Understanding what’s going on inside the world’s IP-based communications networks is becoming increasingly critical because people depend on networks more and more as they go about their every day lives, says Erik Larsson, chairman of the Network Intelligence Alliance (NI Alliance) and vice president/Marketing for Paris-based Qosmos.
“We do everything on networks today. We talk, e-mail, socialize, bank and more. Even machines are becoming increasingly interconnected via networks,” adds Larsson. “If these networks stopped working, all of our lives would fall apart.”
To make sure that doesn’t happen, Qosmos and 10 other companies founded the NI Alliance in October 2010. Today, the group’s 25 members focus on helping each other, equipment makers and service providers add intelligence to networks to optimize them. Optimized networks enable service providers, especially those operating resource-constrained mobile networks, to monetize their applications and services, and to keep their customers happy, he explains.
For example, customers who have trouble watching an on-demand HD movie at home via their DSL or cable services or subscribers who can’t watch a video or play a game on their mobile phones blame their service providers, whether it’s the operators’ fault or not. Service providers that can leverage network intelligence to get a better understanding of their traffic, of the bottlenecks in their networks or other issues can correct such problems faster. Their rewards are lower churn rates and higher average revenue per user (ARPU), according to Larsson.
How To Do It
Service providers can add intelligence to their networks by calling on turnkey providers or by working with network intelligence companies directly. Most of the solutions they ultimately implement are created by NI Alliance members that have collaborated to put the necessary piece parts together. Alliance members that are not turnkey providers typically focus on different network intelligence issues including: decoding traffic, protecting networks, making fast processor chips or interface cards, building chassis for chips and cards, and creating devices and procedures that test the network intelligence products to help ensure they work properly.
“You need some real nifty hardware and software to capture and analyze 1 Gigabit of traffic in real time,” says Larsson.
Service providers that implement network intelligence also can use it to better understand what their customers as a whole are doing with their devices. Discerning how their usage and traffic patterns are impacting their networks enables service providers to tailor products for their customers.
“When they have this kind of information, it is easier for service providers to market the right products to their subscribers,” he says.
In its quest to pre-integrate solutions that add the necessary smarts to new and old network equipment NI Alliance members also work together and share the cost of presenting Webcasts or making presentations and staffing booths at trade shows. 6WIND, Advantech, Intel and Qosmos are planning a Webcast for March to detail a solution now being developed by the four companies.
The NI Alliance also is planning to host a “Conference & Cocktail” evening Feb. 28 at Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona. While guests feast on tapas at the Museu del Rock, Larsson and guest speakers plan to tell them “all they need to know about network intelligence in less than an hour.”
— Annie Lindstrom