Complex Made Simple

F5 networks, Cisco collaborate to launch advanced DR data centers at QU

Project to support university growth, student services and serve as a software-defined networking learning resource

Qatar University (QU) bolstered its ability to grow and innovate by launching one of the Middle East’s most advanced disaster recovery (DR) data centres.

Using technology from F5 Networks and Cisco, QU is now one of the first education institutions in the region to run a software-defined (SDN) DR data center that is centralized, rapidly configurable and scalable. The project will also serve a learning resource for SDN research and ICT student development.

“It is an important achievement for QU to become the first academic institution in the Middle East to deploy an SDN DR data center,” said Trevor Moore, CIO, Qatar University.

”In particular, the project highlights how our IT development strategy is continually evolving to provide QU staff and students with the best possible state-of-the art and risk-free network services. It also stands as a best practice example and contribution to Qatar’s ambitions for transforming Doha into a smart city,” he added.

Key benefits of the new DR data center include cutting time-to-market for newly deployed services, reducing risk by removing touch points and management silos, as well as enhancing QU’s overall flexibility to scale and react to both controlled and unforeseen circumstances.

The project uses Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and F5 Networks technology to manage both low-level network services and higher level application services from one central management interface – the Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC).

The DR data centre runs on Cisco ACI, which combines the flexibility of software with the scalability of hardware performance, using Nexus 9000 switches and orchestration with Cisco APIC. It also facilitates rapid systems integration and customization for network services, monitoring, management, as well as orchestration with visibility for both physical and virtual networks.

F5 Networks’ contribution includes application delivery control and layer 4 through 7 functionality using the ACI-compatible F5® BIG-IP® Local Traffic Manager™ (LTM) in order to simplify, automate, and customize application delivery. In addition, the F5® BIG-IP® DNS scales and secures DNS infrastructure during high query volumes and DDoS attacks. The project design is flexible to integrate additional F5 solutions such as Advanced Firewall Manager (AFM) and Web Application Firewall (WAF).

“We are delighted to strategically collaborate with Cisco on this trailblazing project at Qatar University, which is all about automation, simplification and really showing what next generation data centers are capable of,” said Garth Braithwaite, Regional Director – Middle East and Turkey, F5 Networks.

“Today, it is more important than ever for organizations to deploy and deliver applications with speed, reliability and security that is capable of meeting meet pressing operational challenges such as security, cloud enablement and mobility,” Garth added.

Mohammad Hammoudi, General Manager, Cisco Qatar, said: “The combination of Cisco ACI and F5 Networks technology is genuinely transformative for the data center, enabling rapid provisioning, orchestration and scaling of critical network and application delivery services – all while maintaining or improving performance, security and reliability. Furthermore, as more and more devices and things become connected, the need to increase the expertise in ICT is accelerating not just in Qatar but also globally, the disaster recovery data center at QU will facilitate this vital learning experience enabling students to advance their IT skills.”