أبريل 18 2011

Internet Filtering in Saudi Arabia

For 10 years, Saudi Arabia (and most gulf region) has been using Bluecoat or Sidewinder to do filtering for Internet sites. In the beginning it was easy as the traffic was not exceeding 2Gbs at the peak. In 2006, after moving the internet network from KACST/ISU to STC, the traffic almost doubled each quarter which raises a big concern on the future of the current provided filtering solutions. Our main concern is the filtering and its efficiency and flexibility without degrading the performance on the customers and to be as transparent as possible.

The problems with the current solutions are:

  1. Limited bandwidth support (max 500Mbps).
  2. The traffic should be symmetric so when a request goes through one device its response should return to the same device even though there is no filtering on the incoming traffic. This problem makes it hard for ISPs to connect to two different carriers because they should do manual load balancing on the outgoing and incoming traffic.

Due to these problems we built a concept idea that will solve both problems, and then we begin to present it to our current vendors and offer it to them to implement it. Most of them refused to do it and one of them clearly told us that we are not willing to do it because you will buy only one or two devices while now you are buying dozens of devices. Fortunately, one of the Saudis accepted the challenge and he established his own company to provide that solution. It was a big risk as there was no one committed to buy the product.

After 4 years of development, the device is ready. I was really amazed with the result; it exceeded my expectations and dreams in the idea, it is even better than similar products in the market and has unique characteristics. Just for comparison, one device can replace more that 25 of the current used devices and its size is half of one device.

wirefilter_inblog

WireFilter is the name of that device; it has been designed for carrier-class traffic filtering. Currently it supports 10Gbps of HTTP traffic filtering while the currently used filtering solutions max at 500Mbps.

As the traffic in STC is reaching now 127Gbps it is hard to continue on with a 500Mbps devices. i was sure that if we don’t develop a solution, the filtering in Saudi Arabia will stop in 5 years. But as of now with WireFilter I see that filtering can continue (from Technical side) for a long period.

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