A large network service provider had been using traditional management tools to manage a broad array of services. After several years of deployment and custom work, the systems were starting to improve network operations. However, the maintenance costs were spiraling out of control and it was becoming more difficult to keep up with changes in the managed environment. Worse, the operational improvements were not translating into higher customer satisfaction because of communications failures between operations and the call center. The provider needed to find an alternative that could deliver real improvements to customer satisfaction while reducing operational costs. The answer to this challenge was an VMware Smart Assurance solution composed of:

  • VMware Smart Assurance ATM/Frame Relay Manager

  • VMware Smart Assurance IP Availability Manager

  • VMware Smart Assurance IP Performance Manager

  • VMware Smart Assurance Application Services Manager

  • VMware Smart Assurance Service Assurance Manager Adapter Platform

  • VMware Smart Assurance Business Impact Manager

  • VMware Smart Assurance Service Assurance Manager

  • VMware Smart Assurance Business Dashboard

    With the autodiscovery feature of VMware Smart Assurance autodiscovery, built-in analysis, and policy-based management, operations was able to immediately identify and isolate root-cause failures in their networks. Because VMware Smart Assurance applications automatically detect and adapt to changes in topology, the service provider no longer needed to dedicate teams of consultants to maintain them. Also, because VMware Smart Assurance intelligently manages networks with overlapping IP addresses (for example, private IPs), the provider could discontinue the expensive process of dedicating a separate management system to each customer. These features helped the provider to dramatically reduce the cost of managing their environment.

    By integrating the VMware Smart Assurance solution with existing management tools (for example, system and application agents from Concord), the service provider was able to use its existing investments to cut deployment time.

    The unique capability of VMware Smart Assurance to integrate not just events, but events in the context of a comprehensive topology, allowed the service provider to more effectively integrate operations with its other OSS applications. By integrating with their provisioning system, the provider was able to automatically build their business topology, and relate customers to services and services to elements in their network topology. This integration provided automated business impact analysis for prioritization, and allowed users to view technology failures in their complete technical and business context.

    Leveraging this business topology, VMware Smart Assurance was able to automatically identify which events customers would care about so that the call center could focus on customer impacts rather than sifting through masses of arcane infrastructure events. Similarly, by using the customer data to integrate with the CRM application, VMware Smart Assurance was able to identify the account managers associated with each customer impact, and notify them of problems in real time. Furthermore, the operations staff used this information to coordinate maintenance work with the account managers of potentially affected customers.

    Because problem causes and impacts were linked, the provider was also able to streamline communications between operations and the call center. For example, when operations identified a problem and dispatched an engineer to resolve it, they could estimate a repair time and the system automatically relayed that estimate for all customer impacts to the call center and customer web applications so that everyone immediately knew when the service would be restored. Finally, when customer relations faced a crisis and the customer assurance staff elevated the priorities of specific customer impacts, VMware Smart Assurance automatically applied the priority changes to the root-cause failures and notified engineering management so that operations could shift their activities accordingly.

    With the Business Dashboard, the provider's customers were able to get real-time views of their data. Because these views use the same topology, the views changed automatically whenever the topology changed. This, too, reduced the cost of servicing customers.

    In conclusion, by effectively integrating the VMware Smart Assurance solution with its existing applications (for example, provisioning, CRM, and call center), the service provider was able to show a more professional face to its customer. In the past, customer calls to the call center typically resulted in an operator taking messages, calling around operations to see what was happening, and then calling the customer back — a time- consuming process that often left the customer wondering what the provider was doing. Now, when the customer calls, the call center is not only aware of the problem, but is also able to give the customer up-to-the-minute information about the status of the problem and its resolution.