APRIL 29, 2008 By Meghan Fuller Hanna -- ADVA Optical Networking (search for ADVA Optical Networking) today introduced a Carrier Ethernet feature set for its FSP Network Manager (FSP NM). Specifically designed for the Ethernet demarcation space, the new software platform enables network operators to remotely monitor and manage the performance of thousands of network elements from a central location. The company sites wireless backhaul as a key application.
"We've had Etherjack technology in our demarc platforms for some time now that can collect and measure SLAs, but what was missing was the network management back office system to collect that data, put it into a database, and enable you to draw charts or graphs or put it into monthly reports or a Web portal to make it useful for the eventual end users," explains Fred Ellefson, vice president of global marketing for ADVA Optical Networking.
In 2006, ADVA inked a partnership with InfoVista that paired the company's performance-management offering, VistaInsight for Networks, with ADVA's Etherjack-enabled FSP 150 product family. That software enables service providers to offer SLAs and provides customers with real-time access to information on the performance of those services.
So why the need for a home-grown network management tool? Ellefson explains that InfoVista's offering is "more of a purpose-built performance management platform," whereas ADVA's new FSP NM is "a general-purpose network manager that includes performance management."
What's sets the FSP NM apart is its ability to do "housekeeping" type functions, says Ellefson, including in-service software upgrades and remote database backup. For example, ADVA has a customer in Texas that delivers wireless backhaul services to about 500 cell sites in the North Dallas area. "When they go to upgrade the software on those 500 demarc devices," he says, "that requires somebody logging into each one, downloading the file, and then rebooting it onto the new code. Depending on the speed of the download link, that could take days and days or the better part of a month."
The FSP NM, by contrast, allows the network operator to select the whole network or a sub-network, download the software to each of the devices in the selected area, and then schedule a reboot at, say, 2:00 a.m. The FSP NM "would then provide you with an exception report as to which one of those devices didn't make it," Ellefson explains.
Another key housekeeping function is the ability to do remote database backup. The FSP NM allows the network operator to log into any of the devices, extract the database out of them, upload the database onto an FTP server, and access that information from a central location. That same task might take days or weeks if a technician has to physically tap into each device, Ellefson notes.
"In the case of software download and database backup, those are both headache tasks that are not a big deal if I have ten or 100 [sites]," he admits, "but as you start thinking about 1,000 or 10,000, it's a real challenge."
"Service providers confirm that state-of-the-art network management is a critical item in deploying large-scale Ethernet networks today," agrees Erin Dunne, director of research services at Vertical Systems Group. "With potentially thousands of network nodes in a wireless backhaul application, it's impossible to make manual updates. Instead, the economics increasingly point to an intelligent network manager that remotely manages software upgrades, gathers statistics, and reports service-level performance from a central location," notes Dunne.
Other key features of the FSP NM include:
• Visualization, which provides a map of the network or individual elements within the network;
• Fault management, including support for Connectivity Fault Management (802.1ag);
• Configuration, which allows users to configure and provision individual elements or sub-networks;
• Performance, including the collection of key SLA data; and
• Security, which requires a single user ID and password for access to the entire network.
The ADVA FSP NM is shipping now.