When Swedish communications services provider TDC needed network infrastructure improvements from their disparate networks across several Nordic countries, they needed both simplicity in execution and agility in performance.
Our next innovation case study interview therefore highlights how TDC found ways to better determine root causes to any network disruption, and conduct deep inspection of the traffic to best manage their service-level agreements (SLAs).
BriefingsDirect had an opportunity to learn first-hand how over 50,000 devices can be monitored and managed across a state-of-the-art network when we interviewed Lars Niklasson, the Senior Consultant at TDC. The discussion, at the HP Discover conference in Barcelona, is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.
Here are some excerpts:
Gardner: You have a number of main businesses in your organization. There’s TDC Solutions and mobile. There’s even television and some other hosting. Explain for us how large your organization is.
Niklasson: TDC is an operator in the Nordic region, where we have a network covering Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark. In Sweden, we’re also an integrator and have a quite big consultant role in Sweden. In Sweden we’re around 800 people, and the whole TDC group is almost 10,000 people.
Gardner: So it’s obviously a very significant network to support this business and deliver the telecommunication services. Maybe you could define your network for us.
Niklasson: It's quite big, over 50,000 devices, and everything is monitored of course. It’s a state-of-the-art network.
Gardner: When you have so many devices to track, so many types of layers of activity and levels of network operations, how do you approach keeping track of that and making sure that you’re not only performing well, but performing efficiently?
Niklasson: Many years ago, we implemented HP Network Node Manager (NNM) and we have several network operating centers in all countries using NNM. When HP released different smart plug-ins, we started to implement those too for the different areas that they support, such as quality assurance, traffic, and so on.
Gardner: So you’ve been using HP for your network management and HP Network Management Center for some time, and it has of course evolved over the years. What are some of the chief attributes that you like or requirements that you have for network operations, and why has the HP product been so strong for you?
Niklasson: One thing is that it has to be quick and easy to manage. We have lots of changes all the time, especially in Sweden, when a customer comes. And in Sweden, we’re monitoring end customers’ networks.
It's also very important to be able to integrate it with the other systems that we have. So we can, for example, tell which service-level agreement (SLA) a particular device has and things like that. NNM makes this quite efficient.
Gardner: One of the things that I’ve heard people struggle with is the amount of data that’s generated from networks that then they need to be able to sift through and discover anomalies. Is there something about visualization or other ways of digesting so much data that appeals to you?
Niklasson: NNM is quite good at finding the root cause. You don’t get very many incidents when something happens. If I look back at other products and older versions, there were lots and lots of incidents and alarms. Now, I find it quite easy to manage and configure NNM so it's monitoring the correct things and listening to the correct traps and so on.
Gardner: TDC uses network management capabilities and also sells it. They also provide it with their telecom services. How have you experienced the use in the field? Do any of your customers also manage their own networks and how has this been for your consumers of network services?
Niklasson: We’re also an HP partner in selling NNM to end customers. Part of my work is helping customers implement this in their own environment. Sometimes a customer doesn’t want to do that. They buy the service from us, and we monitor the network. It’s for different reasons. One could be security, and they don’t allow us to access the network remotely. They prefer to have it in-house, and I help them with these projects.
Gardner: Lars, looking to the future, are there any particular types of technology improvements that you would like to see or have you heard about some of the roadmaps that HP has for the whole Network Management Center Suite? What interests you in terms of what's next?
Niklasson: I would say two things. One is the application visibility in the network, where we can have some of that with traffic that’s cleaner, but it's still NetFlow-based. So I’m interested in seeing more deep inspection of the traffic and also more virtualization of the virtual environments that we have.