Gulftainer Company Limited, the largest privately owned port management company in the Middle East by number of terminals operated, has installed a robust wireless network at its new headquarters using 11ac Access Points (APs), a mobility controller and Clearpass.
In addition to its three UAE operations in Khorfakkan, Sharjah and Hamriyah, Gulftainer manages operations at Umm Qasr in Iraq, Recife in Brazil, Tripoli in Lebanon and in the Jeddah and Jubail container terminals in Saudi Arabia. The company also has recently signed a 35-year concession with the Canaveral Port Authority in Florida, marking Gulftainer’s first venture in the United States.
Need for a Centralized, Smart and Easy-To-Manage Wireless Infrastructure
Towards the end of 2014, Gulftainer moved its headquarters to the Sarh Al Emarat office tower in Sharjah. While a move of this magnitude is usually an IT Manager’s worst nightmare, for Mr. Vinay Sharma, Group IT Manager at Gulftainer, the move was a blessing in disguise as it gave him and his team the ideal opportunity to make significant upgrades to the wireless network infrastructure. The network infrastructure at Gulftainer’s old headquarters was a piecemeal solution that had been gradually extended over the years to accommodate the company’s expansion. This fragmented solution required regular manual configuring of access points and troubleshooting on the part of the IT team.
The management of secure guest access for the wireless network had become a concern for Mr. Sharma and his team as each day over fifty guests could visit the Gulftainer headquarters. These are a mix of one-time and returning visitors, and in each instance, an IT resource was needed to grant wireless access to the user. The new system has now automated this function thereby freeing up valuable IT manpower.
Aruba Clearpass – the Deciding Factor
Thanks to the Aruba solution, we have seen a 15% reduction in our IT Service Desk ticket volume and are also closer to our goal of achieving ISO 27000 certification.
Vinay Sharma, Group IT Manager, Gulftainer
As an IT veteran Mr. Sharma carried out significant research on a number of the leading wireless network providers, assessing their products and services against Gulftainer’s business needs. The adaptability and flexibility of the Aruba ClearPass Policy Management Platform – a single foundational solution, with the ability to manage network policies, deploy AAA services, configure and secure personal devices, connect guest users and assess device health – made it an easy choice for the company.
Prior to the ClearPass platform’s installation, the Gulftainer team conducted over two months of extensive Proof of Concept (PoC) testing in a controlled environment. The results of the testing met their expectations and over a two-month period, between November 2014 and January 2015, Gulftainer, in partnership with Alpha Data Company, completed the implementation of the Aruba Enterprise Wireless LAN solution and Aruba ClearPass Policy Management solution at their new headquarters.
Two months into the implementation Mr. Sharma couldn’t be happier with the results. “We adopted a ‘best in class’ approach and leveraged the most appropriate solution for each aspect of our IT infrastructure. Aruba’s solution has been seamlessly integrated into our multi-vendor environment,” said Mr. Sharma.
With the help of the Aruba 7030 Cloud Services Controller and 45+ Access Points (a combination of Aruba 115 Series and 225 Series Access Points), the Gulftainer IT team can now centrally support over 160 daily wireless users with an average throughput between 144mbps and 270mbps. Users can now also connect to the network anywhere in the office via a single SSID. This has significantly reduced the number of ‘non value-added’ calls to IT and more importantly improved the user experience.
Using ClearPass, Gulftainer was able to implement the selfservice portal for Guest Wi-Fi management. Guest access can now be granted by authorized employees without the intervention of the IT team.
And, the Gulftainer team can now easily set policy based end-point network access for all employees and guests. Furthermore, advanced end-point posture assessments and health checks ensure that all mobile devices are fully compliant prior to connection. Finally, the Gulftainer IT team now has better visibility and more control over all network users, thereby enhancing network security.
“Thanks to the Aruba solution, we have seen a 15% reduction in our IT Service Desk ticket volume and are also closer to our goal of achieving ISO 27000 certification,” said Mr. Sharma.
Expanding Wireless Capabilities to Operational Sites
With a centralized, secure, low maintenance, high-bandwidth wireless network in place at the Gulftainer headquarters, Mr. Sharma is eager to duplicate this success across Gulftainer’s three UAE operational sites. There are many challenges associated with such an implementation (size of the site, outdoor location, RF interference, etc.) – however Mr. Sharma is confident that with Aruba as a partner, it is only a matter of time before Gulftainer has a seamless wireless network across all its UAE facilities.
“At Aruba, we do not consider ourselves a product company but rather a solutions provider – we see our customers as partners, truly understand their network challenges and then work with them to find a solution that will add real value to the business. This project with Gulftainer not only gave us the opportunity to partner with one of the leading port management companies in the region but more importantly gave us the opportunity to help them realize their target of becoming an all wireless workspace,” concluded Mr. Zeeshan Hadi, Territory Manager at Aruba Networks.
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