How Network Analysis-Management Software Supports the Telecommunications Manager.
I'd like to introduce you to another acronym in the industry. We call it MONIES--Management of Network Income, Expense and Services. Income is the allocation process or the invoicing process that you go through to charge your users. Expenses are those processes that you go through to pay your vendors. Services are those processes that you go through to deliver the service to your user base.
If you're in the business of trying to resolve this problem, you have to look at what's happening in our industry today. You know that the communication industry is absolutely going crazy with change. You have to look at what that change is doing to you in relationship to your own organization, and how your organization is structured, and what kind of systems you should pick to solve those problems within your organization.
MONIES, or a conceptual system of it, will help you think about developing, acquiring or putting a system into your location that will do some of these things for you. Such a system is not a new technology, but rather a new slant on technology. At exhibitions, you've seen the technology that's coming at us. You know what deregulation has done to us. Costs are going up, the use of telecommunications is expanding, service is becoming a totally different concept to us than it was three or four yers ago. Today, we have several vendors calling on us, all offering us the pie in the sky--and we know that it's not true.
We're also seeing a couple of interesting things happening between the voice and the data sides of the house in telecommunications. There's an integration process going on. Not only from a technological, but also from an organizational point of view.
The integration of data has been around for some time, because in the last 10 to 15 years in data processing, we had to get a piece of dara from point A to point B. To do that, we had to manage that process, and that has fallen primarily under the purview of the data processing or the MIS organization. Now that's beginning to be drawn out as a stand-alone organization.
The voice side has been a little different. Generally speaking, the overall management of voice communications in the United States has been managed or guided by our friends at AT&T, and they've done an excellent job of that. But, as you begin to build more and more of your own telecommunications network--considering bypass and buying switches--then the management of voice becomes your responsibility. When you look at this from a corporate point of view, the overall organizational impact of what the integration and management of communication mean in a corporation, there are four key elements that need to be addressed: organization, the policy or the charter surrounding that organization, the application of the technology, and then a management system--so that you can manage that process and know what's going on in your environment.
We're going to talk about the fourth element in the management process, and some of the other elements. One I'm not going to talk about is organization. That's a tricky environment, and each of you has different organizational attributes. Some of you are centralized, some de-centralized; and there are different aspects--voice and data merged, voice and data separate, data as part of data processing. So, there's all kinds of ramifications in that arena.
On the policy side, when we talk about this in a corporate environment, we are talking about internal costing. How are we going to do that? Are we going to do pass-through? Are we going to add a markup or do usage-sensitve costing? Zero-base budgeting?
What kind of methodology are we going to use for cost allocation? These are things that you need to understand before you do your system selection. What kind of corporate standards are you going to employ in your company? Are you going to dial 9 and go directly into DDA (Direct Dial Access)? Going to dial 8 and go directly into your own network? Are you going to have access codes? What do you buy? And from whom?
Some corporations today are expending millions of dollars in capital investment in buying their own networks, buying their own telecommunications capabilities. In our travels around the country, some of the senior management staffs what we've talked to are asking their managers, your peers, perhaps, if some of you can manage our present telecommunications environment in a profit mode. Can you compete with MCI at X cents per minute? Can you compete with US Tel or other resellers out there?
When you select a system or do your systems evaluation, you're moving from a cost-center environment to a profit-center environment in telecommunications. Can you do both? There are some of you that have networks that are large enough and sophisticated enough to consider reselling. You are going to become a vendor. The process that you select, the system that you select, has to have those kind of capabilities.
Very briefly, I'm going to talk about technology, and I'm not an expert by any means.
First of all, on the data side, we know what's happening out there in data. The price of hardware is leveling or declining. Costs are going up due to labor, and unless you have some very sophisticated measurement devices, we find that the service level of mature networks tends ro decline over a period of time. This is going on in spite of the fact that more and more networks are being requested by your usesrs. We get proliferation out there.
I think we all understand what's happened to us in terms of the WATS and private-line (price) increases we've suffered in the last two years. I don't expect that they are going to stop. There are going to be multiple changes in the rate structure, and you have to be able to look at those things.
