Piecing together

The IT team at Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA) has fit technology to business aims to achieve the highest levels of service provision.

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By  Sathya Mithra Ashok Published  November 5, 2008

The IT team at Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA) has fit technology to business aims to achieve the highest levels of service provision.

The Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA) has the distinct advantage of being ‘young'. One of the most recent smart city projects to take shape in the region, the DSOA presents observers with a chance to see how technology investments and usage can be done just right from the beginning to get the most in the long term.

DSOA had to be especially nifty on the technology front because, unlike many other smart cities of the region, the organisation was going to host only technology companies - firms that would do and demand more from information than most other verticals.

We have the infrastructure ready, now the tools are coming on top of this foundation, and we expect to be web-enabled to a certain extent by the end of next year.

Now well into its third year, the DSOA plays host to more than 2000 companies, with new organisations joining in scores across its six wings and the central ‘icon' building. It has also established an infrastructure that can take it well into the next few years, keeping the unique business requirements in mind.

"The way I saw it was that we needed an infrastructure, which was state-of-the-art, up to date and to the level that most European and American organisations are enjoying. I thought about it and decided that the first thing we would need to do is to put in place a really strong and secure IT infrastructure which includes the communication, network, storage, servers, connectivity and overall recovery systems.

I thought about all this, how I can make an umbrella that contains all of these things, is necessarily state-of-the-art, without spending too much money, investing huge amounts in a big bang, doing it gradually but in a way that does not create any limitations for future growth," says Abdulsalam Rahma Al Bastaki, director of IT and services at DSOA.

The IT team found that the first step to set up world-class IT provision would involve very strong, high throughput network connectivity, with redundant, high availability switches, which can support not only DSOA but whatever tenants it gets.

"We went with Nortel and we implemented their switches as part of the first phase. Now we have completed the second phase, which is the deployment of two highly available redundant switches that take care of each other, in every wing of the buildings. We have right now seven areas of the tenants to cater to, as well as future growth for network requirements to consider.

With this second phase completed, the network and backbone is extremely stable, using fibre channel and switches all connected with high availability. Fibre has been used throughout the buildings, to connect everything to the last endpoint," states Bastaki.

Even when the first phase was completed the IT team realised that the next logical step for setting up service provision would involve using network throughput through measures like IP telephony.

"For this we went with Avaya. We saw that they have a market lead. To us, the company is ahead of everybody else when it comes to IP telephony. Many people are just following what Avaya is doing right now to catch up. We went about it in the same way as with the switches. We started with phase one, which involved having telephony for DSOA and two or three other buildings.

Now, we are working on the complete high availability of having redundant Avaya across all the structures, which can cater not only to these buildings currently, but for future growth. Right now we are working on this project with EMW as a provider," explains Bastaki.

The company has not only implemented the billing system for the technology already, but is also in the process of getting due approval for some of the services that it wants to provide its tenants through the IP system. Till such a time, these services will be provided only to DSOA employees.

However, there are other services that DSOA can provide already and it is moving on these rapidly.

"We thought that we should start providing various, different services to the tenants. To do that we need to have the right storage infrastructure, which we are about to finish deploying. We have selected a highly available Hitachi storage solution from the market and this is under progress of being deployed, and in fact is almost completed," says Bastaki.

At the next stage

"So you have the storage available, you have the network available, if you look at it under the umbrella, you have the communication and IP telephony and everything else. As you see, where we are going is with technology that is available. We are trying to use it and go with state of the art solutions," says Bastaki.

While the current infrastructure provides DSOA with the stability it requires, it is nowhere near the end of the line for the organisation.

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