Equant Goes Global
A world-class system for multinational IP and data support.
|Product Information |
|eHealth Suite |
Concord Communications Inc.
Equant has over 26,000 routers and 2,100 points of presence in 224 countries. But the multinational IP and data support company needed a world-class system to manage its network.
It takes a world-class system to manage—and report—a network of 250,000 distinct elements. Equant didn't have one.
Equant has grown its advanced data services business fast, to $2.76 billion in 2000, with a rapidly advancing zone of responsibility that now encompasses 26,000 routers and more than 2,100 points of presence in 224 countries and 1,100 cities. But support problems grew right along with the business.
The company, which specializes in providing multinational companies with IP and data services, has an illustrious client list that includes Dupont, P&L Nedlloyd, Toshiba, McCormick and nearly two-thirds of the world's top 100 companies. But Equant's previous infrastructure management system didn't scale well over such a huge network.
"Our biggest challenges were providing customers with the visibility they demanded, as well as being able to view every part of our own network and detect problems before they affected availability," says Jose Alexandre Gouveau, Equant's Paris-based vice president for network services and security management.
Satisfying customers' reporting demands, too, proved difficult. Each report involved detailed manual work by IT staff to provide the specifics required. The lack of a single reporting process made it difficult to keep up with customer requests for information. As a result, only select clients could be offered the highest levels of reporting.
"Manual processes meant that it took 10 to 15 days from the date of data collection for a report to be validated and converted to the right template for delivery to the customer," says Gouveau. "Only15 percent of our customers received comprehensive reports."
|Details: Equant's Reporting System |
Business: Part of the France Telecom Group, this $2.76 billion company supplies IP VPN, IP Dial, VoIP, frame relay, asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) and security services to the Global 1000
Team Leader: Jose Alexandre Gouveau, VP for network services and security management
Team Members: Equant, Sun Microsystems, Concord Communications Inc.
Web site: www.equant.com
Goal: Scale management and reporting processes across a massive, growing data network.
- Ability to poll up to 50,000 routers
- Three-month deployment time across entire network
- Requires minimal investment in new servers
Scope: Huge. Equant's extensive data network currently encompasses:
- 26,000 routers
- 2,100 points of presence in 224 countries, 1,100 cities
- 3,700 enterprises
- 250,000 network elements
- 18 Network Operations Centers (NOCs) around the world
- ADC Metrica
- Trinagy Inc. DeskTalk
- Concord Communications Inc. eHealth
- InfoVista S.A. InfoVista
- Nortel Preside
- ViewGate Inteligo
Solution: eHealth v.5.01, deployed across 20 Sun E 450 and two Sun Fire 280 servers. eHealth's small administrative footprint allowed Concord to complete deployment within the required three months.
Results: Validated report generation now takes two to three days instead of 15.
Concord's eHealth Suite consists of the following elements:
- Live Health—Real-time performance and availability management for rapid problem diagnosis
- Network Health—Performance data on LAN/WAN, Router/Switch, Frame Relay, ATM and Remote Access
- AdvantEDGE View—Instantaneous, real-time content that identifies overloaded systems
- eHealth Response—The gateway that enables the collection of response time data from a variety of sources for real-time analysis, historical reporting, and service level documentation
- Service Level Reports—SLM reporting application for executive, IT management and customer audiences. Reports are available for capacity planning, fault detection and service level documentation.
Expanding the old management system was out; its lack of scalability translated into a hefty price tag for additional software and hardware. And most of the new systems Gouveau investigated couldn't meet at least one of two absolute requirements: The ability to poll up to 50,000 routers and a deployment time of three months across the entire Equant network. And these products also required a substantial investment in new servers.
Equant opted for eHealth, a suite of management applications from Concord Communications Inc. (based in Marlboro, Mass.). It combines real-time information with historical context for integrated management across systems, applications and networks.
"As eHealth is an off-the-shelf product suite, it could be installed worldwide within 90 days," says Gouveau. "It also needed only one-third of the servers of competing systems." eHealth's small administrative footprint allowed Concord to deploy the suite on 22 Sun servers in three months.
"Time was critical," says Jack Norris, head of customer service and network for Equant. "We couldn't wait through a lengthy and cumbersome deployment while trying to service our customers. It had to happen quickly and globally without any lapse in service."
Gouveau believes that to become truly proactive, you need top-notch performance reporting. eHealth gave network administrators access to key reports for use in capacity planning and network design and offered clients more valuable and timely reports.
The new system's automatic reporting features mean that monthly performance reports reach clients two to three days into the new month.
"The software collects the numbers and automatically shapes it to whatever report format is called for," explains Gouveau. Instead of many hours pouring over customer numbers each month to calculate the amount of availability of the network, we know the exact figure right away."
eHealth also provides data to supervision personnel via pollers and alarms set to pre-determined thresholds. When operators receive an alarm, they can view real-time and historical data simultaneously to determine if it's a one-off situation or a developing trend.
"As the project required very little customization, Concord came in and configured it for us rapidly," explains Gouveau. "Its low-level customization makes it very easy to manage and support compared to other systems we've used in the past."
On the training side, staff needed an average of four days each to learn the tools and to be able to use them competently. After Concord trained the first batch of IT personnel, they in turn trained others within Equant. In addition to this classroom training, a small amount of computer-based training (CBT) also was done.
So far, the results have been impressive. "One unified system can now manage a vast array of resources around the world," says Gouveau. "It's very easy to access historical data and extract whatever information we need to resolve issues and maintain availability at a very high level. The versatility of the types of reports available makes it simple to give customers the reports they demand in whatever templates they desire."