OMREN Frequently Asked Questions





GENERAL QUESTIONS
OMREN Stands for Oman Research and Education Network. An Initiative by the Research Council with a mission to partner with Research & Education Sector through providing world class e-infrastructure to their practical needs and a vision to Enable innovation, research, education, strategic and International e- collaboration with the research and education community of the Sultanate of Oman.
الشبكة العمانية للبحث العلمي و التعليم هو مشروع وطني بمبادرة و إشراف من مجلس البحث العلمي لإقامة شراكة مع قطاع البحث و التعليم بإيجاد بنية أساسية الكترونية بمستويات عالمية تفي بإحتياجات القطاع لتفعيل الإبتكار و البحث العلمي و التعليم و التعاون العلمي مع المؤسسات الدولية و سيتم إدارة المشروع مستقبلا من قبل الأعضاء من الجامعات و الكليات و المراكز البحثية. كما سيتم حسب المخطط إنشاء لجنة توجيهية للمشروع ممثلة بأعلى المستويات من الأعضاء والجهات التشريعية والجهات المساندة مثل جامعة السلطان قابوس ووزارة التعليم العالي ووزارة القوى العاملة ومجلس البحث العلمي وممثل من اللجنة التنسيقية للجامعات و الكليات الخاصة وهيئة تنظيم الاتصالات و هيئة تقنية المعلومات و الشركة العمانية للنطاق العريض و الشركة المزودة لخدمة الربط عمانتل للسنوات الخمس الأولى. وستكون مهمة اللجنة رسم واعتماد السياسات التي تعمل عليها الشبكة وخططها المستقبلية والخدمات المقدمة منها والارتباطات الدولية وغيرها من المهام

ولكي نبدأ بتفعيل المشروع والذي بادرت عمانتل مشكورة بالاستثمار الكبير فيه ولضمان إستدامته إرتأينا أن يكون التوقيع على الربط الشبكي مبدئيا بين الكليات وعمانتل مباشرة مع الزام الشركة بالأسعار التفضيلية للتوصيل بالشبكة البحثية و توصيل خدمة الإنترنت كخدمة مضافة و في هذا فائدة كبيرة دون التطرق الى الفوائد من الخدمات الأخرى التابعة للمشروع. الجدير بالذكر أن الكثير من الخدمات تعتمد سرعة تفعيلها على جاهزية موقع الجامعة أو الكلية والذي سيتم تفصيله بزيارة الفنيين للموقع بعد توقيع العقود مع الكليات

OMREN network is provided through a partnership between TRC and Omantel the Oman's national operator. As part of its initiatives to promote scientific research in Oman, TRC signed a partnership agreement with Omantel to build, operate and maintain OMREN’s high performance and high availability network that connects research and education institutions in Oman to each other as well as connects them to the international research networks such as Internet2 and GEANT. A steering committee consisting of members such as SQU, MOHE, MOMP, a representative of private Universities and colleges, TRC, ITA, TRC, OBC and Omantel will be governing the project and provide the road map to its future direction.
MEMBERSHIP AND CONTRACTS
TRC decided to make this contract direct between OmanTel, OMREN partner, with the colleges and Universities to expedite the activation of the project. The project remains under the supervision of TRC for the period of 5 years. A steering committee is in the process of being formulated. All members will be represented in this committee in addition to ITA, TRA, OBC, TRC and OmanTel. The steering committee will set the policies, governance, International collaborations, provided services and future plans. A separate contract will be approved by this committee will then be signed by all members to form the consortium.
We offer a great, 70% rate for each seller, regardless of any restrictions, such as volume, date of entry, etc.
OMREN is like many other government initiative needs continues funding for sustainability. Hence members’ contributions are used for maintaining the network and the services and developing new ones. The current government and OmanTel invested are huge and requires long time to return with collective efforts from all members.
SERVICES
An ever-growing list of services will be maintained to meet OMREN vision and mission. At this initial stage of the project the following list of services will be provided:
  • A HIGH SPEED MPLS CONNECTION TO OMREN MANAGED NETWORK
  • OMREN connectivity infrastructure allows the implementation of dedicated end-to-end circuits. Members can exchange data with special features in terms of speed, capacity and confidentiality. These technologies can be used to facilitate the interconnection of entities spreads across the country. The capacity of the connection varies based on the subscribed access bandwidth. Currently we have two speeds 500 Mbps and 1000 Mbps. This reliable network will be the base for the research collaboration and education enrichment activities between the colleges, researchers, educators, students and external institutes. Current centrally provided applications such as Technical Colleges SIS application and Applied Science colleges applications are going to be pumped through this high speed network of minim 500 Mbps instead of the current 1 Mbps.
