Network management

New builds have new networks, and new networks need managing. In Saudi Arabia, the private sector has taken the lead, but elsewhere in the region, control remains in control of the state.

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By  Eliot Beer Published  September 3, 2006

|~|tower200.jpg|~||~|The region’s construction boom is creating a new market for managed service providers, who can deal with the often vast networks which emerge from completed building projects. Last month NME spoke to the chairman of the Nagah Group about the King Abdul-Aziz Endowment Project – a mega-project in Mecca, with thousands of converged network devices likely to be connected as the construction is completed. Also in Saudi Arabia, managed services provider iNet is taking advantage of the current economic situation. Waseem Bashiti, director of business development and operations at the company, says it has seen a significant amount of growth in recent months. “Customers are realising the need to focus on the core services of their organisations; they are not equipped to manage hundreds of nodes and multi-carrier connections,” says Bashiti. “Now, they are more inclined to acquire our infrastructure, carrier and provider management services to ensure and improve the availability and reliability of their enterprise systems.” As with Nagah and KAEP, the actual developers of the projects do not have the resources to maintain and manage their buildings’ networks – especially when the networks will carry triple-play services, for the most part. As in KAEP’s case, where Nagah companies both installed the networks and took on the management functions, iNet deals with both the infrastructure and the management. Earlier this year, iNet adopted a network management solution from US firm Voyence to assist in managing its customers’ installations. The services provider needed a system which could help it diagnose problems faster, as its previous methods of problem-solving were not ideal. “It was all done through trial and error,” says Zakhir Nasser, technology operations manager at iNet. “In some cases it would take several hours to isolate the problem. The engineer would have to access our knowledge base and look for similarities and common problem issues in order to find the root cause of a configuration malfunction.” iNet’s Voyence system facilitates the management of up to 50,000 network devices, allowing the firm a much greater amount of flexibility and control in dealing with its customers. While Saudi Arabia’s private sector has stepped up to the challenge of managing new developments’ networks, other countries in the region take a very different approach. For much of the development across Dubai network services are provided by DIC Telecom, part of Tecom. By shifting control back to the private sector, cities like Dubai maintain a greater degree of control over the projects, but at the cost of the flexibility of the free market. On the other hand, having the might of the UAE’s second telecoms operator – du – has the potential to give the residents of new developments more market power, at least by proxy, than they would have with a private managed services company.||**||

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