JOIN Experience is a joint venture between the private company JOIN Wireless and state-owned POST Luxembourg Group. JOIN Wireless was founded in June 2013 by three Luxembourgish entrepreneurs, with a vision of becoming the preferred 3.0 telecommunications operator focused on delivering service to international markets of the future. Their offering includes fixed and mobile telephony. JOIN Experience holds a 4G license, and offers a wide array of cloud and IT services.
JOIN Experience launched their services in early 2014, which includes an offering of pan-European telephone, IT and cloud services. Roaming customers are charged a flat fee regardless of where they are in Europe. The offering was a pan-European offering from the start. Initially the sales efforts were mainly targeted at customers in and around Luxembourg, Belgium was added as a target market at the end of 2014. Germany and France are targeted for 2015/16.
JOIN is a young organization, but it doesn’t consider this a disadvantage. “On the contrary,” said Michael Mossal, CIO of JOIN Experience. “We are not hindered by a legacy environment, and can therefore select the best technologies as we build the entire infrastructure from scratch.” This led to a number of innovative choices, such as the combination of ZTE hardware components and VMware’s software defined data center (SDDC) concept, and NSX network virtualization technology.
The selection of VMware’s NSX network virtualization technology was a decisive choice that has given JOIN a strategic advantage. “The virtualization layer of NSX provides us with the freedom to act independently from the classical network components,” said Mossal. “In addition, the flexibility to add, move or replace network components without any impact on the network is another advantage. NSX brings the same advantages to our network that storage and server virtualization brought in the past - flexibility, cost-effectiveness, ease of use in management and maintenance. This is all made possible thanks to a large degree of automation.
“This architecture allows for an easy and speedy response to our customers’ needs”, said Ulf Theobald, IT Infrastructure Manager. “Rolling out new products, or starting services in new countries is not a matter of months anymore, but days. Our commercial director always says, ‘No matter what the customer wishes, you have to deliver it within 4 days.’ With the introduction of new, complex products that pop-up on a weekly basis that will not always be the case, but it is definitely realistic now.”
The use of a virtualization layer in combination with many virtual network agents requires an entirely different security approach compared to the traditional network environments. Network components are moved around, reassigned and sometimes even moved from one datacenter to the other. NSX lays the foundation for microsegmentation and unit level security, but to provide comprehensive protection for the virtual datacenter you need advanced security controls that protect workloads throughout their lifecycle, no matter where they sit.
IT Infrastructure Manager, JOIN Experience
“The telecom sector usually aims for 99.999% availability of the infrastructure - specifically in the case of third generation players such as JOIN. This means being able to provide tremendous advanced agility, which is entirely new to Telcos. The security solution should be selected accordingly, and when dealing with NSX architectures, the number of eligible security solutions is limited because of strict criteria. The only solution that met our strict criteria was Trend Micro’s Deep Security,” said Mossal. “Trend Micro supports multi-tenancy deployments, which is an additional bonus. Multi-tenancy based on platform and end-consumer tenants is absolutely crucial for JOIN. In this architecture, NSX plays a very important role in isolating both end-consumers as virtual operators. Deep Security’s multi-tenancy capabilities and its tight integration with NSX helps extend security to multi-tenant environments seamlessly.”
The combination of VMware virtualization and Trend Micro’s Deep Security solution provides JOIN Experience with the ideal infrastructure: a flexible environment which allows for a variety of stand-alone or integrated offerings (fixed and mobile telephony, mobile data, cloud offerings such as Microsoft Azure and Office 365), at the best possible price, with a transparent billing process, and high degree of security.
The Deep Security capabilities JOIN currently uses include IDS/IPS, virtual patching, and anti-malware functionalities. JOIN also takes advantage of host firewall on NSX.
“Security is a dealmaker for JOIN,” said Theobald. “Deep Security extends the benefits of NSX’ micro-segmentation with security policies and capabilities that automatically follow virtual machines no matter where they go. This provides JOIN the flexibility to run workloads with sensitive data next to workloads with non-sensitive information. This delivers an essential contribution to our added value as a highly reliable and affordable telco and hosting partner.”