may be used for the public network. The FHC zone has both static and dynamic network addresses, allowing the Family History department to manage FHC computers and printers. For example, monitoring toner usage allows the Church to proactively send replacement printer cartridges. This also gives patrons access and security to use premium websites on the Family History portal and the “Scan to FamilyTree” feature on Lexmark printers.

There is a growing need  for local Church units, according to Todd Cole, a Stake Technology Specialist, to train members on meetinghouse technology and how to use it appropriately with their mobile devices. That will be addressed in Part 2.