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Sun 18 May 2008 06:00 AM

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Y GSM claims first virtual desktop infrastructure in Middle East

Y GSM, Yemen's third mobile telecoms operator, has become the first enterprise in the Middle East to implement a virtualised desktop infrastructure (VDI) from Sun Microsystems.

Y GSM, Yemen's third mobile telecoms operator, has become the first enterprise in the Middle East to implement a virtualised desktop infrastructure (VDI) from Sun Microsystems.

At its head office, Y GSM has installed Sun blade servers running VMWare serving virtual instances of Windows XP to the 400 IT desks in the organisation, which includes remote shops and franchises. Instead of traditional PCs, the operator has opted for Sun Ray thin clients with security based on a smartcard system, allowing users to move their sessions across clients without the loss of data.

"Our vision when we implemented this IT network was to have the latest technology based in the virtualisation and standardisation concept, to obtain a high performance and high availability for data and the organisation as well. Under this vision, we looked for desktop virtualisation and data centralisation," says Ammar Abu Ghanem, IT core network head of unit.

Christopher Saul, sales manager for desktop virtualisation at Sun Microsystems EMMA (Eastern Mediterranean Middle East and Africa) believes this project represents a number for firsts both for Sun and virtualisation efforts in the region.

"It's to the best of my knowledge probably the first virtualised server environment in Yemen and certainly the first virtualised desktop infrastructure development in Yemen and one would expect in the Gulf as well," he claims.

"The nice thing is that it's been done in a region which might be considered to have certain difficulties in terms of terrain and the skillsets being quite expensive. For the average conservative IT manager who thinks he's not doing his job if he doesn't look at VDI but is concerned about being the first to do it, well guess what? A regional telco with more challenges than some other telcos has done it. It works beautifully, proves the concept and is saving them money hand over fist," explains Saul.

Saul also hit out at other infrastructure vendors who continue to focus on traditional PC environments.

"I think it's definitely a wake-up call for other vendors. People here are very focused on price, how much a PC costs and so on. But if you buy 300 PCs it might be cheap, but if it takes you three months to get them up and running, each of those users that were supposed to using them are not making money for the company. With these kinds of solutions, you can get your employees making money for the company much more quickly," he says.

Remote and franchise users can access Y GSM systems through Sun's Secure Global Desktop, which provides them with a secure connection to VMWare-based instances of Windows XP in the firm's datacentre.

Abu Ghanem believes the system has brought dramatic cost savings and improvements in efficiency: "From the IT side, we have reduced the number of employees needed and a lot of headaches. We have reduced the number of IT incidents and have also reduced the time needed to solve these incidents. If we have any problems with the virtual desktop, with ten minutes to a maximum of one hour we can solve the problem - this is a big achievement."

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Faruk Awadh 12 years ago

It's very interesting that this technology has been applied in Yemen, as pioneer in the region, thanks to Ammar and all his team on this great work