Case Studies

Bridging gaps

Bahman Enterprises Group achieves reliable connectivity across multiple offices with a Fortinet solution.

Bahman Enterprises Group, an established powerhouse in the Middle East, represents various international brands for small electrical domestic appliances for its wholesale distribution division in the region, and high-end tableware and decorative items sold through its exclusive retail outlets in UAE. It has its seven King Store showrooms in different Emirates, one warehouse in Al Awir, and its headquarters in Dubai. For more than 40 years the company has been operating throughout the UAE, with the sales team expected to travel continuously and log into the group network using VPN. The Group has over 50 LAN users in its head office and an additional 20 to 30 users on the WAN.

“We have around five companies that are into different market segments. Our main business is wholesale distribution with additional retail operations. We also work in the hospitality sector, have our own marketing company and service centre. We have showrooms, the warehouse and the head office spread across the various emirates. Since we are into wholesale operations, orders would be collected and entered into a central system at the headquarters. We wanted this to be immediately reflected in the systems at the warehouse. For this we required site-to-site connection,” says Fahumie Farook, IT
manager at Bahman Enterprises Group.

Apart from this, there were the retail stores, the service centre and the hospitality division, all of which needed reliable connectivity to a single ERP solution. The company had a VPN through the Internet and backup was through an ISDN connection. This was the situation last year.

According to Farook, the company rarely had trouble with site-to-site connectivity. The issue was always client-to-site, where it was struggling to find the right solution.

“We wanted web filtering. We had to know how the Internet was being utilised and there were demands to control the use of social media. With the big-brand router that we were using this was not possible. Besides, client-to-site connection was always a mess. The software which they were providing was not working with many clients, including vista. We faced issues from mission to mission. And a lot of time was spent to troubleshoot and support this,” says Farook.

The company also had plans to enable its sales people to work remotely. The infrastructure presented a challenge to this requirement as well. The group has decided that a change was necessary.

The IT team decided to look for another network security solution, which would provide the group with a seamless VPN connection, linking the staff to all office locations from anywhere in the region. Farook also needed a robust system that would not need constant on-site monitoring.

After consulting with Teksalah, Fortinet’s partner in the UAE, and considering multiple solutions, Bahman Enterprises Group opted to deploy Fortinet’s FortiGate multi-threat network security appliances
at their various offices. To begin with, the group installed one FortiGate-110C appliance in its head
office, activating the firewall, VPN, traffic shaping, intrusion prevention (IPS), antivirus, antispyware,
antimalware, Layer 2/3 routing and Web filtering security functions available within the device. Due to its accelerated security throughput, high port density, and ease of management, the FortiGate-110C allowed
Farook to quickly deploy enterprise-class security. The deployment of the appliance was done by Teksalah.

Farook also opted for FortiGate-30B appliances at three of Bahman Enterprises Group remote office – a warehouse in Al Awir, the hospitality unit and its service centre. These units serviced its support staff and provided them with seamless connectivity to the head office via VPN. Thanks to the FortiGate solution
deployment, Farook could benefit from complete content protection, including firewall, IPS, antivirus, antispyware, antispam, IPSec VPN, web filtering, application control, data leakage prevention,and even VoIP support. The entire implementation was completed in 2010, and according to Farook, it reduced the workload of the team tremendously. This counted a whole lot for the two member IT
team that handled the needs of over 200 people across the enterprise.

“We needed a UTM machine like Fortinet’s. It provided us everything we wanted including the web filtering as well as VPN client-to-site connectivity without any hassle. It also enabled us to provide better security online. Now our web site automatically prompts people to download the right elements for SSL VPN security, in case you are missing the same on your computer. This way we remain secure, and the amount of work necessary from the IT team is dramatically reduced,” says Farook.

According to him, the feedback from the end-users across the organisation was extremely positive to the implementation. The IT team found that when people travelled on vacation the ease with which they could connect to office resources increased many fold with the new solution.

According to Farook, the Fortinet security deployment has provisioned a seamless and robust connection across the entire team, even those travelling and logging into the system from outside the UAE. Bahman Enterprises Group has successfully tested the system from Europe as well as from its team members in KSA and Lebanon.

“We (the IT team) used to get a lot of complaints that the line was too slow or there were frequent disconnections, etc. but now, with the Fortinet solution, we have had no complaints from the team,” added Farook. “Every thing works fine, even speed is fantastic and I’ve had no complaints for remote login either.”

New efforts
With the help of Fortinet, the sales team is now enabled with a mobile solution that allows them to work remotely, and connect to the office whenever they need to. The IT team is moving ahead keeping in mind the specific needs of the growing enterprise.

“We are planning to set up a primary data centre this year. The office will be relocated and we are getting into exports as well. Having more regional offices is the direction we are moving in. We are also working on launching our own brand of household appliances, and that would mean into active manufacturing.
From here we will also try supplying the international market. These are the many changes that we are expecting. IT has to keep up with these changes, enable the business to move forward and capitalise on these investments in an active manner,” says Farook.

With all of the above, the IT team continues to have its hands full.

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