  • INTERNET LEASED LINE CONNECTION THROUGH OMREN PARTNER ISP
  • This is a commodity internet connection that allows OMREN members to connect to the general internet outside the private research and education network. OMREN negotiated special discounted rate to the members. The capacity of the connection varies based on the subscribed access bandwidth 75, 155 or 300 Mbps. Additional capacity can be purchased from the partner ISP or any other provider.
  • INTERNET CONNECTION TO THE INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM OF EDUCATION AND RESEARCH NETWORKS WORLDWIDE Internet2
  • OMREN members will be able to connect international gateway using 155 Mbps connectivity to Internet2 from OMREN data center in initial phase. OMREN will consider upgrading the bandwidth if required in the future. Internet2 provides its members access to an ever-growing catalog of cloud-based services designed or tailored specifically for the research and education community. These services are all delivered over the Internet2 high performance network and leverage the secure and privacy-preserving InCommon federated identity management services. The catalog of services consists of five general domains (“service types”): Software as a Service (SAAS), Security & Identity (SI), Infrastructure & Platform Services (IPS), Video, Voice, & Collaboration (VVC), Digital Content for Research and Education (DCRE). Details can be found at www.internet2.edu
  • A SERVICE LEVEL AGREEMENT WITH THE ISP FOR AVAILABILITY OF 99.5%
  • OMREN Members will enjoy a minimum acceptable Service level performance of 99.5% for a single access and 99.95% for redundant access, with a targeted performance of 100% for the reachability between Hub CPEs & each spoke CPEs separately.
  • SECURE AND RELIABLE DATA CENTER TO GUARANTEE YOUR BUSINESS CONTINUITY
  • OMREN Members will have the ability to benefit from a tier3 OMREN data center for collocation, disaster Recovery or even running critical applications utilizing the high speed point to point secure connectivity. This will contribute in a great cost saving on local data center, ICT support, AMC and ICT services operation. This service is provided at a discounted rate to the members.
  • HIGH DEFENITION VIDEO CONFERENCING SERVICES
  • OMREN in coordination with its partner ISP provides a Managed Video as a Service (MVaas) to all OMREN members. More features may be provided in future such as a multi-point high-definition videoconference service called OMREN Vconf. This will allow OMREN members to establish multiple video conferencing sessions with other authorized members or external entities.
  • EDUROAM
  • Eduroam is an international service that provides free and secure access to wireless networks to all teachers, students, researchers in Oman and worldwide. It allows OMREN members to have an Internet connection, wherever you are, using the same credentials used at home institution. This feature will allow researchers, faculty members and students to gain access to research networks and OMREN resources anywhere anytime for better collaboration to enrich research and education activities.
  • EDUGAIN
  • EduGAIN service interconnects identity federations around the world, simplifying access to content, services and resources for the global research and education community. eduGAIN enables the trustworthy exchange of information related to identity, authentication and authorization (AAI).
  • FEDERATED AUTHENTICATION (OMANKID)
  • This system allows you to login from your home organization (university, institute etc..) using the id and password you use there. Not only you can use TRC application using this id, you can also benefit from resources and applications provided by other Service Providers. Oman KID is an authentication system connecting local academic and research organizations. The system is using Shibboleth Framework, which has two major halves:
    • An identity provider (IdP)
    • A service provider (SP)
  • ACCESS TO RESEARCH MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEM (RMIS)
  • The Research Management Information System (RMIS) facilitates for researchers the opportunity to submit research proposals in areas allocated by TRC, with the ease of applying through online access and tracking the evaluation of the proposal. Researchers from OMREN members are privileged to use the RMIS platform.
  • RECOGNITION IN OMREN WEBSITE
  • All OMREN members will be recognized in OMREN website. This will enhance member’s website exposure and accessibility to other research and education community including the international NRENs. Researchers, faculty members and students from around the globe will become better acquainted with the member’s academics programs and activities after seeing its presence in OMREN website and network. In which we believe it will enhance the collaboration and share a collective goal of empowering education and research among the members.
