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Knology Uses SevOne to Calculate Data Saturation

Customer Story
  • Needed a way to dynamically collect data, synthesize trending in real time and then present an integrated snapshot of this information to customers
  • SevOne used for traffic engineering and to graph the company’s Internet transit bandwidth
  • Instant reporting and graphing capabilities are key to business
  • Can now collect data statistics from individual or multiple pieces of equipment or interfaces and dynamically build views
  • Helps to meet SLAs with customers
  • Enabled the implementation of internally-driven solutions that result in greater network wide efficiencies

Knology LogoKnology Inc., (Nasdaq: KNOL) headquartered in West Point, Georgia, is a leading provider of interactive communications and entertainment services in the Southeast. The Company began trading publicly on the Nasdaq Global Market in December of 2003. Knology serves both residential and business customers with one of the most technologically advanced broadband networks in the country. Innovative offerings include over 200 channels of digital cable TV, local and long distance digital telephone.

Challenge:

As a Multiple Systems Operator (MSO) serving a million and a half business and residential customers with advanced communications services, such as video-on-demand (VOD), interactive television (iTV), and IP Centrex services, Knology’s service level commitments are paramount. To validate those commitments requires the ability to calibrate both internal “traffic engineering” (e.g. understanding when certain pieces of equipment are reaching data saturation), and externally, to customers looking for real-time data on the input/output of their purchased circuits.

Historically, retrieving the usage and performance of individual and aggregate customer circuits with an open source tool that collected data on static elements and then displaying that information in a trending map, had been sufficient to satisfy Knology’s customer service level requirements. However, as the number of circuits expanded and the subscriber base increased, the need to move from an open source, static element data collection tool to a more robust, graphing, trending and reporting solution, became clear — as an integral component to the company’s future success.

“For the most part we have used open source tools for data collection, where we build static graphs and then let those tools run out onto the network and collect the data,” said Bradley Frye, senior manager of data network operations, Knology. “That’s fairly easy to do with an open source application, but when you start looking at those same open source tools to help you dynamically collect data, synthesize trending in real time and then present an integrated, ‘one pane-of-glass’ map on the performance of customer circuits, it’s something open source is just not capable of doing.”

Meeting customer needs and anticipating how those needs would change over time also necessitated a change in how Knology collected data on circuit usage. According to Frye, many of the reports the MSO produces today are input/output centric, (e.g. tracking the overall circuit performance and integrity of current service level agreements).

“For many of our business customers, the next step is supplying data on latency, jitter and other statistical information relative to their purchased circuit performance — particularly for those customers who want to add other high-bandwidth applications such as voice and video,” said Frye. “We’re preparing for that day in the future where customers can take advantage of their own, full-featured portal supplying them with all the statistical data they could possibly want. That level of visibility and control isn’t available through open source tools.”

Solution:

Knology chose the SevOne Performance Appliance Solutions (SevOne PASTM) which includes a built-in performance history audit, which enables network operators to quickly pinpoint emerging network problems while enabling them to prevent future problems from occurring. Additionally, SevOne’s instant reporting and graphing capabilities allow Knology to accurately project customer bandwidth saturation through the real-time viewing of individual and aggregate circuit utilization.

SevOne is used for traffic engineering, alerting Knology’s IT staff to peak data saturation points with certain interfaces or equipment. Additionally, Knology uses SevOne to graph the company’s Internet transit bandwidth, ensuring that the bandwidth the company buys from outside Internet transit providers aligns to its pricing model. Externally, substantial data is now collected on additional circuit elements, giving Knology’s customers insight into service level agreement adherence. Using SevOne, Knology now can demonstrate to its customers a detailed singular view graph — specific to their individual bandwidth usage.

“With the SevOne product, I can collect data statistics from individual or multiple pieces of equipment or interfaces and dynamically build these views,” said Frye. “Not only does that capability help us to meet our service level agreements to customers, but it also allows us to adjust internally to ensure we uniformly maintain our preset standards system wide.”

Results:

The benefits in migrating away from open source tools and towards SevOne reporting and graphing tools has enabled Frye and his team to implement internally-driven solutions that result in greater network wide efficiencies, while building a foundation for customer services that will place the company among the most forward-thinking MSOs.

“When you start dabbling into open source you have got to have someone on staff that is proficient in Linux or Unix. It’s a complicated process and bandwidth-intensive from a man-hour perspective,” said Frye. “SevOne PAS is intuitive, so we were able to quickly understand how to survey our elements, and add new custom graphs.”

Frye also appreciated that SevOne developers were extremely knowledgeable in customizing the solution to Knology’s data collection and reporting requirements. He added, “SevOne personnel make things happen, as opposed to relying on their counterparts in larger organizations.”

The comprehension and pinpoint accuracy of the SevOne graphical reports also supply Knology with the foundation for developing a full-featured business customer portal, one that goes beyond visibility into latency and jitter and enables customers to upgrade their bandwidth on an as-needed, on-demand basis.

“We all know that bandwidth is growing and as it does our account managers, informed by the information SevOne provides, can determine when that customer is about to exceed their purchased bandwidth,” said Frye. “We can now take a customer to a portal and show them how their circuit has trended over time and when they will exceed their bandwidth. It’s a powerful solution both for the customer and for Knology.”

As Knology’s subscriber and business customer base expands, Frye sees a day when this portal paradigm becomes not just practical, but standard operating procedure as part of the day-to-day services offered by the company. www.