In a data environment--the kind of arena we grew up in--we had a product, a network and an application. We had a one-to-one-to-one ratio. Those of you on the data side, now beginning to look at these things a little more carefully, are probably moving into a different environment. Whether you have multiple products with multiple applications, and are piggybacking over spines or over common data networks, you're also looking at that type of technology. Are you going to go X.25 or X.75? Are you going to go SNA? Those are some of the many considerations.
Voice is much-more dramatic. We are now in charge of voice. When we call our friends from AT&T, they offer certain products, limited to what they used to offer as the corporation. So you began to buy your own switches, your own satellit e capabilities, your own microwave capabilites, and you began to put those in. The management process has migrated from the Bell environment into your own corporation.
You now become responsible for engineering, you become responsible for inventory, you become responsible for cost allocation, and your decision process becomes increasingly more complex.
Technology Creates Information Flood
The technology that is out there today is mind-boggling, I get more magazines and trade journals coming across my desk than I can read. All of us are barraged with information. We are barraged with new vendors, with new products, new capabilities.
And today, you not only can buy this progress, you can lease it. Ten years ago, there was a very hot term in the data processing industry called plug-to-plug compatibility. We can now plug other things into the IBM mainframe other than IBM tape drives. The same thing is happening today in telecommunications. We have plug-to-plug compatibility in telecommunications. Be aware that that's happening when you go and try to select a system by which to manage your network.
We want to talk about a representative complex network. We'll talk about it in certain terms, while we all understand there are different types of technology. But you don't need a sophisticated computerized program to tell you that you have a three-node digital tandem switch. Nor do you need a system to tell you that you have microwave capability, satellite capability, fiber-optics capability.
You're probably running Centrex, or some of you are still running Centrex. Maybe you're running intelligent CBXs that are running slave CBXs. But a complex network such as I'm talking about, depending on it's configuration, can cost your corporation between $20 million and $40 million dollars a year. It can also have between 20,000 and 40,000 users. Some of you have more users than that. You may have 100,000 employees in your company. Some of you have 10,000.
The end points (telephones) in our representative network may have 1,500 to 3,000 changes per month. That comes from daily service orders. After two or three months, you've kind of lost control of what those end points mean.
I'm going to ask some questions, and I don't expect answers. How many speakerphones do you have? How many telephones do you have? How many business lines do you have? How many terminals do you have? How many modems do you have? Those are some of the things that you should be concerned about in your network.
Today, you're faced with the very pleasant task of selecting on a price-performance ratio basis, so that your company gets the best buy, products and services from a variety of vendors. I was at a conference in February and heard a speaker say there are 510 resellers currently doing business in this country. Now we all know that they aren't all going to survive; but nevertheless, they're making some very attractive marketing offerings to us.
How many people sell telephones and terminals? I have no idea. We prepared a slide on this about 18 months ago and counted up to 318 vendors, a pretty good number. We started counting the other day, and then we started guessing, and we got well over 5,000.
So what type of management system shouold you be thinking about, should you be looking toward, should you be contemplating? It has to be comprehensive, it has to cover all your daily applicationss, orders, inventory, billing, directory, network analysis and problem tracking. Almost everybody in the company has a telephone, and so we've got all those experts telling us how we should do our business. Since everybody moves furniture at home, they all know how to lay out our offcies. They all have phones at home. They all know what your jobs are. "Give us a dial tone!" they say.
Must Have Greatest-Possible Awareness
We also see a merge coming in the voice-data-computer automated office environment. You should consider that. Have the capability built into that system, because you may be the merging survivor or you may be the person being merged. All of those areas have to do with telecommunications. They all have a need for the same type of information. You have to anticipate the change that is coming in technology. We are talking primarily about a data processing system that is going to be used as a management tool to give you information and control of your environment. You are going to have to be aware of the technology changes that are going on in data processing, and also be aware of the changes that are going on in your arena in telecommunications. They are getting closer and closer together, and they're expanding at an accelerated rate.
Getting data that was valid three months ago is no longer acceptable in our business. You need your information on demand, you need it in real-time, you need it now, you need it today. Tomorrow is too late. You need it tailored for you.
There are those of you that are concerned with how many 56-kb/s lines you have, with what the baud rate is one the various modems, with how much all of those speakerphones cost, or what your telecommunications cost is for the central office. There are those of you concerned about ordering services . . .about directory.
The information that you have in your system needs to be tailored to certain types of users, because in large corporations you get a variety of users who want to get their hands on this information. They want to see it, and it has to be modular.
