Newpoint's Compass

A broadcaster's revenue is generated from the quality of the services carried on its network, and keeping them on the air translates to the bottom line. If there is an equipment failure that causes a loss of service, how quickly a broadcaster gets back online can determine how much it will cost in money and customer satisfaction. The problem with today's solutions is that although they can identify what equipment has failed, they cannot tell you what services or traffic is affected by the equipment failure.

The operators of these facilities are faced with the challenge of ensuring these services are kept on the air using a myriad of systems. Recovery of failed services may require an operator to switch between multiple systems. This makes identifying the root of the problem difficult and can add seconds if not minutes to the outage. Operators need a single system that displays all network elements from the source to the destination associated with every service they are managing on the network.

Get rid of the shoehorn

Newpoint offers answers to these challenges by providing a single solution called Compass, which can interface with third-party element management systems and provide an end-to-end view of all components on the network used to carry a particular service.

Compass provides the foundation layer to interface with the elements of the system, whether that is by directly interfacing to the physical device or by interfacing to an existing element management system. The operator can control the services through an interface called TrueNorth, which allows any workstation with a Java-enabled Web browser to become a powerful service management tool.

Getting to the top

When looking at rows of racks full of equipment, the effort to manage a service passing through would appear to be of epic proportion. This is further complicated when multiple element management applications are used to manage this equipment. With the introduction of the new Compass Network Management and Service Management Modules, the operations staff can go from managing disparate systems to managing the services across their entire network from a single GUI. Operators have the capability to view the status of every service, and when a failure occurs, they can reroute to redundant equipment. The Service Management Module also makes bringing new services online quick and easy by allowing operators to set up equipment to prepare for new services with a few mouse clicks from a Web-based GUI.

Most broadcasters have the foundation in place to allow them to achieve full service management. The lowest layer is element management that provides the real-time data from the equipment. (See Figure 1.) Most broadcast facilities are using one or more element management products today to control their equipment. And in those instances where the equipment is not being managed by an element manager, the equipment supports an interface to third-party element management applications. Compass addresses this layer by having an open architecture that facilitates standard and proprietary interfaces into the broadcasters' existing infrastructure. Tying all the components of the system together under a common platform is the first step to effective service management.

The real-time data collected in a common application facilitates the network management layer where topology and configurations of the components are managed. Topology manages the system architecture and connectivity amongst the components. Defining topology is important to the service management layer. It provides the framework for the services and gives the operator the ability to identify and isolate the source of the problem quickly, reducing the system downtime and penalties associated with service interruption.

Configuration management provides an intelligent way to manage the equipment arrangements from a higher level based on the service that will be carried on the network instead of manually configuring detail parameters for each device required to bring the service online. Topology and configuration management minimize the time required to isolate a problem on the network and to restore services, reducing the cost impact of equipment failures. In addition, they speed the bringing up and tearing down of services that are transported on the network.

The integration of the foundation layers allows the application to function at the service management layer. An application functioning at this layer uses the combined intelligence of the lower layers to build an entity comprised of elements, parameters, configurations and associated topology. Operations with an application at this layer maximize their ability to manage what is truly critical to their business instead of micromanaging details of the elements. The ability to restore a service through a redundancy chain of available resources or through a diversity site demonstrates the importance of an application functioning in this layer compared with the efforts and time required to execute the same function at the lower layers.

Tying it all together

Operators functioning in the service layer focus on the higher level functions of the business instead of the minute details of the elements. Giving operators the ability to manage the revenue sources effectively allows them to manage more services and at the same time maximize the revenue from their existing service level agreements (SLA).

The Compass Product Suite was designed to get broadcasters to the service layer without replacing their existing infrastructure so they can realize the maximum return out of their facility. It also considers the value in the exchange of service intelligence to the business layers (billing and SLA management, CRM, etc.) and facilitates the exchange of the information from the service layer. The solution allows operators to focus more on running the business and less on figuring out which shoehorned system to use to recover a failed network component.

Phill Howard is strategic sales manager for Newpoint Technologies.