With five major players, Pakistan telecommunications is an aggressive market that has witnessed exponential growth reaching a mobile density of 59.8 per cent in May 2010. With more than 19 million subscribers, Ufone is among the leading mobile services providers. A wholly owned subsidiary of Pakistan Telecommunications Company, it is now part owned by Emirates Telecommunications. Due to intense competition, the company has a reputation for introducing innovative products and services, while minimising operating costs.
Until recently, the desktop infrastructure ran previous versions of Windows and Microsoft Exchange Server software. It needed an overall refresh to retain high levels of customer satisfaction. Faisal Khaliq, Chief Information Officer, Ufone, says: "Maintaining a secure environment is a major challenge in Pakistan - we need to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data."
Ufone was keen to improve its security and compliance infrastructure to avoid any risk of sensitive information reaching unauthorised people, and create proper data audit trails. Ali Ahmad Sarwar, Senior Manager IT - Enterprise and Infrastructure, Ufone, says: "Making critical business decisions and reducing time to market for new services require real-time reporting and analysis of data. It's only possible with a robust, highly available, state-of-the-art infrastructure. Users were also demanding increased mailbox sizes and new business applications."
Ali Salman Naqvi, Assistant Manager - Enterprise IT Infrastructure Planning, Ufone, says: "The previous default limit was 2 gigabytes per mailbox, and increasing it would have required major investment in the expansion of the storage area network. In most cases, users lacked the capacity to access more than a year of their back files of e-mail messages due to the 2 gigabytes limit."
Another priority for Ufone was to streamline the desktop deployment process by using standard operating system images and ensure automated deployment of software updates, boosting productivity and cutting the risk of downtime.
Ufone signed a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement with Enterprise Client Access License (ECAL) through Inbox Business Technologies, a direct large account reseller and systems integrator in Pakistan. With ECAL, the agreement covers key Microsoft products so upgrading was a cost-effective choice with no increased licensing implications. Ufone engaged Microsoft Services for envisioning, planning, and designing. Inbox became the implementation partner.
Working with the Microsoft account team, Ufone adopted the Microsoft Infrastructure Optimization model to build a comprehensive roadmap of new technologies. This included redesigning the Active Directory service on Windows Server 2008 R2, and upgrading to Exchange Server 2010 and Active Directory Rights Management Services. Further deployments involved Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2, System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2, and migrating desktops to Windows 7 Enterprise.
The company improved security and compliance with BitLocker drive encryption. It replaced McAfee antivirus software with Microsoft Forefront Client Security to protect against malware and virus attacks. Ufone also deployed Forefront Online Protection for Exchange to ensure enhanced security of its mail server.
Shahzad Akbani, General Manager - Services, Inbox Business Technologies, says: "We're shadowing Microsoft Services in the planning phase and have started the next stage to implement Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 communications and collaboration server." The work is due for completion in the third quarter of 2010. Ufone also enrolled in the Early Adopter Programme for Microsoft Office 2010, so the company can introduce it at an early stage when Exchange Server 2010 has been deployed.
Other projects that Ufone is planning as part of its optimisation roadmap include the rollout of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 business collaboration solution, Microsoft Forefront Threat Management Gateway 2010, and Microsoft Forefront Identity Manager 2010. Together, they will help Ufone streamline its identity and access management infrastructure.
With the upgrade to Exchange Server 2010, Ufone users will benefit from mailboxes five times bigger than before. IT administrators at Ufone will automate tasks to manage the mission-critical messaging service, which will free staff for higher value work on new initiatives. Security has significantly improved with the latest Microsoft antivirus and malware protection technologies. Naqvi says: "Previously, customers needed to archive all their e-mail messages. The scenario has completely changed for both our users and IT staff because we can support mailbox storage of up to 10 gigabytes with very little administrative effort."
- High database availability reduces risk of downtime. Ufone users will experience a much more reliable message service and less risk of losing data because of the database availability group (DAG) feature in Exchange Server 2010. It is also much easier to implement and manage than before.
- Microsoft Development Toolkit cuts deployment time to just 30 minutes. During the deployment to 250 computers, Inbox used the Microsoft Development Toolkit 2010 for Windows 7. Sarwar says: "Image deployment to a computer takes 30 minutes with the Microsoft toolkit - compared to three to four hours using a manual process."
- Security upgrade mitigates data loss risk. Data compromise can cause damage to reputation and revenue in a competitive market such as Pakistan. Naqvi adds: "Active Directory Rights Management Services and BitLocker have helped significantly reduce the risk of confidential data becoming lost."
- Enterprise Agreement eases cost of upgrade. The Microsoft Enterprise Agreement, with ECAL, gives Ufone low-cost licensing, and instant availability of the latest software, technical training, e-learning, and access to the home use programme for employees. Naqvi adds: "Microsoft technology is easy to adopt, and, in Pakistan, there is good support and availability of training programmes for staff."
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