QTEL boosts storage solutions

Telecommunication companies are no different to any other businesses operating in the service industry. They are, without exception, expected to deliver a service that is both effective and reliable – all of the time.

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By  Matthew Southwell Published  July 30, 2001

Telecommunication companies are no different to any other businesses operating in the service industry. They are, without exception, expected to deliver a service that is both effective and reliable – all of the time. In an increasingly technology orientated world this frequently comes down to the performance of critical business applications.

These applications must run 24x7 while handling mission critical data that is growing at exponential rates. This phenomenon puts extraordinary demands on businesses storage infrastructures.

It is from this demand that storage area networks (SANs) have emerged. Through a high-speed special-purpose network, or sub-network, that interconnects different kinds of data storage devices with associated data servers, a SAN is able to handle the storage demands made by enterprises with large amounts of mission critical data.

Qatar Telecom (QTEL) is no exception. The company has around three to four Terabytes of data that it needs to store, in addition to a large wide area network (WAN), consisting of some 1400 users – all of whom require continuous availability of information for work purposes.

In order to address its needs the telco has acquired a storage management solution from Compaq Computer to link its two remote sites on-line.

"We needed a powerful storage solution to meet the increasing needs of our customers and to work in a non-stop environment. Deploying the storage area network (SAN) solution from Compaq will allow us to have faster access to information and provide us with a clustering solution that ensures zero down time [as] it can be accessed through alternate data paths, eliminating single point of failure," says Khalid Mahmood, divisional manager of IT, QTEL.

The Compaq StorageWorks SAN has been employed to increase application availability, enable better application performance, and give QTEL the ability to consolidate storage. As the solution is operating system neutral, it is hoped that the integration of storage devices and management tools will be seamless.

In addition, the solution will also provide the telco with practical data movement abilities. The benefits of this include cost-effective implementations of high-availability disaster protection configurations, such as remote clusters, remote data replication and vaulting.

"Compaq is helping [QTEL] instantly combine different sources of customer information - such as billing and call transaction data - into one holistic picture... [enabling it] to turn vast amounts of data into competitive advantage,” says Joseph Hanania, managing director for Compaq Middle East.

Local Compaq distributor and Oracle partner, Mannai, has implemented the Compaq solution with its engineers designing he system to QTEL’s specifications. During instillation the company utilised open standard ANSI based low-cost interconnect technologies such as Fibre Channel as well as basing the system on common protocols in order to make the SAN benefits available for all system environments, including Open VMS, Windows NT and UNIX.

"This project will enable QTEL to manage and optimise their business-critical storage resources from any location on the network. It will provide them with solutions uniquely suited to demanding e-business applications, allowing simplified management of massive storage capacities. Also, QTEL customers will benefit from improvements in service levels, lower operational costs, and business flexibility, " says Sandeep Chhabra, sales specialist for high performance servers in Compaq Middle East. "

Khalid Mannai, Chairman of Mannai Corporation, sees this project as the first of many as storage infrastructure comes to the forefront of businesses thinking. “The storage market in the Middle East, and specifically in Qatar, is growing rapidly. Many of our customers are evaluating new architectures like SAN to meet their growing e-business requirements," he says.

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