Home North AmericaNorth America I 2014 Improve performance management while increasing network data

Improve performance management while increasing network data

by Administrator
Anand GonuguntlaIssue:North America I 2014
Article no.:11
Topic:Improve performance management while increasing network data
Author:Anand Gonuguntla
Organisation:Centina Systems
PDF size:616KB

About author

Anand Gonuguntla is President & CEO of Centina Systems. With over 15 years’ experience in the telecom industry, Anand co-founded Centina Systems. Prior to his current role, Anand was the Director of Systems and Software Engineering at Xtera. Anand also held management positions in software and program management at Fujitsu where he worked on FLM and Flashwave product lines.

Anand holds a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of North Dakota and a bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, India. He has published in Proceedings of ACM and holds a patent in network management.

Article abstract

Ultra-Broadband needs ultra-management tools that can cope with the volumes of data and can still provide timely performance reports. Customer experience is progressively dependent on network performance, as enterprises rely on cloud services and real-time applications. Advanced network performance systems analyze information in real-time and provide pre-emptive alarms when SLA thresholds are approached and before customers noticed a problem. They can also provide a visual presentation of customers’ own service performance, which customers can see through a portal, thus altering the perception of the service delivery level.

Full Article

Ultra-broadband – it is a term that’s been bandied about for a few years but only now the communications industry is finally starting to see its deployment. Operators are ramping up 100Gbp in the core of the network, on the access front, there’s LTE with 1Gbps broadband into the home, and enabling technologies, like carrier Ethernet, are on the rise.

Ultra-broadband supports the kinds of bandwidth-intensive and cloud-based services that businesses and consumers are looking for. However, as networks, services and technologies continue to evolve, operators face greater than ever challenges, when it comes to managing the customer experience via network performance management.

With the breadth of options and service provider competition, North American customers are some of the most demanding in the world, making customer experience more important than ever. Successful and differentiated network performance management is critical to ensuring customer experience. As networks and services continue to evolve and services migrate to cloud-based offerings, depending on both public and private infrastructure, network reliability will ultimately drive success and subscriber growth.

End user communications requirements escalate

Communications networks are increasingly the lifeblood of businesses in many ways, yet ironically, the rise of cloud services, true mobile broadband and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) means that businesses are increasingly free from traditional network borders. Companies today are looking to efficiently stay competitive and bolster innovation, as well as effectively accommodate the realities of the always on, always-mobile, borderless aspects of today’s work reality.

New applications are driving a multi-network landscape as well. According to TRAC Research’s 2013 Network Performance Monitoring report, unified communications applications are making a major impact on network quality and visibility, and many organizations reported that VoIP is the No. 1 IT initiative in terms of impact on network performance. In general, organizations said that these and other real-time applications are of greatest concern when it comes to network performance.

Customers expect a steady quality of network performance to support their strategic applications, no matter what the underlying technology may be – Service Level Agreements (SLAs) don’t become more flexible simply because a business has migrated from private line to Ethernet. Quite the opposite: TRAC’s report showed that 42% of organizations reported that improving the quality of user experience is one of their top strategic goals.

TRAC’s report shows that end users see the network as a strategic asset, with network performance having a major impact on all key business processes and on the effectiveness of business users. According to Forrester Research, a key factor impacting churn rates is how the customer perceives the quality of service delivery. Operators that can’t deliver the network quality needed to support business’ key strategic initiatives will risk losing subscribers, brand equity and revenue.

The rise of the Big Data challenge

There is, simply put, a data explosion at work. In an ultra-broadband world, the amount of data that devices generate about the health of the network and the performance of devices and services grows exponentially. The issue is not simply one of scale, but also complexity. Networks are increasingly dynamic and heterogeneous, with both legacy and IP components and a variety of access technologies. There are peak applications usage periods and multiple locations within a business to take into account. Yet operators need real-time visibility across the breadth of the network infrastructure, to ensure appropriate customer experience.

