A Requirements Checklist for the Next Generation Transport Network
By: Alison Izard, Marketing Manager, Cisco
In our recently published E-Book, A Roadmap for Transport Network Modernization, we use a step-by-step checklist to evaluate what should be considered before embarking on a network modernization project. Our checklist seeks to address a core set of modernization requirements all service providers share. If you haven’t already developed a list of your own or are in the process of developing an RFP, our checklist is an excellent starting point for assessing the fit and function of different transport modernization solutions.
Transitioning from TDM to IP
Before you begin you should consider how will you transition from an aging TDM infrastructure to a next generation carrier class solution. Many telecom providers still generate significant revenues from TDM-based services, as a significant percentage of their customer traffic flows through TDM interfaces. However, the goal of most network modernization projects is to transition to an all-packet network. So how do you find a balance? How can you continue to meet the needs of your TDM customers, while efficiently scaling to meet the growing volume of IP traffic? A prudent approach would be a hybrid network supporting TDM, Ethernet, and IP. Transitioning with this type of solution would support your business needs now and provide a solid foundation for your next-generation transport network when you are ready to go to a full IP network.
The Requirements Checklist
At a high level, our checklist addresses the effects of a new solution on an organization’s business model, future growth opportunities, OpEx and CapEx targets, and integration into existing operational models, which includes staffing, skill sets, and OSSs and business support systems (BSSs). This checklist is not comprehensive. There are other factors unique to each business that should be considered, they include: assessing the current state of your legacy technology infrastructure, the size of your business, your geographic location, customer demographics, and the competition in your market.
The list that follows is designed to help you examine both generic and unique requirements that you should consider as you evaluate transport network modernization solutions.
- Minimize effects on legacy infrastructure services. You depend on your current TDM revenue stream and a new modernization solution should not disrupt it. Therefore, you’ll want to clearly understand how the new solution would affect your legacy infrastructure services. Questions to ask:
- Can you still maintain existing service SLAs on a port-by-port basis?
- Can you continue to use existing customer premises equipment (CPE) rather than replace it?
- Launch new service offerings. One of the key benefits of modernizing your network is the ability to launch new service offerings, but it may not be a simple task. You’ll be replacing a significant amount of aging equipment with the latest technology. Questions to ask:
- How easily will the solution enable you to launch new IP and Carrier Ethernet services over a single converged packet optical transport network?
- Does it incorporate simplified workflows and operations-based tasks that align with existing user roles? Does it require new hires or employee skill sets are?
- Reduce OpEx requirements. A new transport modernization solution should save you money as today’s hardware is more compact, powerful, and energy efficient. You should also see a reduction in the cost per bit to deliver traffic through the integration of next-generation technology. Questions to ask:
- Does the solution replace gear that is expensive to maintain, like the aging DCS and ADM hardware?
- Can it reduce the cost to deliver a bit through the use of scalable and efficient technology such as DWDM and MPLS?
- Support Existing SLAs. To support your existing SLAs your new transport modernization solution needs meet industry standards and scale as more IP traffic is added to the mix. Questions to ask:
- Can the solution meet the industry standard 99.998 percent SLAs for uptime, and 50ms timing for voice?
- Does the solution use scalable technology such as DWDM to support an anticipated 50 percent annual bandwidth growth rate?
- Reduce CapEx while maintaining support for critical network management. A network modernization solution needs a management tool that is standards-based and seamlessly integrates into your existing OSS/BSS systems. You’ll also need comprehensive TDM and IP service lifecycle management, including fault detection, configuration, performance, and provisioning. Lastly, it needs to be easy to use. Questions to ask:
- Does it support business-critical operational features (for example, bit error rate testing (BERT) and loopback testing)?
- Does it integrate with existing OSS/BSS systems?
- Can it do comprehensive TDM and IP service lifecycle management, including fault, configuration, performance monitoring, and provisioning?
- Is it easy to use? Does it align with existing user roles so that no new hires or skill sets are required?
- Supports a simple, robust implementation. Your new transport network modernization solution needs to be easy to deploy, automated and the migration process needs to have minimal effects on end customers, existing services, and maintenance windows. Questions to ask:
- Can I replace aging hardware as needed or do a more comprehensive changeover?
- Can the solution be deployed and integrated with no effect on end customers or existing services?
If you are ready to modernize your network, find out how with A Roadmap for Transport Network Modernization. Download your copy today.
Alison is a marketing manager with the Service Provider Cloud, Infrastructure & Business Solutions team. Her area of expertise is network management software, where she has more than 16 years of experience working and consulting for companies including InfoVista, Qovia, Ipswitch, CITTIO and RiverMuse. Prior to joining Cisco, Alison had her own product/digital marketing agency, where she consulted with a broad range of B2B and B2C clients. Although the core of her professional experience is in product/digital marketing, she’s also worked in product management, technical training and instructional systems design.