Company: OSICustomer: SwisscomSubmitted by: Mmd Marketing Communications LimitedToday’s deregulated European telecoms environment means incumbent operators are continuously battling with a host of new entrants to retain and grow their share of the market. This challenge is made greater by the fact that most traditional operators rely on a variety of legacy systems developed or acquired over a number of years, while newer operators have the luxury of adopting the latest network technologies that maximise efficiency and assure quality of service.While many incumbents continue to rest on their laurels, Swisscom, Switzerland’s leading telecommunications group, is focused on keeping up with – and surpassing – its newer rivals. Swisscom has a clearly-defined strategy aimed at both retaining market leadership in Switzerland and achieving substantial growth abroad. In particular, the company is focusing on growth businesses such as mobile communications, Internet and e-business and marketing its network services (wholesale) to retailers.
To address this, Swisscom decided to implement a service assurance systems, with particular focus on its data service customers.
Staying ahead of the competition through quality of service
Swisscom has net revenues of approximately CHF 11.2 billion and around 22,000 employees. The company provides 3.
6 million analogue fixed-line network accesses and over 1.3 million ISDN access channels. In 1999, the number of Swisscom mobile customers increased by 36 per cent to 2.3 million, and the company predicts that one in three residents in Switzerland will soon be using its Natel network.From leased lines to integrated solutions for corporate customers, Swisscom offers a complete spectrum of data services.
The company also operates the biggest online portal for residential customers of Blue Window, Switzerland’s leading Internet provider. The acquisition in 1999 of debitel, Germany’s third-biggest mobile operator and the biggest network-independent operator in Europe, doubled Swisscom’s customer base to around 10m and increased group revenues considerably.In order to beat the competition in the provision of high-level corporate Internet services, Swisscom recognised the need to introduce a service assurance solution that could rapidly assess the impact of any network changes or faults. This would enable quick rectification of problems and thus maintain the level of service offered to customers. Since the Swisscom network incorporates more than 6000 routers, any service assurance system needed to be completely scaleable in order to be considered.The chosen system would be used specifically to support Swisscom’s LAN Interconnect Service, which it provides to over 300 business customers across Switzerland.
This service enables companies to merge all local networks into a single, company-wide communications infrastructure, allowing employees to access databases, email and other integrated applications from a shared database, regardless of their location. All aspects of the LAN Interconnect Service are provided by Swisscom over the company’s own transport networks, including monitoring, operation and maintenance.Erich Kipfer, project manager at Swisscom, said, “We all know that we are in a highly competitive market, and that speed to market is essential if we are to differentiate ourselves. With the diverse technologies that are used in our data network, we needed a solution that could work across them all, while providing one clear set of data about faults or changes and mapping this to customer information.”
Flexibility and scaleability
With these considerations in mind, Swisscom selected OSI to deploy its NETeXPERT service assurance software solution, which is based on OSI’s Unified Management Architecture. Explaining the decision, Kipfer said, “We selected OSI because of its ability to deploy its systems quickly, allowing us to meet our aggressive speed to market and service quality goals.
The NETeXPERT solution provides us with a fully scaleable architecture that performs real-time IP management across multiple technologies. It has allowed us to consolidate fault management across frame relay, ATM, IP and X.25 technologies from different vendors, and then correlate the information it provides with our service and customer information.”Specifically, Swisscom cites a key benefit of the NETeXPERT solutions as its ability to build customer views, providing a profile of the impact network outages have on customers, and then defining specific actions to rectify those outages depending on the state of the network. This means that NETeXPERT is the only system of its kind that can implement state management, allowing service providers to set up different states based on alarms or performance information received by the system.Kipfer continued: “Ultimately, it is how quickly we react to problems that will differentiate us from our competitors.
If we know which customers are affected by changes that occur in the network, we can take steps to reduce the impact of any network changes that occur.”Implementation of the NETeXPERT system has been carried out in two phases. Phase one involved interfacing the system with Swisscom’s network, which is based on a backbone ATM network using Nortel’s Passport and DPN technologies alongside Cisco and Stratacom network equipment. Around this backbone network, Swisscom operates a Cisco-powered IP network to provides the LAN Interconnect Services, and the NETeXPERT configuration was distributed through 18 gateways on this network. In this first phase of implementation, OSI and Swisscom also created the interface with the network management alarms, which would provide the necessary network fault information.
In the second phase, the phase one interfaces were linked with an internal system, known as TIS (Technical Information System), which stores all the service and customer relationship information related to the circuits used by different customers. If a network element fault is detected by NETeXPERT, it is associated with circuit information in the TIS and then with a customer name, allowing Swisscom to assess which customers are affected. This enables Swisscom to create a Service Level Agreement (SLA) function, where the system is integrated with a trouble-ticket system, so that each customer ‘alarm’ can automatically generate a notice that will start the escalation process, ensuring quick resolution of the problem.
Future-proof service assurance strategy
The fully-implemented solution, known as TopM, allows Swisscom to monitor the network uptime and downtime experienced by Swisscom customers, thus enabling it to create SLAs for each customer based on real network data.SLAs can be based on both fault management and performance management criteria, enabling Swisscom to define service availability and service quality.
In addition, the TopM system ensures that Swisscom can control costs through more efficient network planning and resource allocation. To simplify use of the system, TopM also provides drill-down navigation maps from customer views to services views and network views, through a series of mouse clicks.”Our business customers want a high quality, global service that they can rely on at all times, and that they can obtain from a single source,” said Kipfer. “The fact that OSI’s systems are built on its Unified Management Architecture is a compelling argument, as it provides the necessary open-systems framework that has the capability to expand as we continue to grow to our network.”Moreover, we have clear goals for staying one step ahead of the game. With OSI’s NETeXPERT we now have the systems in place that will help us to achieve this.”
Challenge Solution BenefitsAchieve service assurance for business data network customers OSI’s NETeXPERT solution:
- flexible and scaleable
- real-time management of IP network
- monitor network uptime and downtime to limit impact on customers
- correlate fault management with customer information Swisscom
- Provide superior quality of service to customers
- Meet and exceed SLA criteria
- Control costs through better network planning