“Not only was the Infoblox solution carrier grade and fit for purpose; it promised a high degree of scalability, which meant it would aid our rapid growth.” —Salem Moh Al-Marri, senior director, Core Networks, at Ooredoo
Ooredoo is a leading international communications company delivering mobile, fixed, broadband Internet, and corporate managed services tailored to the needs of consumers and businesses across markets in the Middle East, North Africa, and Southeast Asia. Formerly known as Qtel Group, the company has a customer base of more than 93 million and reported revenues of USD 9.3 billion in 2012, making it one of the fastest-growing telecommunications companies in the world. In Qatar, Ooredoo is the preferred choice for world-class communications for consumers, businesses, residences, and organizations, serving approximately 300,000 customers.
As one of the fastest growing telecommunications companies in the world, and the premier provider in Qatar, Ooredoo was rapidly expanding its customer base. While this was great from a business perspective, the company’s IT division began to take note of the strain being place on its fixed core network, which was essential to its fiber to the x (FTTx) offerings. In particular, the limitations of the telecommunications provider’s Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) solution were becoming more prominent with each addition to the customer base.
“We started with a solution from a smaller company that wasn’t quite carrier grade. But when our user base in Qatar surpassed the 250,000 mark, it simply wasn’t good enough and started to cause stability issues,” says Salem Moh Al-Marri, senior director, Core Networks, at Ooredoo.
Besides this, the vendor was simply unable to provide the level of support expected of a world-class telecom provider, and this only increased the challenges. Faced with the risk of customers being unable to connect due to system instability, Salem and his team began to evaluate new DHCP solutions that could meet their needs.
Stability, security, scalability, and proactive local support were identified as the key criteria for the new solution. The company also recognized this as an opportunity to address consolidation. At the time, it was providing each of its enterprise customers with dedicated on-premises DHCP, which added to both the cost and complexity of the network. The new solution would therefore have to be able to centralize this in a reliable and efficient manner.
Ooredoo made a thorough study of analyst reports and consulted with the IT teams of other telecommunications operators, which led it to select the DNS, DHCP, and IP address management (DDI) solution from Infoblox. “Not only was the Infoblox solution carrier grade and fit for purpose; it promised a high degree of scalability, which meant it would aid our rapid growth,” says Salem.
The Infoblox Solution
Under the guidance of Infoblox and Al-Falak, the vendor’s integration partner, Ooredoo began the rollout of Infoblox DHCP servers at two of its sites. In two weeks, these servers were deployed at the sites in load-balancing mode. As each of the Infoblox DHCP servers is capable of generating 1020 IP addresses per second, this gave the team a significant upgrade in performance over their previous non-carrier-grade solution. Furthermore, the use of two DHCP servers added a level of robustness and guaranteed high availability.
After thorough testing verified that the implementation could successfully meet all project requirements, Infoblox delivered intensive training to Ooredoo’s next-generation network (NGN) team. This included in-depth hands-on sessions on the solution’s powerful management and reporting tools.
The carrier-grade solution easily meets Ooredoo’s performance and scalability requirements, thus resolving previous stability challenges. “Customers no longer face connectivity issues related to DHCP instability, and this has increased customer satisfaction while driving down the number of helpdesk calls,” Salem says. Having only two DHCP servers as opposed to a distributed set-up has effectively eliminated the maintenance challenges that Ooredoo’s operations team used to face.
Thanks to the comprehensive management and reporting tools that are now available, the team has ready access to a wealth of knowledge that aids compliance, troubleshooting, and future planning. “We can easily generate detail-rich reports with vast amounts of usage statistics. This helps us understand and pre-empt trends and make modifications to our network as necessary. Given our forecasted growth, this is of vital importance,” he says.
Convinced by the solution’s performance and reliability, the telecom provider now plans to consolidate its DCHP infrastructure so as to eliminate the need for individual DHCP servers to be deployed on the premises of its enterprise customers. This convergence will further reduce Ooredoo’s network-management overhead. As the operator expands the scale and functionality of its FTTx network, Ooredoo will also leverage the Infoblox solution to serve its customer-premises (CPE) and IPTV customers. “Through all this, we know that we can expect the full support and expertise of the Infoblox team, which gives us confidence to stay on track with our ambitious expansion plans,” Salem concludes.