The day when you have to do what the system tells you to do is almost gone. We've worked through that process. That has been painful, it's cost some of us some hair, put wrinkle in the face, but the day is here when as a user we can now tell our systems people, or the vendors that we are buying from, "Hey! I want the information this way." And it's available. All you have to do is look for it and demand it, and you can get it. And it has to be, in our opinion, industry-on-industry standards.
Know What the Real Goal Is
We want to control our network, we want to know what we've got, how much it costs, where it is and who's responsible for it. We don't need another black box. We don't need another program language. We don't need another level of technology. There's plenty of that stuff out there today. And at the risk of slighting some, I'm going to say industry standard is basically IBM--"Big Blue."
So, in our estimation, when you are looking for a system, think about mainframe systems, because you are talking now in terms of corporate data bases.
Waht is it that you want to accomplish? You want to control your costs. You want information on a demand basis when it's neded by you, your people and your users. You're looking for ways of increasing productivity for your people, and you don't want it to be complex. You don't want to be driven by the system; you want to drive the system. So it has to be a fairly simple administrative control tool to use. And that's possible in today's environment.
To summarize basically some of your needs: We are going to talk about two sides of the house in telecommunications. They are starting to come together, but there are some locations where they're still different.
In data, we have different priorities than we have in voice. In data we are talking about pilot programs, about optimizing our networks. We're talking about corporate architecture. What are we going to settle on? X.25? SNA? X.75? Those are real concerns of the data people. On the voice side, we have a different set of problems. Which switch do we buy, and what are the functions and features of these switches? Do we get one of each, from multiple sources?
Certainly, we're buying different technologies. And are we going to get any more deregulation?
We think when you put together these kind of requirements and these kind of thought processes you should look at it from an organizational point of view, and the policy or charter of that organization. You are going to wind up with some big similarities in terms of capabilities, from a daily order-servicing process.
You can put together a service order system that does both voice-data-computer automated office, an inventory system that talks to order entry and also handles the inventory data bases for those functions, and a billing function that allows you allocate the cost either within your corporation or to your users under an invoice basis. And also AMS, which we're going to call availability management. Availability management is an on-line problem-tracking system that's available. We are going to talk about the characteristics of these systems a little later on.
The scope of a system that manages network income, expenses and services will include order management, inventory management, billing, invoice management, directory, network analysis--analyzing the capability, analyzing the performance of that network, either from a data or a voice point of view--and problem tracking from availability, doing that for voice, data, computer and automated office.
The automated office people haven't come up with a long-standing definition. That definition keeps on changing, conference by conference. For simplicity purposes, we're going to call it the marriage between computer, voice and data. I think that's what we're really getting down to.
If you develop the system internally, be prepared to spend money and time on documentation. An undocumented system is a worthless system; it can't be used, and all that information is in the head of the people who developed it. When those people move, the source of how that system works is gone. If you buy from an outside vendor, look at the documentation of that vendor very, very closely, otherwise, you're going to have to have that vendor on your doorstep from here on out. I cannot overstate the importance of documentation in your systems planning process.
Also, you want to look at the installation process; and there's a lot more to installation process than just installing software, or putting it on a computer. Who's going to do that for you? That's one item. The other installation process is how are you going to build those data bases? How are you going to get your inventory that you're now paying for? Most of you would have directories. How many of you have an inventory of all your telephones that you have, or all the terminals that you have? That's all part of the installation process, and not an easy process to go through.
And how are you going to maintain this system? In our changing environment, you're going to have to change every month to stay up with the things that you need to do or want to do.
Principles to Consider on Design--How are you going to handle data entry for a system that's going to manage your network? We think that it should be menu-driven. We think that the operators of these systems should be talked to in a conversational mode, guided through the operations: "Are you sure you want to go to step two, because you haven't really finished step one."
Build in automated editing routines, wherever possible in your systems. Make the various functions--orders, inventories, billings--have a continuity to them, so that you can move people back and forth in those functions in your own departments. And don't forget to minimize keystrokes. You're going to spend an awful lot of time to build data bases, and in building those, it would appear to us that it would make sense to continually use the same data over and over again.
If we build a file of vendors that we're going to buy from, why can't we just hit a button in our order-management system and have those vendors automatically filled in on that order? We can do that.
