The Saudi connection

The thought of building a datacentre from scratch can be extremely daunting. So when the Integrated Telecom Company (ITC) in Saudi Arabia decided to build three, it faced a major challenge as Duncan MacRae discovers.

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By  Duncan MacRae Published  July 13, 2007

Riyadh-based ITC is still in its relative infancy having been established in 2005, but it is has had to develop fast. Founded by a consortium of local investors, the company was awarded a license by the Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC) to provide local, national, and international data communications services.

Major investment followed, developing an IT network infrastructure that could cope was such a major task - including the construction of three datacentres throughout the nation in Riyadh, Jedddah and Khobar. These, it was hoped, would provide corporate network connectivity to every employee across the head office and branch offices making it the foundation for high availability connection for other IP services.

After serious consideration, ITC opted for an R&M cabling solution to provide the date centre infrastructure, with a SoftNet software solution.

"There are, of course, other vendors and a lot of products available in the market that can provide the same kind of function but we thought that R&M at the time offered the most flexibility," explains Sheriff Ismail, head of IT planning at ITC.

"The solutions are so flexible that they can be cost effective as well as being modular. There were other vendors that offered modular solutions but they weren't so cost effective. Also, the quality of work and the quality of the R&M cable, I believe, is up to our standards."

R&M supplied complete Cat6 copper along with fibre optic connection for the backbone, with colour coding for the highest cabling connectivity and data security along with the global patch panels and patch cords. R&M solutions were also chosen among competitors due to it offering security and continuity according to Ismail.

"We looked at Lucent, 3M - there are many cabling solutions available. We looked at all of these and opted for R&M. We didn't just have to choose R&M, we also had to choose the partner who would work with us and we chose SoftNet," says Ismail.

SoftNet is currently implementing a metro project where the fibre will be connected to residential homes, following the integration of the headquarter office and branches in Jeddah and Khubbar.

The headquarter and branches are normal LAN implementations but the metro project was a new kind of implementation in KSA and this is the first time SoftNet has connected fibres to homes.

Wissam Ashkar, KSA sales manager at SoftNet, says: "ITC has an aggressive plan to connect residential homes to fast Ethernet. This is the future of connectivity and we were very happy to partner with R&M and ITC to make this solution available to the Saudi Arabian public.

"We've had good experiences of working with ITC and we worked together well during the design and implementation for their headquarter and branches. The R&M cables have proved to be reliable, cost effective and up to the international cabling standards. We managed to deploy these projects in record time with the help of highly qualified R&M certified engineers."

ITC was equally as happy with its experience of working with SoftNet and, being a start-up company, it felt that the flexibility it knew it would get from the contractors was very important. What it was really looking for was a company that would listen to its needs and could cooperate with it in order to achieve the overall goals.

"This cooperation was one of the key things and we've been able to achieve this with SoftNet," says Ismail. "They were also very cooperative financially. They had people on-site and were very responsive with support. These are some of the features that appealed to us in choosing the company.

"This isn't just one solution we're implementing. We keep on expanding as we're a data service provider. Covering the whole of Saudi is very, very important to us so when we started we were working in three cities and now it's more like 20 cities. We are constantly growing and developing."

The datacentre networking project, which began in the second half of 2005, was officially completed at the end of 2006. The project cost around US$2 million in total.

"In this field there are a few problems that come up which we have to deal with but they're not showstoppers," Ismail says. "Actually, I would say we didn't have any real problems with this implementation. There have been some but not related to R&M. Problems might relate to an implementation but from an R&M perspective we haven't had any issues so far.

"I wouldn't say we've completely finished with this project though because our development will continue. We started the project in 2005 so for the past one and a half years we've been working with SoftNet and I'm sure we will continue to do so.

"Looking at what we have all achieved together I would say so far, so good. We're able to upgrade and change things as and when it suits our needs which is great. The scalability is definitely there."

R&M is also looking forward to continuing this good work in the years to come. Laurent Amestoy, regional manager at R&M MEA says: "ITC being a data service provider has a road map to create many more datacentres in smaller cities along with its FTTx project role-out in the near future. R&M's local presence, support and services will help ITC to strengthen its position in delivering these services."

ITC has come a long way in its short lifetime. One of its major ambitions is to be recognised as a specialised service provider. It wants to offer innovative and world-class networks, data, communication and multimedia services to enterprise and consumer markets. If it is not there yet, it is not far off it, and R&M and SoftNet look set to continue to play a major part.

"We will keep supplying ITC with the highest standards using the latest R&M cabling which is all about quality, security, continuity, innovation and flexibility," adds Ashkar.

"R&M structured cabling solutions cater to the growing demand of organisations and enterprise businesses for secure, uninterrupted access to information across their networks," he concludes.

Project details


Integrated Telecom Company, Saudi Arabia


Three high-availability datacentres across Saudi Arabia, including R&M Cat6 copper cabling with implementation support from SoftNet.


Late 2005 to late 2006.


To provide connectivity and data security in its three data centres in Riyadh, Jedddah and Khobar. Longer term plan is to provide comprehensive connectivity across Saudi Arabia, which will require high-capacity datacentres across the country.

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