Network Resource Management

The ability of a business to provide services requires deploying its resources to meet a need. Network service providers manage incredibly complex systems and resources in order to provide service to their end users. Providing a single POTs line may require the interaction of a TDM voice trunk, last mile copper, voice switch, and distribution frame, all of which are examples of physical inside and outside plant elements. These are then overlaid with the logical circuits which rest upon them.

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For most providers, managing these resources is a largely manual process. A service qualification for a business may generate an email to a Sales Engineer to ask that they review the current availability and capacities of a multitude of equipment and circuits in order to determine whether a service may be sold. The equipment required to provide service may have separate interfaces for provisioning, requiring an engineer work with each separately. For many companies, the relationship between these systems is a highly trained, experienced staff member using knowledge that they alone may have. At best, this may lead to duplication of effort and data, but too commonly this leads to inconsistencies, delays, and even missed expectations and due dates.

With Vision, we reduce the reliance on the knowledge of specific employees, and narrow the gap between requirement and result, by placing the management of Physical and Logical Resources, as well as business rules and automation, in a single unified system.

The foundation of Vision is geospatial location (see graphic). Upon location, we layer Resources which we define broadly as People (Leads, Subscribers, Technicians, etc.) and Assets. Of Assets, the most critical to any Service providers are its Network Resources, which we divide into Physical and Logical Layers.

To the Physical we assign assets that take up Physical space. These include cable, hardware, splice closures, or anything you can touch, upon which your network relies. Even though you cannot touch wireless spectrum, it is also part of this physical layer as it is the “connection” between a transmitter and receiver. These physical elements have relationships and connections to one another, which make up Master Circuits. Two fiber optic cables, for example, may connect to one another via fusion splice within splice closure. An ethernet switch may have connections to Category 6 cabling via RJ-45 ports.

To the Logical layer, we assign circuits. Services provided to subscribers ride on these circuits. Circuits are further categorized as Middle Mile and Last Mile. Last Mile circuits connect premises with their distribution point, while Middle Mile circuits are those to which many Last Mile circuits may be assigned to obtain their service. The connection from a DSLAM to an ADSL modem is an example of a Last Mile circuit, while the SONET ring on which the DSLAM sits is an example of a Middle Mile circuit.

This loosely approximates the standard Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model, but with some specific differences as it is modeling not only hardware and software but also business practices. The Location layer is the basis of all of the information in this system. In essence, it is a subset of layer 1 but completely abstracted from the other physical layer components. This not only allows, but requires, that all other physical layer objects include a location. Logical circuits then also have a location since they are built upon the physical layers. Finally, even services have a location since they are built over the logical circuits. This arrangement of items through space provides a flexible foundation upon which a service provider can build a more efficient, more resilient and profitable network. The examples which follow, common to any service provider, illustrate the value of the Vision Network Resource Management platform.

New Service Inquiry
A service qualification request to an agent triggers the Service Order Workflow. One of the first tasks generated is to evaluate the location for the existence of a service already in place. Vision recognizes that the location already exists, and services had previously been delivered at that Location. Because Physical Resources always tie to Locations, we know that unless these facilities are currently in use, or rendered otherwise inoperable, that they may be used for new service. More importantly, Vision knows this, so the task need not be completed by a person, and the Workflow adjusts accordingly. If all customer premise equipment is presently on site, the subscriber may be setup without a truck roll, leading to a much shorter installation window and lower total cost of the customer acquisition.
Equipment Failure
A Calix E7-2 OLT has been setup in Vision for monitoring, and on Monday morning, an alarm on an 8 Port OLT card indicates a GPON SFP cannot be reached. Vision is aware of all circuits presently provisioned on the SFP and, as a result of this, any customers which will be affected by this outage. A hardware failure network event is created by Vision. That event triggers a series of tasks, including notifying NOC personnel for troubleshooting, creating customer notification tickets (Created by system), and, if necessary, a replacement hardware procurement task. Further, Vision is aware of the current location of all physical inventory and will produce the location of replacement SFPs in stock. The time between the beginning of the outage and the end of the outage is predictable and made much shorter by the information kept centralized and structured within Vision.
Where to Invest
As an Internet Service Provider, you have a large base of existing subscribers, with the proportion of subscribers of one type climbing, while those of another type are declining at a predictable rate. The question arises, where should you invest in growing your network? Vision can help you find an answer. Vision is aware of the location of both your physical and logical circuits. Knowing both, we can show you where you have existing unused capacity on logical circuits (i.e. Bandwidth or Channels) or physical circuits (i.e. Fiber strands, Spectrum, or Copper pairs).
Once we’ve shown you the capacity of your resources, a manager may define a Service Area within which they may analyze, using reports crafted within Vision, the current Take Rate, break down of services provided, Average Revenue per User, Account Age, as well as any known recurring costs associated with the area (i.e. Leased copper or backhaul services). With this analysis known and attached to an area, management may have sufficient knowledge with which to decide if an area is ready to be built. It is also possible, that they may need more information to make that decision. Specifically, might greater interest in a service in one area vs. that in another impact your decision to build a specific market?
With Vision Offers, not only can you define offered service packages, but also service packages in which prospective customers may have interest. The Manager can now assign an Interest Package to the Service Area previously created for Cost and Revenue analysis. Now, when a service inquiry is made to a sales representative, the representative can indicate this interest, as well as their purchase of other packages concurrently. If a customer purchases wireless service, but ultimately wishes to purchase a fiber-based product, the sales representative may indicate both. A manager evaluating areas for future expansion through the Vision Offers system, will see not only the current costs and revenue of a prospective service area, but also the revenue based on the interest garnered around a given service offering that is not yet deployed.