Many service providers are saddled with legacy performance management systems that are just not up-to-the-task of capturing, processing and analyzing this type of volume of information. Old approaches tend to be static. They are built for understanding siloed data sources from network elements that support hardwired services. Forrester noted that if individual components in the network layer are running effectively, an operator may believe that, say, an 80% level of QoS is being delivered to customers. However, the customer may feel that they are only getting 8% on the agreed upon QoS. Legacy approaches cannot resolve this discrepancy between perceived performance levels, leading to declining loyalty and loss of business.

A new dawn for performance management

In North America, poor customer experience and network performance can be the company’s demise, as negative reviews travel at the speed of light today. With unlocked mobile phones, no-contract, month-to-month services and race-to-zero-price competition, performance management can be the differentiator that allows service providers to maintain and justify margins and grow their subscriber base through guaranteed SLAs.

Fortunately, there is a whole new set of functionality for network and performance management systems. For one, operators can make use of solutions that allow them to quickly gather and process the data they need in near real-time. That includes systems that will proactively and automatically perform notifications and remediation of network issues to address problems before customers notice that there is a problem. This kind of proactive monitoring allows for early detection of problematic congestion and usage levels, as well as monitoring of the key performance indicators (KPIs) and their impact on the service availability for end users or wholesale customers. Progressive alarming offers operators a real-time view of network performance, as set thresholds of bandwidth usage are met.

The ‘root cause analysis’ remains one of the key challenges in managing network performance, with TRAC noting that 64% of organizations reported that their network landscape has become more complex over the last 12 months. Additionally, 46% of organizations reported that the inability to identify a root cause of performance issues in a timely manner is the key challenge for network performance. Next-gen network performance solutions offer the ability to isolate where in the network a problem may lie: at the customer premise, the access network, or in the core. This allows operators to offer better customer service overall.

Trending and capacity planning have also become critical to effective operations and performance management. Flexible, customizable reports that make use of real-time, holistic visibility across the network give operators the ability to apply network intelligence to any number of business processes, from the NOC (Network Operations Center) to the CFO’s office.

Being able to proactively manage SLAs, process and report on the volumes of data and network performance, and monitor real-time SLA conformance will become more important for service providers to differentiate their service offerings as time goes on. In an ideal implementation, a CSP (Communication Service Provider) has, through the implementation of service assurance, the proper visibility, alarming and reporting capability in place to efficiently offer SLAs in the first place, to drive increased market share while preserving revenue streams and profit margins.

Once customer SLA contracts are defined, the CSP should be able to track SLA parameters across systems and networks, and monitor the quality and availability of services. One way to do that is the automation of notifications of impending SLA threshold breaches. The progressive alarming allows CSPs to automatically determine where poor performance is impacting business as metrics approach SLA thresholds. That helps NOC personnel to better prioritize remedial actions and carry them out.

Next-gen network performance management offers the ability to visually map operational performance to customer services and clearly show the impact of network degradation and process faults on the agreed SLAs. This provides a barometric view into customer satisfaction levels. This visual GUI can be turned over to the enterprise IT personnel, so they can see through a portal how their services are performing. Using this kind of subscriber intelligence is the next frontier of ensuring the customer experience.

“We’ve long maintained that operators would begin taking a more strategic approach to their subscriber data as they looked to better manage the customer experience and generate more revenue per user,” said Shira Levine, Directing Analyst for service enablement and subscriber intelligence at Infonetics Research. “Subscriber intelligence solutions will grow in popularity because they enable operators to better pull together and analyze subscriber data, to gain a unified, holistic view of their customers and how they’re using the network.”

Rob Rich, managing director of TM Forum Insights Research, added: “With the explosion of digital services increasingly impacting the communication landscape, operators are taking a closer look at their subscriber data, to better understand their customers, upsell new services, combat churn and deliver a more relevant customer experience. The…use of subscriber data is gaining much-needed traction, and suppliers have a real opportunity to partner and develop analytics solutions to improve monetization and increase customer loyalty.”

Faced with an explosion in network capacity, applications and smart devices, service providers need highly scalable solutions that can integrate and capture all the necessary performance information, as well as process, analyze and present the data in a meaningful way to the NOCs and other stakeholders throughout the enterprise. By implementing a next-generation performance management solution, service providers can proactively assure the customer experience, compete more effectively and increase revenues.

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