The Secrets Behind Proactive MPLS Service Assurance

February 22nd, 2007 |
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We sat down with Venu Venugopal, vice president of solutions marketing at CA, to discuss strategies for management of an MPLS VPN rollout. There are some great benefits, but along with those benefits come serious challenges. Venu helps you sort out the important things to know to face those challenges and manage your VPN proactively.

Transcript:

Host: Paul Lancour – PodTech

Guest: Venu Venugopal – CA

Paul Lancour – PodTech

I’m Paul Lancour with PodTech.Net and with me on the line right now, Venu Venugopal, the Vice President for Solutions Marketing at CA. Venu, thank you for joining us.

Venu Venugopal – CA

Thank you.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

My first question for you, we are talking today about MPLS and why is the management of MPLS, VPN serviced so important?

Venu Venugopal – CA

Yeah, I think the management of MPLS networks is important in I think in two different ways. One, it is allowing you as a provider as well as you as an enterprise to be more efficient in terms of allowing multiple applications, or multiple databases, or multiple systems to be run on a single network sharing the resources based on the priority that you set for those resources, So, this thing (Inaudible) allows you to get more with less.

The second aspect of this is the overall manageability as well as the customer experience that it can provide to your end customers, whether they are your internal users of your enterprise systems or even in the case of service providers, can be the enterprises themselves that allows you to provide a better customer experience again based on the prioritized applications, prioritized Business Critical Systems that you can run on top of the network that you have. So, those are the two benefits of having a good MPLS management framework or platform.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

Is it true to say though that this increased efficiency requires increased oversight on the part of the customer in conjunction with someone like CA?

Venu Venugopal – CA

Yeah, it is true that I guess it has got some complexities as well as it might be scoring oversight, but I think the good thing there is I think there’re more intelligent as well as more efficient systems to help you in terms of managing those complexities. So, that’s where vendors like CA, through CA is not alone, there are vendors like CA who can provide that sophisticated management platform.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

So, what capabilities are required than?

Venu Venugopal – CA

Yeah, in terms of capabilities, I would say that there are four distinct capabilities that need to be there on the platform. One is the ability to manage the network pipe themselves. I think those of you who are from the network domain can understand this very well, that is the management pipe usually they trust — set up management platform that came out about 16 years back that need is still there.

The second part of that is managing processes or service that can run on this pipe. For example, if I’m running voice with video as well as data on the network, my voice probably should have the best quality for service because any performance degradation on a voice network or even a video network you can notice that very well, but that probably is not the case with an application like email. Even if a few seconds delay is there in receiving your email, you won’t probably notice that. The process service and the distinction of applications running on the pipe become very critical for management of those capabilities.

The third one is in terms of driving application based management. In other words, whatever applications you are running on the network based on the process or service you put, if you can manage again based on the applications, what it is or the system what it is, that allows you to have better control over the experience that you can provide if you are a end user, whether that end user is an employee, or an external customer, or a partner.

The fourth one is, I just mentioned about this, that’s the user experience. I think the user experience management becomes very, very critical especially when you are doing some online transactions for example, you don’t want to wait there even for a few minutes before your payment is processed. Sometimes you are always looking for that extra level of experience coming in from who is providing you the services. So, those are the four critical capabilities I think an MPLS management platform should have.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

So, if I am deploying MPLS and I want to make sure that I hit all of the steps that you have just outlined, what are some of the key features that I should be looking for in a solution?

Venu Venugopal – CA

Yeah, that’s a good question. It needs to be looked at from four different angels. One is how well the management platform can provide a proactive management or functionality. In other words, you don’t want to get into a situation where an actual problem or fault is happening before you resolve it. In other words, you should have some capabilities for proactively presuming what is happening on the network, if there are some service degradations or performance degradations happening, then the management platform should be able to tell you that beforehand, before the problem becomes a real problem. So, that’s one aspect of it.

The second one is how well you can provide integrated performance management, again performance being not necessarily at the network level alone, we have talked about the importance of having a good performance at the end user level, the systems that the applications are running on need to have good performance. The network that is helping all this to come together needs to have good performance too, the performance management becomes an integrated performance management and if you are a provider who is providing a service level agreement on those performance, then you better be monitoring that service level performance at every point in time. So, in other words, the management platform should have the ability to report the SLA violations if that is happening or the performance of the network as a whole against an SLA.

The third one is the multi-vendor support or multi-technology support. Actually, if you look at a typical enterprise environment or even a service provider environment, there are scores and scores of technologies and vendors in those environments. There are some studies saying that in a typical provider environment there are about 100 or 120 different vendors in the operation center itself. So, there are many reasons why they are there. One reason is that there are point solutions which are needed by many of those enterprises as well as providers to provide good services.

So, they are not going to go away, so you need to have a management platform that can interface with hundreds of different technologies out there and hundreds of different vendor platforms out there. So, that becomes very, very crucial.

The fourth one I can think of is a very critical feature, is the scalability. In other words, if you want to scale up your environment to meet the growing demand, whether it’s internal demand or external customer demand, then your platform should be able to scale well with that need also. In other words, you don’t want to buy 10 different platforms when you are growing tenfold you should have the same platform scaling up. Of course, there will be additions to the platform, but that addition should be in that kind of modular fashion. In other words, the cost effectiveness of the scalability needs become a critical fact. So, I would say that those are the key features that you need to have in a good MPLS management solution.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

Great; well, that’s a great overview and I really appreciate you taking the time out to share your expertise on management strategies here with an MPLS, VPN deployment.

Venu Venugopal – CA

Thank you.

Paul Lancour – PodTech

Venu Venugopal is Vice-President of Solutions Marketing at CA.

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