Going all-IP for converged network monitoring

Jessica Scarpati
12 Jul 2010
Moving beyond element management
As service providers focus more on enhancing the subscriber experience, they will benefit from more intelligent and tightly integrated telecom network monitoring systems that can tell them more than whether or not a router has failed, according to John Mazur, principal analyst at Ovum.
"Traditionally, you just did management with element management systems. You looked at every network element and drew maps between the elements so you could monitor when there were outages or changes in traffic patterns, and that was great then," Mazur said. "But [telecom network monitoring needs to be] moving beyond that. They're not just going to look at the network and the traffic, they're going to look at the subscribers."
Industry observers believed theIP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) standard would solve all this by building more intelligence into IP networks, Mazur said, but whatever early traction it gained has fizzled.
As a result, solutions are coming from every angle -- operational support system (OSS) and business support system (BSS) vendors, quality assurance vendors, traditional network monitoring vendors and the network equipment vendors themselves.
Ultimately, service provides may turn to cloud-based solutions to give them the telecom network monitoring capabilities they need with quad-play services, Mazur said.
"They're going to employ cloud technology or virtualized servers in their own networks … [so] instead of having lots of vendors' proprietary solutions, they can just drop in applications to control their network infrastructure [from a private cloud]."
Using proprietary management systems of network hardware vendors to monitor performance and quality assurance of quad-play services -- voice, data, video and wireless -- will make sense only where it's not worth the risk of disrupting services to remove them, according to Michael Howard, co-founder and principal analyst at Infonetics Research.
"If you're an operator delivering IPTV, you want to make sure that your picture delivery is as good as the cable company that's not delivering it on an IP network," Howard said. "It's important for the operator to monitor that traffic and make sure that their broadband network is delivering [services] in the same way as the primary competitors."
But using a more unified approach to telecom network monitoring tools is not without risk. Large carriers have built out their networks over decades, and they have often expanded them through mergers and acquisitions, resulting in heterogeneous telecom network infrastructure and management software. Replacing legacy telecom network monitoring systems can become like the game Jenga -- remove the wrong piece and everything topples, Howard said.


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