  • ACCESS TO VIRTUAL SCIENCE LIBRARY
  • The Online Virtual Science Library is a national Library provides the academics and researchers with access to scientific resources and papers through OMREN Network. The library portal will ease the resources search process and unify the member’s collections to enhance collaboration and optimize resources utilization. The library will initially provide access to selected subscriptions to electronic journals, e-Books and Arabic publications subscriptions in addition to world class names such as Elsevier, Springer, Tylor & Francis and others. Access to this knowledge is considered vital for local research activities. Consequently, this contributes to raise the classifications of local universities in the world ranking which consider publication references to local outcomes a great deal. Additional specialized with publishers and will be charged.
  • ACCESS TO GRID COMPUTING & HIGH PERFORMANCE COMPUTING SERVICES
  • Local researchers can use highly sophisticated and too expensive equipment to buy such as HPC and Grid computing with reasonable rental charge. OMREN members can also benefit from the following services:
    • Technical support from ISP-NOC with coordination with OMREN team, along all the startup phase of the activation of the access circuit, as long as assistance in case of failure or malfunction of the access circuit;
    • Traffic statistic collection and publication on the OMREN Portal
    • Participation to technical workshops and to the annual OMREN Conference
    • participation to thematic meetings organized by OMREN for educational regarding networking, network security and applications such as Voice over IP, video streaming and others.
Yes, OMREN project team will provide you the required awareness and knowledge transfer sessions. Planned training schedule will also be shared with you. There will be four training sessions and train the trainers’ sessions. Training plans will also be discussed at the steering committee level to optimize the use of OMREN
All mentioned services will be available and no activation is required. Maybe a configuration at members’ site will be required for certain services as mentioned in the introduction OMREN vision is to partner with Research & Education Sector through providing world class e-infrastructure to their practical.
Above mentioned services will be provided through MPLS network. Some services can be also access through the ILL connectivity from out of members’ premises.
Through your collaboration with other universities and researchers and internet2 you will together build a large catalog of services scattered across the global. We encourage you to participate in providing such services and be active members who produce knowledge and innovation. You may visit internet2, GEANT, ASREN websites for more details.
Colleges may use OMREN datacenter for collocation, DR, BC and Backup for business continuity. So you may decide to run some of your computer labs remotely from OMREN datacenter using VDI and save on datacenter AMC and administration. This service is charged but you still can make savings by comparing AMC, manpower, Licensing, reliability, etc. OMREN cloud services is an applications stack where we host services and application as a unified repository to be accessed by all members. OMREN cloud is different from ITA cloud.
OMREN is intending to provide all mentioned service at no extra cost except where mentioned explicitly that this would be charged extra. The list of provided services will be signed in the membership document that will be approved by the steering committee but basically list all points in Q1 of the services FAQ.
We are working towards activating all listed services immediately after the activation of the MPLS network which should be ready within a month after the signature of the first 23 members. VSL, Internet2, Eduroam services are a mater of connection with service providers. Internet ILL, once the fiber calbles are installed at members site whe majority of members are ready, RIMS is ready and just requires configuration at OMREN DC. Others such as the national repository are pending committee policy formulation.
OMREN project offers much more services and benefits related to Research and Education. It also considered a great cost reduction to current subscribed connectivity. Savings can be used to buy extra non research related services.
OMREN project offers much more services and benefits related to Research and Education. It also considered a great cost reduction to current subscribed connectivity. Savings can be used to buy extra non research related services.
SIS was completely dropped from this phase due to short of funding. We are negotiating with SIS providers to form a partnership either with MOHE or TRC-OMREN. In any case that service will be optional and charged, yet it should be charged at a consortium discounted rate.
The main purpose of the OMREN project is to enrich the research and Education in Oman and provide you with valuable tools and resources as well as provide you with means to share your own resources between different institutes as well as benefiting from the international connections to get access to valuable resources. The current offered services in this phase and listed above in Q2. OMREN is a consortium consisting of you the universities, colleges and research institutes. It is not created as profit base body. To sustain the project and cover the investment made by the government and OmanTel subsidized contributions from the members were requested. This was calculated based on current Internet connection charges only but excess money is used for the additional provided services such as the MPLS connectivity, Internet2 and the Library resources. Hence whatever possible of additional services that are related to research and education and can be accommodated then you at the steering committee will decided on it. That may include renegotiating the fees after couple of years in order to increase the benefits rather than reducing the rates which are used to sustain the project as I said. SIS is not part of this offering and you will request to participate in the selection process along with the pricing, partnership, etc.
