April 1, 2015

“The third network is agile, assured and software-based”, Nan Chen, president of the Metro Ethernet Forum, said at the GEN14 conference in Washington in November 2014. This was the main focus for the conference, bringing together more than one thousand experts and business leaders for a three day long gathering.

The term “third network”, refers to taking the best parts of carrier Ethernet 2.0 (service assurance, user control, quality, security) and cloud services (dynamic, agile, on-demand).

The vision is to be able to set up quality assured Ethernet services in a matter of seconds or minutes,across multiple network domains, instead of weeks or months as the reality is today.

A chasm between fulfilment and assurance

Service fulfillment of today is broken. As one service provider employee working at a delivery team pointed out a few weeks ago: “We configure the network, and then we cross our fingers as if we knew the service is up and running - but we really don't”.

Today there is a chasm between configuring the service, and making sure that it works for the end-user, end-to-end. The problem is even bigger when services are delivered “off-net”. To be able to deliver assured services across multiple network domains, next level of collaboration is necessary.

Netrounds introduces support for collaboration

In a study by Forbes, in collaboration with Cisco, they concluded:

“The ability to collaborate—across functional boundaries, time zones or even beyond organizational borders—is becoming an ever more critical determinant of success” and also,

“When it comes to the strategy and practice of collaboration, nothing can compete with next-generation cloud-delivered tools and processes.”

You can read the entire report here: http://images.forbes.com/forbesinsights/StudyPDFs/cisco-cloud-report.pdf

Netrounds is now a complete solution with features for controlled collaboration between different organizations within your own company (for example between R&D and service assurance teams), as well as between yourself and your partners (buyers, sellers), and your customers:

  1. Share active measurement probes so that you can use someone else’s probes for a limited time or during a project where active testing or monitoring is needed, or the other way around.
  2. Share results from activation tests, troubleshooting tests, and network and user experience monitoring. Collaborate using the same data saves lots of time, especially when finger pointing is involved.
  3. Share automated test templates, so that your colleagues, customers, partners or vendors can test the same way you do.

Below, the three different ways of collaboration are described in more detail.

Use case and benefits: Sharing of measurement probes

Consider the following example. A service provider (SP) need to purchase an off-net access to reach all the way to the customer in a point-to-point connection. A service turn-up test protocol is required to assure the service.

In this scenario, the off-net (wholesale) provider can share his measurement probe to the SP, so that the SP can assure the service end-to-end.

Today this brings huge benefits, since the SP does not need to send one of his own physical test instruments to the off-net provider, a process that typically takes several weeks in itself. In the future, with NFV and software-defined environments, a virtual probe will most likely be deployed in the customer placed equipment, that can then be shared to the SP = no truck-rolls.

With this collaborative feature, the services can be assured end-to-end, even when the service is carried over several network domains.

Use case and benefits: Sharing of test results and live monitoring views

Consider three examples where this feature brings benefits.

  1. In the above mentioned example, the SP can also share the result from the service activation test, to the off-net provider, and the off-net provider can also share the results from a test within his own network domain. This simplifies troubleshooting, and avoids misunderstandings.
  2. In an IPTV delivery chain, many parties are often involved. The provider of the IPTV stream is typically responsible for delivering the IPTV stream to the access network provider, that delivers the stream the last mile to the customer. In this situation, it is of mutual benefits if a measurement is made at the demarcation point between the parties, to quickly understand where a problem occurs. Here it is perfect if the measurement being made at this demarcation point can be shared among the parties to avoid that two measurement probes are deployed (one from the IPTV provider and one by the access provider). Seeing the same picture is vital to be able to quickly solve the problem.
  3. For premium business service deliveries, sharing of SLA/SLS monitoring data gathered from Y.1731 or TWAMP sessions enables new business opportunities as the SP can sell this as an Value Added Service.

Use case and benefits: Sharing of test templates

A test template in Netrounds, is a pre-built automated test suite. The benefit of being able to share such a test suite is that both parties in a collaboration are using the same tests and use the same input and conditions.

  1. One use case is that a service provider, who automates testing of lab equipment, can share his test templates to their network equipment vendors. In this way, the vendors can test the same way as the service provider, to make sure that unnecessary ping-pong of problems between the SP and the vendor is not happening, shortening the time of the quality assurance with weeks and months in many cases.
  2. Another use case is that the R&D teams can share test templates to the service assurance teams working in the field with complex problems, and the other way around. This to make sure that the two teams are testing the same way. Testing in different ways are a common reason for time consuming discussions.

These are only a few of the examples and benefits of how you use the collaborative approach now made available through Netrounds to shorten the time to revenue, and increase customer satisfaction. It may seem trivial, but the impact will be huge. The report by Forbes referenced earlier provides some exciting figures to support this fact.

“Business initiatives are implemented faster when the business is infused with cloud-based collaborative agility. So much so that nearly two out of three executives, 64%, say that cloud-based collaboration tools accelerate business results

“Fifty-nine percent of executives—93% of “leaders”—believe cloud-based collaboration stimulates innovation.

“A cloud-based approach to collaboration helps companies accelerate business results, improve business processes and stimulate innovation.”

In the extremely competitive market that telecom providers are facing, more efficient collaboration is the key to stand out. Are you a leader or laggard?