CrossKeys opens service doors

Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (CLECs) and service providers must face the task of having to ensure their customers are not only getting good service, but that they are getting the service they are paying for.

One Canadian company has recently made two announcements that it hopes will enable service providers to better

manage their networks and meet service level agreements (SLAs). Kanata, Ont.-based CrossKeys Systems Corp. has been offering its Resolve software, a performance management tool, since 1996. But the company recently made two agreements which will enable it to combine its offering with other products to offer more to its customers, according to CrossKeys spokesperson John Blackmore.

“We (CrossKeys) essentially enable you to take snapshots of your network. We pull data from various parts of the network, largely through the network management system,” he explained. “We pull all of that data in, we do internal crunching to be able to provide reports.”

By looking at historical and current perspectives, Blackmore said it would be easy to make future projections – if only service providers had the time.

“We find the service providers are so busy just scrambling to keep the day-to-day operations going, they’re not really looking forward in network planning, which is absolutely critical given the amount of competition that’s going on,” Blackmore said.

So CrossKeys has, under the first agreement, matched up Resolve with software called RiskWise from Parc Technologies Ltd., a firm based in London, England.

The agreement with Parc was made to help service providers who deal with high-volume IP traffic and generally have to face a lot of unpredictability, according to Blackmore.

RiskWise — what Blackmore called a “mathematical solution” — requires data input and computing time.

“By taking certain pieces of data, they’re able to future-project into what network traffic is going to look like based on a certain set of parameters,” Blackmore said.

Selective data is sent from CrossKeys to Parc, which enables RiskWise to make its calculations, showing what customers’ traffic patterns will look like in the future.

CrossKeys is looking at offering this as an extra value-added service for its customers, although it is available on its own, according to Blackmore. The company is in the process of putting together a package, but there was no pricing available at press time. Resolve’s price alone is based on the size of the network.

Portal Software Inc., which is headquartered in Cupertino, Calif., is the second company that has made an agreement with CrossKeys. This deal, according to CrossKeys, is to help carriers and service providers offer guarantees of QoS. Together the companies are offering an Operational Support Systems (OSS) tool for IP billing based on Resolve and Portal’s Infranet.

This will enable a service provider to show it has delivered what it has guaranteed, according to Blackmore. The company said the offering will make the reconciliation of SLAs with the billing process easier.

What will make service providers successful is being able to offer quality of service (QoS) and then being able to bill for it appropriately, Blackmore said.

The solution is available now through both companies.

Elisabeth Rainge, an analyst with IDC in Framingham, Mass., believes that this second deal is interesting because there is “a lot of infrastructure building that is underway in terms of the IP network.”

What Portal and CrossKeys do as a partnered pair of vendors is smart billing, “in terms of IP…that’s pretty important because billing is the make or break of a service provider in that until they can bill for it, it’s very hard to sell it.”

The Portal announcement was made at an opportune time, according to Rainge.

“What service providers are focused on is a speed to market issue at the moment, and the ability to turn up new services, and billing is so core to that action,” she said.

Both agreements put CrossKeys in an advantageous position, and the work the companies are doing is something that will increase the market opportunity for service providers, Rainge added.