Why Maintaining QoS Within Enterprise Networks Requires Another Kind of IP


By: Jeff Hannah
7 Feb. 2018

Why Maintaining QoS Within Enterprise Networks Requires Another Kind of IP

As enterprises have transitioned to completely IP-based communications systems, they now view data connectivity as a key strategic element. And with that comes a focus on ensuring that data connectivity is maintained and meets the expectation of the enterprise. It’s no surprise that their business operations can be negatively impacted when data connectivity and services do not meet the required performance levels.  In fact, SLAs are implemented to ensure that communication service providers (CSPs) meet expectations. As CSPs transition towards the deployment of more dynamic customer-first networks, the need for network and service performance assurance is paramount.  These systems enable the CSP to have continuous visibility of service performance and this helps to ensure that the enterprise’ expectations are met.

Today, almost every essential business technology within an enterprise relies on IP-based communications networks, from desktop phone terminals to employees’ access to web-based business applications. Connectivity now drives the enterprise and without it day-to-day business operations can come to a halt. This reality has created a huge strain on enterprise IT staff and budgets. Shifting the burden of responsibility, enterprises now see CSPs as more than just a connectivity provider, but as a strategic resource responsible for monitoring and maintaining their network connections. Leveraging SLAs with CSPs to codifying this shift in responsibility, CSPs, not IT departments, have become responsible for monitoring and maintaining enterprise network connections, often requiring that services provided adhere to strict levels of quality of service (QoS). But for CSPs, this shift in responsibility presents new challenges.

For CSPs to maintain their SLAs with enterprise subscribers a more proactive approach to service assurance is needed. With SLAs in place, CSPs can no longer wait for a service call, they must now be the service call. But unlike enterprise IT staff, CSP’s network engineers are not located on-site within the enterprise. In order identify, and ideally prevent, a disruption or degradation in services, they must secure visibility into their subscribers’ network performance from within each subscriber’s premise.  

By placing intelligence at the network edge, either via dedicated hardware or via virtualized premise equipment (vPE) located within an enterprise subscribers’ facilities, CSPs are able to remotely secure much-needed visibility into the performance of enterprise subscribers’ networks and their subscribers’ network experience. This in turn provides CSPs with the means to pro-actively monitor and maintain the QoS of their enterprise subscribers’ connections.  While simple in concept, CSPs have long sought a way to economically secure a more internal perspective of network performance. 

However, as CSPs continue to deploy new services via the virtualization of their networks, once siloed and dedicated customer premise equipment is now being decoupled, providing a unique opportunity for them to insert virtualized service assurance verifying elements across an enterprise subscriber’s network. By deploying verifiers to execute network tests, run diagnostics, and aggregate results from across an enterprise subscriber’s network, CSPs are able to obtain the needed internal perspective from within their enterprise subscribers networks, ensuring that pre-defined agreements on QoS are being met.

“The transition towards Software Defined Networking (SDN), Virtual CPE (vCPE) and cloud-native services is well underway. Operators are looking for new ways to deliver revenue-generating services while lowering deployment and operating costs, and the combination of one or more these technologies will be fundamental for success in business connectivity market. However, regardless of the technology, the end result must be the same: meeting or exceeding the subscriber’s expected quality of service and experience”, said Thierno Diallo, Senior Product Manager, for EXFO’s Service Assurance Business Unit.  “EXFO’s approach to performance assurance enables operators to gain this valuable visibility, by employing a combination of software and VNF-based active test probes and a scalable management solution which assures service delivery, which helps operators move from a reactive approach to failure to a more proactive approach. The EX1 Verifier is a stepping stone in this strategy, giving operators who are customer-first the ability to view delivered performance directly from the subscribers’ premise.”

Beyond the benefits to enterprise subscribers, the pro-active monitoring and maintenance of enterprise networks can also reduce ISPs’ operational costs.  EXFO’s EX 1, EXFO Worx and EXFO Virtual Agent provide CSPs with the ability to run over 150 tests, all of which support CSPs ability to determine if a subscriber’s connection problem is the result of their network, an application, or network infrastructure.  For them, nearly 70% of issues that have historically resulted in a technician being sent to an enterprise subscriber’s location may now be assessed and addressed remotely, which in turn dramatically reduces CSPs’ costs associated with truck rolls.