Network ruler

Axiom Telecom’s IT operations in Saudi Arabia has improved its control over remote users, and restricted bandwidth abuse with effective strategies backed by appropriate solutions.

  • E-Mail
By  Sean Robson Published  October 8, 2008

Axiom Telecom’s IT operations in Saudi Arabia has improved its control over remote users, and restricted bandwidth abuse with effective strategies backed by appropriate solutions.

The Middle East, as has been pointed out by observers, is a retail market unlike any other. Enterprises have retail points as well as service and distribution hubs, all located great distances from one another and this leads to a number of unique challenges, most notably for the IT staff. With internet based communication often the key to effective business practices the lack of bandwidth can be crippling to any firm, especially one like Axiom Telecom.

Axiom Telecom is one of the Middle East’s leading distributors of mobile and wireless communications. The company has over 400 retail outlets across the region and more than 1000 employees. Axiom also acts as a reseller of network operator airtime, and achieves revenues approaching US$1 billion annually.

The Linux based content filtering solution failed to provide effective control over the users’ surfing behaviour. As a result, we saw our bandwidth being eaten up.

In Saudi Arabia, Axiom comprises 180 outlets spread throughout the Kingdom. The IT infrastructure at Axiom is understandably quite complex with the head office hosting all the business critical applications. These applications are accessed via the internet by the the firm’s regional offices and remote locations using Citrix terminal services.

Axiom in KSA has progressively suffered from a growing misuse of bandwidth. This misuse not only meant that the bandwidth was being devoured but also exposed Axiom to a number of threats.

“We were using a Linux-based content filtering solution, with regulations based on the IP address instead of the specific user. It failed to provide effective control over the internet surfing behaviour of the employees. As a result, we saw our bandwidth being eaten up unnecessarily,” says Mohammed Parvez, IT supervisor at Axiom Telecom in Saudi Arabia.

Bandwidth is one of the great bugbears for CIOs throughout the Middle East as enterprises are faced with not only an insufficient supply, but also the relatively high cost of the available bandwidth.

Parvez was further concerned with how the unauthorised internet usage exposed the infrastructure to a number of blended threats including spyware, malware and viruses.

“There were three primary areas that I wanted to take care of when it came to a new solution. I needed to be able to reform the employees’ surfing habits and promote positive responsible behaviour, limit the security threats by deploying multi-tier gateway security and, most importantly, ensure the productive use of bandwidth,” explains Parvez.

Axiom engaged in a lengthy process of looking at the available products and solutions in the market place. The retail giant was looking for a solution that would simultaneously address both its bandwidth and security issues.

Safe, secure and cost-effective

“We approached the process of selecting a solution from three specific viewpoints. First, we looked at the features and performance of the solution versus the measurable costs. This enabled us to put together an initial shortlist. Secondly, we conducted our own product evaluations in a test environment in order to verify the features and performance. Finally, we did both pre-installation and post-installation support testing,” says Parvez.

After the extensive product evaluation had been done, Axiom settled on Cyberoam appliances. “Cyberoam met all of our requirements. It contains all the required features in one box – extensive reporting functions together with a unique user-based control for all necessary security functions like antivirus and anti-spam. Moreover, we received excellent service and support from Cyberoam both before and after installation,” says Parvez.

“Cyberoam has made it possible for us to control net access based on the user and well-defined protocols. Through it we have been able to create and enforce policies that allow us to work on web filtering and block unwanted applications,” he adds.

In addition, Parvez has been able to better manage and prioritise his bandwidth through the use of specific policies related to various users and applications. Productivity has improved by leaps and bounds, as the company is able to maintain internet uptime with link-load balancing as well as failover VPN features, which provide better connectivity between the head office and remote sites.

Axiom in Saudi Arabia currently has nine Cyberoam UTM security appliances with one CR100i at the head office and a further eight CR50 appliances located throughout the remote offices.

Core switches: None

Edge switches: Cisco Catalyst and HP 2650

Routers: Cisco series 1760

Firewalls: Cyberoam

Voice systems: Not yet – planning for next year

Servers: Citrix server at the head office

WAN optimization: None

Network operating systems: Windows

Remote access: VNC

Network management systems: NetOM, Linux HO

Storage: Solarwinds Orion, Netflow

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code