Our journey with Elastic began with a search for a single monitoring platform service for all kinds of applications and infrastructure across geographies and in the cloud. Like many other organisations who use Elastic, our story does not end there. Instead, it has evolved to support new use cases and to secure us a managed security service provider partnership (MSSP) with Elastic so that we can help our customers experience the same digital transformation success we’ve realised along the way.
inq. operates in six different countries as a Pan-African cloud-based digital service provider. We manage a wide variety of network infrastructure, ranging from a pure wireless network to thousands of kilometres of fibre for customers in banking, oil and gas industries, mining, health, real estate, IT, public sector, logistics and more.
Centralising multi-country distributed network monitoring with Elastic
The wide variety of monitoring tools (customer endpoint monitoring, security monitoring, link status monitoring, network monitoring for core and MPLS, fibre monitoring, and more) provide a great deal of insight into each area. Yet, we lacked interconnectivity of information because all of the different data was in isolated databases, making it difficult for us to aggregate and correlate.
One of the critical aspects of managing all these operating companies is access and providing value to our shareholders. As an example, a customer issue in one of our operations was escalated to me. Still, I could not access the data as I had to log in to multiple tools to identify the issue.
To help solve these challenges, we were not looking for another monitoring tool but rather a large-scale geographically distributed platform that could be customised to suit various touchpoints on the network. Since we are investing in new cloud and digital solutions that some existing monitoring tools cannot support, we needed a single monitoring platform service for all applications and infrastructures.
This is where Elastic comes into the picture. Elastic has never been known as a telecom network monitoring tool; typically, Elastic has been more used for application visibility and log aggregation. But the architecture of Elastic is built for scale and customisation. Our objective was to see if we could use Elastic as a single monitoring platform across all operating companies for all kinds of services.
We have deployed our distributed Logstash in all Opco’s. This acts as an aggregation of data sources, sending the information back to our Elastic Cloud instance for processing.
Each opco has its own spaces with role-based access and customised Kibana dashboards to suit its requirements.
We have also deployed a single-sign-on integration with our inq control platform to enable customers to view their network utilisation.
This provides immense visibility into the customer’s network and notifies them when we detect something is wrong.
Currently, we are monitoring all internal infrastructure, all routers/switch interfaces, wireless base stations, customer links, and customer utilisation analytics.
All the custom dashboards which we have in inq are built from scratch to suit our network and to give us the ability to expand to our other products such as Edge-AI, SDN/NFV and Cloud IaaS.
Example dashboards we’ve deployed:
Next Steps: SIEM, revenue capture, and customer success
In addition to the central network visibility, we quickly saw that adding Elastic Security for SIEM was a no brainer. This has given us the ability to perform machine learning and predictive analytics, so we can now be more intelligent in identifying customer issues beforehand and use this intelligence to predict other aspects of the business.
The following steps for us include rolling out SIEM internally for our employees and utilising our data to start running machine learning predictive analytics.
Since we now have all of our network links in our Elastic Infrastructure, this data can now be integrated with our Finance and Operations Platform to ensure we accurately track our billing. This helps us capture revenue by identifying links that have not been billed but are still running traffic.
Finally, we’ve seen the business benefits and success of Elastic first-hand. We’ve also invested heavily into creating custom dashboards and multi-tenant capabilities. Our next focus is to expand this service to our customers and partners to help them achieve the same level of visibility that we are enjoying and taking advantage of today.
We are proud to be the first Elastic MSSP partner in Sub-Saharan Africa. We believe Elastic is a fantastic platform that can help enterprises and service providers fast track their digital transformation.
Learn more about .inq
Learn more about the Elastic MSP program.
By Pramod Venkatesh, inq. Group CTO & Tunde Dada, inq. Group Head of IT