Cisco - ASAL Case Study


In 2008 Cisco decided to offer eight development projects to companies in Palestine. The projects were to be managed by Cisco’s Israeli office and formed part of a commitment made by John Chambers to invest £10million over three years into helping to develop the Palestinian ICT industry. Despite the social angle involved in the programme each project was of significant importance to Cisco’s business and had to result in economic benefits for the company.

Cisco Systems is a global ICT company that designs and sells networking and communications technology and services under four brands: Cisco, Linksys, WebEx and Scientific Atlanta. Cisco’s market coverage ranges from selling Enterprise and Service Provider solutions to addressing customer needs in many other segments including Small Consumer and Commercial.

Asal Technologies is a software and IT services outsourcing house established in Ramallah, Palestine  in 2000 and is a part of the Massar  International, multinational group. ASAL was one of a number of companies that submitted proposals and won two projects both relating to Cisco’s Active Network Abstraction system (ANA).

Cisco Active Network Abstraction (ANA) is a powerful, next-generation network resource management solution. Its virtual nature provides users with a strong and reliable platform for service activation, service assurance and network management. It also provides a flexible, vendor-neutral resource management system that supports both a multiservice network environment along with the management capabilities required to sustain reliable, converged voice, video and data networks.

The Projects
ASAL was chosen for the two projects based on a number of factors including its experience in  the JAVA programming language, its proven reputation in developing high quality software for other clients and its access to high quality engineers with experience to manage and successfully complete major projects. The project kicked-off in early 2009.

Specifically the projects addressed two elements of ANA: first was to overcome some limitations of the reporting tool in the product; the second was to improve the existing Simulator to cover all ANA testing needs related to network devices.

Reporting tool
The current ANA solution needed an improved reporting environment. The existing framework was based on the Jasper reporting tool, which had a number of limitations.  ASAL’s task was to build a new tool to replace this and add missing reporting functionality. There are many reporting tools options in the market and ASAL had to review these and agree the ones with the best functionalities and performance for the job.

From these reviews ASAL proposed Business Intelligence and Reporting Technology (BIRT) to CISCO.  ASAL chose BITRT technology because it is an open source application with functionality that cannot be found in other technologies like Jasper and Crystal reports. BIRT also offers an extremely strong charting engine.  Overall the final solution was to use and integrate several technologies including: Eclipse Ganymede, JAVA, JDK, Oracle database, BIRT reports, Jasper reports, Crystal and JFree reports.

The specific services being provided by ASAL are the investigation and development of reporting technologies, systems development and testing and Quality Assurance (QA).

ANA Network Device Simulator
The ANA Network Device Simulator started as Sheer simulator, a tool for testing Active Network Abstraction system with large numbers of virtual network devices. A network device is 'recorded’ using the Recorder component of the simulator. The resulting image is used by the Player component to simulate the device. With this tool, an arbitrary number of recorded devices can be simulated and used to test ANA.

The Sheer Recorder was rewritten to provide a better, user friendly experience. The new Padma Recorder sports a very accessible and friendly GUI, multithreading improvements, and a multitude of new features that integrate the recorder with the new Padma Manager vision.

The project is a good example of ASAL’s ability to stay up to date with technology and work with the latest and most popular technologies available worldwide; the technologies used in the project were Java (1.6), Eclipse, IDE and Network Protocols (SNMP, Tenet, SSH, etc.)

ASAL team is providing Cisco with the following services:

  • Finding creative solutions to current Simulator limitations
  • Design and Development of new features
  • Design and Develop implementations  Code restructuring.
  • Interface design and development
  • Testing
  • Documentation

The benefits of the projects to both Cisco and ASAL are:

  • Timeline reduction,  through CISCO and ASAL working on the projects Cisco will be able to get the developments to market faster hence increasing revenues and market share, 
  • Cost saving, the partnership will  cut operational costs by more than 50%,
  • A more complete product for Cisco that address the demands of the market,
  • The co-location means ASAL can complete critical work and send it to Cisco the next day; this enables the work to be completed much faster.
  • ASAL has gained experience from working with CISCO which is a leading company in networking and software development. ASAL team will also profit from the training and knowledge development courses,

The Client View
Both projects have been successful and have seen extensions.  Yossi Shani R&D manager said “Asal team are highly motivated, working hard and achieve the goals and deadlines set for the project”