Pipeline Publishing, Volume 5, Issue 5
This Month's Issue:
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Performance Management?
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Assuring Revenue Generating IP-based Services in 3G Networks

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You Can't Manage What You Can't See

Whether the subscriber is making a phone call, sending a text message, downloading music or a new ring-tone, subscribers have high expectations for the network's performance. Legacy management tools were designed to work at the physical network level, e.g. servers, routers, switches, circuits, or in some cases on signaling, and hence fail to detect problems presented by the modern IP-based services offered across complex 3G networks. More and more of the complicated problems affecting mobile operator networks will be associated with the health of the relationships between the networked elements throughout their global data centers.

Deep packet collection and inspection technology, with sub-second operation and analysis, is capable of distinguishing discrete services found in mobile operator networks, identifying micro-events as they emerge, and diagnosing their associated root causes. Only packet-flow technology, with its unique network vantage point, is capable of monitoring these complex interactions and resource contentions - being able to see all of the network loads and flows simultaneously in real-time. By inherently listening to all the conversations between the networked infrastructure elements, solutions employing packet-flow-based technology can detect and expose performance and relationship problems. A solution that leverages the packets in the network will provide the knowledge to identify, diagnose, and monitor service performance.

Another element of visibility that can't be ignored is the effect of volume on 3G networks. Because of the massive numbers of users and applications supported over these networks, the data transmission requirements, and hence, bandwidth utilization demands they put on performance management solutions, are immense. As a result, the ability to not only capture and inspect packets and flows is important, but the ability to do so at volume is imperative. Only a solution that provides the ability to capture at high rates of utilization and store multiple terabytes of packets will provide operators with the visibility they require.

Unified solutions that raise the bar in service assurance and performance management are a necessity. By combining extensive early-warning capabilities, real-time and historical application flow analysis, deep-packet forensics, scalability, and an understanding of IP services and content, operators have the tools essential to enable visibility into all the services transported in today's IP-based mobile operator network. This means ability to see revenue impacting services including

By inherently listening to all the conversations between the networked infrastructure elements, solutions employing packet-flow-based technology can detect and expose performance and relationship problems.


enabling services like Radius, Diameter, LDAP, and DNS as well as subscriber-facing services like WAP, MMS, and SMS. Visibility is that essential element to employ performance management as the solution to monitor its activity and troubleshoot degradations as they occur to avoid subscriber-affecting and revenue-impacting problems.

Value-added Benefits

In partnership with Ashton, Metzler and Associates, NetScout asked 138 network professionals how long it took to diagnose major network issues prior to deploying packet flow based solutions for performance, problem, and incident management and how long it took after deploying such solutions. The results definitively illustrated a 69% time savings improvement. They also revealed that the number of times problems were solved within the first 3-hours of detection went from about 30% before the solutions were introduced to over 70% after the solutions were in use!

One of the largest mobile operators in the Middle East faced a significant business challenge - a new competitor in a previously uncontested market was threatening to steal their subscribers with superior service claims. The operator realized that they had to improve service quality levels for subscribers, as well as accelerate their ability to identify, diagnose, and correct service-affecting performance issues. By implementing a packet-flow-based monitoring and analysis solution, the operator reduced troubleshooting time in their production network by 50%, improving customer experience. And it had the added benefit of improving employee productivity as well.

From ensuring a smooth transmission of a CNN newscast to simply making sure voicemail notifications are delivered quickly and web browsers connect reliably, the ability to see all subscriber services in real-time is an imperative in order to manage overall performance and customer experience. Major mobile operators worldwide are evolving the tools they will need to deploy to provide the real-time visibility, analysis, and management tools to ensure their mobile networks are living up to customers' "unlimited" 3G expectations.

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