Pick up the cell phone, dial the desired number - and then we hear the dial tone. And we can quickly access the Internet on our laptop or tablet. Today, we take both of these things for granted. For this to work smoothly, there must always be sufficient capacity in the telecommunications network. This means, for example, that there are enough free FTTH ports or DSLAM connections to connect new customers to the network.
Every telecommunications operator has the capacity management required for this - including Sunrise UPC GmbH, which is headquartered in Zurich. It is the second-largest Swiss telecommunications provider with one of the largest fiber optic networks in the whole country. Capacity management was and is one of the core tasks of the network engineers here: a resource-intensive task that for a long time was operated almost entirely by hand and took a total of around 200 man-days per year.
Due to this high manual effort, Marek Kulesza's team had been discussing the idea of introducing a more automated and centralized system for capacity management (CMIS - Capacity Management Information System) since 2013. In 2016, this task was finally actively tackled - a central management solution should be available for all network domains in the future and sustainably relieve the technical team.
An initial market analysis showed that there were ready-made standard solutions on the market. However, these did not meet all the requirements that the Sunrise team had for the desired solution. One feature in particular was missing from many standard products: the ability to use data from existing systems - for example, the well-maintained inventory and inventory data on the network infrastructure - and to prepare it in a meaningful way for further analysis. This is all the more important because Sunrise takes a multivendor approach to its network infrastructure. Devices, plug-in cards, software, etc. from different manufacturers are used here, and the complexity of the hardware on site is correspondingly high. An automated solution should improve the clarity here and thus also the ability to plan.
Customized solution instead of off-the-peg goods
Since the standard products on the market did not meet all the criteria, the decision was made to create a customized solution together with an external partner. In the course of a tender, four providers were invited and after a three-month evaluation phase, TIMETOACT was finally chosen as the partner. In addition to the right combination of the desired functions within the given budget, the experts from TIMETOACT were able to convince by presenting a solution concept that made sense of the existing data on the network infrastructure. The basis of trust had also already been established: TIMETOACT had already been working successfully for Sunrise for ten years, primarily in the area of IT monitoring solutions.
The Sunrise CMIS - Solution Design and Structure
Once the decision was made, Sunrise and TIMETOACT set up a joint core team consisting of two employees from each company. These were to drive the project together with an extended team of ten to twelve people and implement the new Sunrise CMIS, which is made up of several components. The solution is as follows:
The existing inventory data on the network infrastructure is first extracted with PDI (Pentaho Data Integration) and prepared in such a way that clear and fast decisions in capacity planning become possible. PDI is a proven open source software for ETL tasks (ETL - Extract, Transform, Load). It can read data from a wide variety of data sources (databases, Excel, REST, mail, etc.), transform it into a consistent format, and then store it in a target database for further analysis. In addition to inventory data on the network infrastructure, other data sources such as monitoring data (e.g., on the utilization of network sections) are also evaluated and merged in this process.
In the next step, IBM Cognos is used to analyze the previously unified data. The data is presented graphically and easily understandable in dashboards. For this purpose, IBM Cognos offers a variety of visualization options: A wide variety of chart and table options are available to users. Furthermore, end users can also apply additional filters or create further calculations as required. In this way, suitable reports can be created for every area of application and existing ones can be further adapted.
The initial setup and implementation of the first use cases took about a year. Initially, capacity management for the IP network was mapped in the new system. In a second phase, additional network domains and use cases were added, such as mobile backhaul. This second implementation phase took about half a year.
The fact that we had already known the customer and its network environment for a long time had a very positive influence on the success and smooth implementation. and smooth implementation very positively. Our teams worked together seamlessly and very productively, so that we were able to successfully implement this complex project in a relatively short period of time. complex project successfully in a relatively short period of time. Even minor hurdles such as staff changes on the customer side, we were able to work together after a quick reorganization of the team. reorganization of the team. This good cooperation helped us to complete the project on time and within budget. and roll out the project on time and within budget.Jeanette Fürst Director SalesTIMETOACT
Ready solution - technical details and advantages in operation
"With Sunrise CMIS, capacity management has been greatly simplified. Users at lower and middle management levels can immediately use the reports generated by the system and do not need any in-depth expertise - they are simply accessible via dashboards. In some individual cases, raw data is also summarized in Excel files - but this is only for appropriately skilled users. In addition, the system automatically generates mails that clearly summarize specific problems for recipients and list necessary actions. With this information, capacity bottlenecks are identified at an early stage and action can be taken accordingly," explains Ralf Grewe, Senior Solution Architect at TIMETOACT.
The desired savings were also achieved. Since the new solution has been in use, Sunrise has been able to save 120 man-days per year that were previously required for the time-consuming and manual creation of reports. This has freed up valuable capacity, which is now available for more demanding tasks and the further development of the network.
"Thanks to the Sunrise CMIS and the support from OpenAdvice, we have seen significant reductions in our day-to-day workload right from the start," explains Marek Kulesza, Lifecycle Manager Operational Support System (OSS) at Sunrise. "We achieve most of the savings by automating the necessary calculations and reports. The system also automatically generates alerts when certain thresholds are exceeded and sends them to technicians so they can take appropriate countermeasures. This means that we detect problems earlier and can rectify them in good time. As a result, we now operate our network virtually error-free," concludes Marek Kulesza.
The Sunrise CMIS has also enabled many improvements to be made at the technical level. The CMIS collects and stores data from almost every segment of the IP network. In addition, it automatically calculates the number of IP addresses used and the backhaul capacity.
Furthermore, Sunrise monitors the use of hardware and software licenses with the CMIS. The CMIS calculates how license usage will develop in the future and thus allows clean forward planning. This saves additional budget, as no unnecessary licenses have to be purchased in advance just to be on the safe side.
Overall, the new CMIS has enabled us to significantly improve our data quality and planning reliability. increase. One of the most important advantages is, that the new solution can now also make forecasts about the resources we will need in the future. The old, manual solution could not do that. This makes it much easier for our teams to plan capacity and budget control considerably. The automation of many of the processes that we used to run manually has relieved many We can now use their resources more effectively in other areas.Marek Kulesza Lifecycle Manager OSSSunrise
Future proof solution
After the successful implementation, the Sunrise CMIS has become an important support in the daily work routine - the team relies on the reliability and performance of the system every day.
Further expansion of the solution is already planned. In addition to the integration of further domains, the Sunrise CMIS is to become even more efficient through machine learning (ML). The ML capabilities will then be used, among other things, to further increase the quality of predictions. The ML capabilities required for this are already integrated in IBM Cognos; no additional software is required.
Overall, the Sunrise CMIS offers all the functions that will be needed in the near future. This is also helped by the fact that IBM Cognos Analytics, as the "heart" of the solution, is becoming more and more powerful through regular updates. Every year, several new releases appear, which not only provide bug fixes, but also many new functions. Thus, Sunrise UPC GmbH is well prepared for future requirements and the Sunrise CMIS will be the backbone of the Sunrise network for a long time. Customers can thus be sure that they will be able to make phone calls and surf the Internet without any problems in the future.