For some Universities where are currently enjoying a fiber connectivity from OmanTel then connection will be done immediately after the signature. Others, should take up to three months. Charges will only start after commence the ILL service. We were ready and waiting for your signatures.
For some Universities where are currently enjoying a fiber connectivity from OmanTel then connection will be done immediately after the signature. Others, should take up to three months. Charges will only start after commence the ILL service. We were ready and waiting for your signatures.
An evidenced based selection was made out a research to the most visited contents. As demand to bigger selection is increased and required budget is secured, more selection will be added to the list. An important part of the virtual science library project is the unified search engine using Ebsco EDS at OMREN portal. This allows members to have a unique search tool to harvest contents from different sources that include even members physical indexed contents if configured.
The below list of added values may also apply to all members:
  • High bandwidth & reliable MPLS NW instead of current 1 Mbps. Symphony Library system and Blackboard users will be much more satisfied. You can run your future SIS on OMREN too.
  • More collaboration between your colleges and sharing of learning resources.
  • International connection (ASREN, Internet2, GEANT)- check their service catalog.
  • Better exposure to international Research & Education community.
  • EduGAIN, EduRoam highly recognized internationally with great benefits to you
  • Video Conference tools for better collaboration and lecture broadcasting or meetings
  • Library Unified Portal with large content of cost over 3.5M$ annually
  • As a member you can be part of the future OMREN-CS solution, SIS
  • Availability assurance with OMREN written 99.5% SLA
  • Use of High Performance Computing through International link
  • Use of OMREN Data Center for Collocation, DR, Backup, etc.
  • A big plus to MOHE support for the higher education in Oman
  • You may notice that up to here and with all above added values we did not even mention the Internet line and cost saving in it. This is also included
    • Double Internet speed with reduced dependency.
    • Overall savings of up to 27% just comparing the internet line. With other services it is over 500%
NETWORK CONNECTIVITY
Yes, this will be handled by Omantel NOC team. As for the members they will be given an access to a portal to monitor their connectivity and report incidences. A dedicated support with escalation structure is provided in the contract.
A complete plan will be shared with you once signed. OmanTel is communicating with colleges for some technical details where Deans office support is requested here to provide information such as the krooki, existing setup, etc. New set of IP will be provided to each college where the college team need to do their configuration internally. Help can be provided from TRC and OmanTel if required.
Service is based on single access as per the contract signed with TRC. However redundant services can be provided on request with extra cost. Actually this is not required at this stage especially with SLA of 99.5% availability
Installation fees and devices cost is part of OmanTel investment. Devices will remain OmanTel property, members do not need to pay for this.
ILL service include 30 static IPs; domain name is not part of the service.
Yes, there is a portal site to monitor the domain Name and mapping your IPs
Yes, OmanTel will provide you access to a portal for monitoring the internet connectivity and utilization.
This was not considered to be part of the offering for the Research and Education Network at this stage. The Steering committee can discuss this and agree on terms to include it with required research & education justifications. For now members can subscribe to these services separately.
All colleges are going to be connected with fiber and this is Omantel’s plan from the beginning.
This is a standard compensation term in SLA. Next month bill should reflect this compensation.
No telephone connection as part of this research and Education Network offer. Annx2 is only identifying OmanTel as a company.
The SLA’s mentioned in the document cover the MPLS and the ILL with the same QoS measures.
This is managed service, Omantel is responsible to maintain its equipment. Clear contact point and escalation structure is provided
Yes, MPLS and ILL will be provided under the same SLA
No, Tools and services provided by OMREN can be used by members.
OMREN is a Research and Education Network and meant for enriching research in Oman. If any service can be justified to support this mission, then can be escalated to the steering committee where you are represented.
OmanTel is committed to connect all agreed members with a month after signing the contract. Members may optionally maintain the other connectivity from different providers. OmanTel will only invoice members after activating the fiber ILL line.
OMREN team worked hard with all ISPs in Oman and were able to drop the Internet Leased Line connectivity prices more than five times. This has already benefited education sector even who are not joining OMREN at this phase. The ISP was charging Education sector 19000 for 155 mbps ILL only. Now the MPLS of 500Mbps, ILL of 155 mpbs, Library subscriptions, Internet2, EduRoam, e-Library, etc for 7000 only. This alone is a great gain for the Higher Education institutes