Next-generation technologies such as SOA (Service-Oriented Architecture), IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) and SDF (Service Delivery Frameworks) foist rapid change onto many parts of the telecom industry, including its core architecture. These technologies demand more attention to Capacity Management early in the service implementation process when designing and scaling the IT infrastructure to support various and multiplying service types and to maintain the service quality necessary to attract and retain rapid subscriber adoption. For example, the prospect of supporting extreme transaction processing alone suggests that some kind of optimization strategy is necessary in the datacenter.
Many telecom service providers have turned to TeamQuest (www.teamquest.com) and its data and analysis tools for this kind of optimization that hovers somewhere in the datacenter between the IT and telecom worlds. TeamQuest has been around since 1991, serving IT operations with its TeamQuest Performance Software suite. Focusing solely on IT Service Optimization, TeamQuests products are deployed in high profile companies such as Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, Bell Canada, Virgin Mobile USA, T-Systems, Time Warner Cable, Sun Microsystems, NCR, Fidelity, Cigna, Cisco Systems (News - Alert), and many more. These companies use TeamQuest’s software platform to optimize the performance and capacity of their open system servers and mainframe servers. TeamQuest also offers an innovative Analytical Modeling technology capable of complex “What-If” analyses of future IT systems performance. It’s used by many network operators and service providers to make an educated guess as to how growth wil affect their operations, and it thus helps them make mission critical decisions.
TeamQuest’s Keith Hanna, Director, Communications Americas, says, “I see open opportunities in the IMS and SOA markets. There’s an opportunity here to leverage TeamQuest’s role in optimizing SOA in the emerging IMS segment. Of course, SOA is more of an enterprise type of play, which definitely fits our area of datacenter capacity planning and performance optimization. Essentially, my thesis is that carriers need to plan ahead to optimize the underlying server computing infrastructure for SOA and IMS in the face of rapid subscriber adoption and extreme transaction processing. What good is it to rapidly deploy new service applications and turn up many new customers if the underlying systems cannot support the accelerating processing load? I don’t see anyone else talking about this aspect of the SOA/IMS architecture and implementation.”
“We don’t do network modeling,” says Hanna. “We stay pretty much in the datacenter. We’re talking about open systems servers and mainframes. However, when you start looking at the components of the IMS world as well as SOA, there’s a section of it, specifically in the application area, where the applications are going to be residing on open systems servers, especially as more and more applications are developed by the service providers and are bolted on or ‘plugged in’. That applications space is going to become quite busy. So, I just want to make it clear that we don’t play in the network space, although we do have a small amount of play there with an agent. Still, our ‘sweet spot’ is in the datacenter. We can do things like optimize server farms at RBOCs.”
“For example, Verizon (News - Alert) Wireless is one of our clients,” says Hanna, “On the IT side of the house, they use us to ensure that they have sufficient capacity in their operations and applications that they run to support their enterprise, be it an Oracle app or CRM or some kind of billing app.”
“We’re also working with a large cable company right now and they have a consumer residential email system which handles something like a million users,” says Hanna, “At the moment they’re evaluating our tools to see if they want to use them to ensure that their servers can maintain enough capacity to support public demand.”
Dimensions of Optimization
“Our product is an agent-based platform,” says Hanna, “We support system agents, so that would include Sun MicroSystems, Windows, IBM (News - Alert), Linux, HP — more in terms of hardware. Then we have an applications agent that looks at things such as Oracle, IBM WebSphere, BEA WebLogic, Microsoft (News - Alert) SQL Server. On the storage side we support EMC, but then we also have customized and user-defined agents where you can build agents to fit certain applications which involve telecom-related, custom-defined apps.”
“Our system collects data on key performance indicators such as CPU utilization, disk I/O, and other things,” says Hanna, “The datacenter management and operations people want to ensure that there’s no ‘queuing up’ of services and that the services will continue to operate real-time. If the services ‘queue up’ there will be delays in response times expected by users and the applications themselves. You don’t want to have cellular phone clients trying to authenticate into the network database and being delayed when subscribing for more time on their prepaid cell services or downloading a specific app. They want to have real-time service, and that’s what our software platform ensures through the data we collect and then through our modeling tool, which enables you to do projections to see what may happen if there’s subscriber growth, or if more applications are added to a server tier, such as a VoIP, CRM or cell phone application. You can start modeling those application components and take a peek into the future to determine where the break points are, and how much hardware you’ll need underneath it based on that data to ensure that, as your operation grows, you can meet your forecasts, and the system will continue to support your business without problems.”
“You can put all kinds of bandwidth out there,” says Hanna, “which is what network optimization is primarily about, but if you don’t take a look at the systems, servers and other hardware supporting the applications, and allow them to become constrained, then all the bandwidth in the world isn’t going to matter. That’s really my point when looking at the IMS and SOA space. It’s great to have all of that bandwidth to build world-class networks, to have reliability and failover capability, but don’t forget the datacenter where the applications are going to reside. That’s where TeamQuest helps.”
Richard Grigonis is an internationally-known technology editor and writer. Prior to joining TMC (News - Alert) as Executive Editor of its IP Communications Group, he was the Editor-in-Chief of VON Magazine from its founding in 2003 to August 2006. He also served as the Chief Technical Editor of CMP Media’s Computer Telephony magazine, later called Communications Convergence (News — Alert) from its first year of operation in 1994 until 2003. In addition, he has written five books on computers and telecom (including the Computer Telephony Encyclopedia and Dictionary of IP Communications). To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.