QNOC equips intelligent tower with Cisco kit

When it decided to build a new headquarters, Qatar National Olympic Committee (QNOC) decided its facility should be a landmark building in the country. As a result, its Doha-based property is kitted out with the latest IP telephony, networking and wireless technology from Cisco Systems.

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By  Zoe Moleshead Published  October 30, 2003

Intelligent tower|~||~||~|When it decided to build a new headquarters, Qatar National Olympic Committee (QNOC) decided its facility should be a landmark building in the country. As a result, its Doha-based property is not only the highest in Qatar, but also an 'intelligent tower' kitted out with the latest IP telephony, networking and wireless technology from Cisco Systems.

To fulfil its IT vision, or E-QNOC as it has also been billed, the organisation set up an IT department to oversee the project. "The IT department was established last year in mid-July," explains Rashid Al Mansoori, IT manager with QNOC.

"We then put together a plan for the QNOC headquarters, which is the new 27 storey tower. We thought about what kind of infrastructure this tower needed to meet our requirements and technology needs and we looked at a few options - what type of cabling, what telephone system and also the applications," he adds.

Finally, following a visit to Dubai Internet City late last year, QNOC opted to deploy an IP telephony infrastructure from Cisco. The solution is also supported by a local area network comprised of multiple Cisco switches and a wireless infrastructure, all of which provide the scalability, flexibility and performance that QNOC demands.

"We have two core switches, which are the 6509s, we also have 108 Catalyst 3350 edge switches. Additionally, we have three core managers, a fax gateway and four different IP phone models with the 7960s 7940s, 7905s and also the 7920 wireless IP phone," explains Al Mansoori.

Furthermore, 168 wireless access points have been deployed throughout the tower to ensure employees can remain connected to the network wherever they are in the building.

For Al Mansoori and his IT team, the network infrastructure has also afforded both cost savings and management simplicity, while providing a platform from which it can run the required applications and services.

"We don't have many cables within the building, in fact, we only have one cable. So we have saved a lot on cabling. Also involving the multimedia, voice over IP (VoIP) and video over IP [capabilities], this infrastructure supports our strategic plan," Al Mansoori comments.

Aside from providing the 700 tower employees with video, voice and data access, the network is also running a host of administrative and specialised sports applications for QNOC. "We have so many applications running right now. When we began in August there were no applications - nothing. So we had a tactical plan to roll them all out, starting with the human resources and financial applications, as well as some other applications, like the archiving system and the sports system... plus we have a small intranet solution," Al Mansoori explains.

"The sports system is for the registration [of athletes] and it will allow us to keep track of people as they develop. It will be a very large database and it will help people make decisions about team selection," he continues.

Qatar Telecom (Qtel) has also played a significant role in the implementation of the voice infrastructure. As well as acting as the project installation partner for the voice network, the operator is providing ongoing management support to ensure that telecoms regulations are adhered to.

"We have four network staff and we are monitoring the network and doing the administration and the configuration for the customers. But regarding the phone management, Qtel is doing that. Qtel is doing most of the administration as per their regulations, we have minimum [input] with that, but we are talking to them to get more [responsibility]," states Al Mansoori.
"If the administration of the IP phones is in our hands, it will be easy - that was one of the reasons for choosing this solution," he adds.

||**||Looking ahead|~||~||~|While Al Mansoori believes his department, with support from Sheikh Saoud Bin Abdul Rahman Al-Thani, the secretary general of QNOC, has accomplished a great deal in its first year of operations, its plans do not stop there. With the Asian Games scheduled to take place in Doha in 2006, the department is already finalising plans to deploy wireless hotspots in the city's stadium.

"For the stadium's wireless solution each club will have a separate wireless network using Cisco Aironet 1200 Access Points based on the 802.11b protocol. [The wireless networks] will connect to the QNOC Tower through a router and via an ISDN line," explains Al Mansoori.

"The stadium wireless network will be available for journalists, photographers and VIPs," he continues.

To ensure security integrity is maintained over the wireless network, while also providing simplicity to users, QNOC is planning to provide different user access levels and secure the network through a combination of encryption and authentication protocols.

"Security will be through several levels, there will be encryption from the access points and authentication through the terminal access controller access control system (TACACS). However, internet users [will not require] authentication, while application users will access the QNOC network with TACACS authentication," says Al Mansoori.||**||

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