The Internet Services Unit associated with King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, needed to build a scalable public cloud service that is automated and on-demand. It also needed to provide reliable operations for their customers, which includes the academic institutions and government organisations in Saudi Arabia. Internet Services Unit was able to satisfy this requirement by deploying VMware NSX for network and security virtualisation. It also implemented VMware vRealize Automation to automate the service creation and delivery of personalised infrastructure and applications to its customers.
Internet Services Unit was established as part of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, as an independent scientific organisation. Internet Services Unit’s function is to support the technology needs of education and government sector in Saudi Arabia, with the primary focus on providing Internet and IT services, in addition to consultation to academic institutions.
Part of the mandate for Internet Services Unit is to provide hosting services to academic customers who have growing demands. Internet Services Unit had the target of building a cloud service to meet these demands, but needed a reliable platform that they could easily deploy and maintain. Additionally, it was important that it had wide industry support, native advanced security capabilities and could serve as a strong foundation to build a roadmap of future services.
One challenge was the lack of simple, flexible, feature rich and easy to manage solutions in the market. Another challenge was the need to provide customers the capability to automatically choose the security needed and be able to configure the supporting network on demand without human intervention, all the while maintaining complete and secure isolation of customer assets from other customers or internal shared services.
Essentially Internet Services Unit needed to provide Firewall-as-a-Service to their customers. Additionally, the solution they were looking for had to provide a unified IT service catalogue to deliver Infrastructure-as-a-Service, and have the capability to provide Platform-as-a-Services and Software-as-a-Service.
After their evaluation and analysis, Internet Services Unit decided on VMware to meet their requirements and business challenges. Positive results were achieved with their deployment of VMware NSX and VMware vRealize Automation. vRealize Automation provides the automation, workflows and unified service catalogue for their customers, that also embedded security and networking services through NSX.
The customer logs on securely through the VPN provided by NSX, to their service catalogue and chooses one of various IaaS services, and can also choose a firewall service on top of it, also through NSX. This provides the customer with the capability to build a multi-tier setup on the fly with all the needed security and networking. Additionally, Internet Services Unit built the capability for customers to choose if they wanted their services to be consumed as a virtual private cloud service or as a public cloud service.
The virtual private cloud service would allow requested services, such as virtual machines, to only be accessible from the customer campus and thus secure from the outside world. The public cloud service consumption mode allowed customers, such as universities, to select specific virtual machines to be accessible to the wider Internet, so that students and professors for example can access needed university applications and their academic data from their homes. Internet Services Unit’s cloud service was designed, planned and deployed by Internet Services Unit, independent of external professional service organisations.
Internet Services Unit has built the first on-demand and self-service public cloud service in Saudi Arabia, where customers are now able to access the datacentre directly and securely through an automated portal to request new services and to manage existing workloads without any human or manual interaction. Customers can self-provision computational and storage resources with the needed network and security facilities built in. Additionally, automated multi-tier applications can be provisioned with all the underlying networking and security automatically provisioned. Customer administrators have the control to choose between having their new services available as a Virtual Private cloud service only visible through their campus, or as public service accessible though the public Internet.
Khaleel K Al-Jadaan, Deputy Director, Network Operations Manager, Internet Services Unit said, “A complete and secure cloud service was the top priority. We were facing a challenge to identify the right solution and vendor that could cater to our needs and help us overcome our business challenges.”
“Through this solution from VMware, we are able to improve our customer satisfaction by giving them on-demand self-service control to rapidly provision their own services and networking through our portal, in a secure and governed manner,” said Dr Mohammed, Director of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, Internet Services Unit.
“After implementing the solution from VMware, to automate the networking and security of our hosted customers, we were greatly relieved of the headache of frequent requests made for provisioning and changes, which were needed to be done to the network and firewall configuration,” said Mohamad Al-Ghamdi, Network and Security Operations Manager.
“The implementation of cloud services with VMware has given us a great opportunity to lead the market in Saudi Arabia in a growing education and government sector. After evaluating the success rate post deployment, we have realised that we are able to deliver new services to customers within an hour, which used take from 4 days up to 3 weeks. This enables our team to spend more time on less manual tasks, not to mention invest in new projects,” said Abdulmajeed Al-Osaimi, Systems and Development Manager.