Avea is the sole GSM 1800 mobile services operator in Turkey. Constrained by the global depletion of IPv4 addresses and challenged by new government legislation, Avea’s future growth prospects were far from assured.
Following the deployment of the F5 VIPRION platform, this innovative mobile communications company has increased its data service subscriber numbers and achieved 25 percent business growth.
Founded in 2004, Avea is a young but ambitious business. It aims to be “the most admired and preferred mobile telecommunications company” in the country. As well as increasing its market share, Avea strives to deliver an ever- increasing range of innovative solutions. However, by 2011, its aspirations were being hampered by the worldwide exhaustion of IPv4 addresses.
Avea had a stock of 800,000 IPv4 addresses at its disposal, which meant that it could support up to 800,000 subscribers on its network at any one time. “Our customer numbers were increasing steadily and we were getting close to this maximum number,” explains Koral Ozgunay, Packet Backbone Network Department Manager at Avea. “If we hadn’t been able to resolve this problem, it would have constrained the growth of our business.”
Avea also faced a number of pressing data management challenges. Like other mobile operators in Turkey, the company had to comply with new legislation and make information accessible to the government. However, the required data currently resided on multiple different systems. To prevent costs from escalating out of control, Avea needed to find a new way to collate all of this data via a single system and deliver it in near real time, without having to vastly increase its data storage.
Avea already used F5 solutions within its business and was very happy with their performance. The company therefore decided to deploy the F5 VIPRION platform and BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager (LTM) software module to help it overcome its challenges. By deploying this solution in its network in front of its Internet routers, Avea is now able to translate private IP addresses into public IP addresses and thereby relieve its IPv4 constraints. VIPRION also helps Avea to ease its transition to IPv6 by supporting both IPv6 and IPv4 protocols simultaneously.
One feature of F5 solutions that Avea particularly likes is the F5 iRules programming language, which enables companies to easily change standard F5 operations to meet the precise requirements of the business. “The VIPRON platform is easy to programme, and this gives our business unique flexibility in the face of changing requirements,” says Mehmet Erkul, Transport Network Director at Avea.
Erkul continues: “The legislative environment in Turkey is constantly changing. iRules gives us the flexibility to adapt our systems over time to meet new government requirements.”
Another feature that Avea benefits from is F5’s deterministic NAT capability. Available with BIG-IP LTM, this feature reduces logging requirements during the transition from public to private IP addresses. This capability helps companies to reduce their storage requirements.
A further advantage of BIG-IP LTM is its inbuilt security mechanisms. The solution is designed to effectively block even the most aggressive attacks. For example, it will detect distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks and either reject them completely or route the connections away from the core network. Avea was pleased to employ this functionality to help it protect its critical network and deliver an optimal service for customers.
The F5 VIPRION platform immediately resolved Avea’s IPv4 constraints, paving the way for the company to expand its customer base and mobile services. Indeed, over a three month period following the deployment of VIPRION, Avea achieved a 25 percent growth in its business. The company’s mobile network now has over a million subscribers and the capacity to increase this figure substantially.
The blade architecture of the VIPRION platform provides cost-effective scalability because Avea can add more blades, as needed, when it grows. “F5’s VIPRION platform gives us the scalability and flexibility to grow from 1 million to 16 million customers without having to change our existing systems,” says Ozgunay.
Using iRules, Avea has been able to configure its VIPRION platform to collate all of the data it is required to submit to the Turkish government. If Avea had not deployed VIPRION, the company estimates that it may have taken it three to six months of effort to develop a bespoke system for collating the data required for compliance. Ozgunay says: “We don’t need to touch any other systems in our network to compile government reports; we can obtain all the data we need from a single source—VIPRION.”
What’s more, Avea doesn’t need to invest in substantial storage hardware and systems to store all its data logs for the government. By using F5’s carrier-grade deterministic NAT feature, it is able to keep its storage requirements to an absolute minimum. “We estimate that we have saved USD $1 million by not having to increase our storage capacity for logs,” comments Ozgunay.
Since its deployment, VIPRION has successfully blocked a wide range of attacks on Avea’s network, which would otherwise have absorbed network bandwidth and resources. Consequently, the performance of Avea’s mobile network has improved by 10–15 percent overall, enabling the company to deliver a better quality of experience for its subscribers.
In the future, Avea may use VIPRION for other purposes, including TCP optimisation and security, to gain added value from the platform.