We're going to discuss a concept later called Catalog. If I'm going to buy a six-buttom phone, why do I have to write out all the USOC codes and the stock numbers and the descriptions and colors. That can all be done aoutomatically. Those are things that should be considered in a keystroke environment.
Processing--If we're talking about an Order Management System, where we're writing out daily service orders, there are a lot of systems that will do that. But once we capture that information and write the service order, if we want to keep track of that in our inventory data base, then we have to re-key all that information again, or else have the Order system talk to the Inventory system.
Why ke all that stuff again? Keep track of it in inventory and just have if feed it. Look at interaction between systems. If you're doing cost allocation and billing in your environment, you will want to feed your corporate general ledger. If you are doing invoice processing, you will want to feed your corporate generl ledger. If you are doing invoices for users, as in the multi-tenant business, you will have to feed your receivables system.
Think about interaction with other systems in your corporation and how that interaction and those needs reflect on your system.
Information Handling--How many people want more paper. I don't want to look at five sheets of paper to try to find one totals number. Look at making your reporting mechanism the screen, so that you can get the information off it and go about doing your job.
Look at your reporting being done on a demand basis. I may want to see the number of ordes or inventory or billing for the Schenectady office that was sent out last month. And I may want to see it immediately. The manager of the Schenectady office is on the phone and is asking me what's going on. I need to know that information, and I only want to know that information, and I only want to see the Schenectady office--not the whole state of New York.
In data processing, there is a term called "nucleus," which usually refers to the center of a system. Let's talk about a system nucleus and the role it would play in a network management system that you may want to consider.
We have the six applications we have talked about--orders, invetory, billing, directory, network analysis, problem tracking--sitting as independent modules but focusing toward the center of a nucleus. The nucleas of any data processing system is how that system is driven and how it works. You can save yourself an awful lot of headaches with these concepts in mind. We're going to call it "profile" for simplicity's sake.
I'd like to define some of the things within the profile. We have master menus, site aids, security, location and calendar. Sitting inside the profile is a master menu which drives the system. I want to get into the system, but I want to go to the directory or to billing. The menu in profile is the starting point.
Security--What's wrong with you having your own security? You are running budgets of $10 million to $40 million. There's a lot of confidential information in these files. There's an awful lot of information in your directory about key people in your corporation. You can and should build security in at the application level. Then you can segment as to which way you want to go, whether into voice, data, computer, automated office, word processing or wherever. That can be customized.
The master menus are system acess selection. Where do we want to within the system to function? Companies may have 10 to 15 people using the system simultaneously. That's not unreasonable. With a security password, whether I go to voice, data, computer, automated office files or site aid are processing parameters.
How long do you want to keep records or orders on line? How long do you want to keep billing information on line so that you keep it on line, the more money it costs you. You should be able to select that. Orders for 1 days, or billing, 30 days; directory forever. Those can be selected by processing.
Field Labels--What do you want to call reports? Why do you have to have report titles hard-coded, so that every time something changes you have to go back and change that?
relational Tables--You want to know if data A Relates to data B or C. If you're doing call costing ad V&H, and want to be able to relate from here to Des Moines into a particular set of tariff tables, that's a relational aspect taht you can call out in sophisticated software systems.
Under security, many of your companies have subsidiaries. Why can't you run one piece of software for all your subsidiaries, have uniform data bases, centralized data bases, corporate data bases? If you don't have subsidiaries, some day you may be a subsidiary. So ask for a multi-company feature.
Security by User--I'm going to let Charles get into directory, John into billing, and Fred into orders, but I'm going to keep Jane out of inventory. And you can do that with your security system by terminal, by application, by transactions, and whether you jus want the people to inquire or to update. All of those are considerations taht you should make.
The calendar addresses three years--past, present and future. Each of you are from geographical locations all over the nation, and if you're in California you have Admissions Day, a state legal holiday. You don't have that in New York. In Texas, we have San Jacinto Day. You donht have that in Florida. Put that in.
Things to Think About
In summary, when you talk about the nucleus of your system, what we're suggesting is, think about these things: the multi-company feature, centralized control, centralized data base and de-centralized access, which you can do through security. Think about your corporate subsidiary divisional relationships and low they may and do change, and how you will be expected to provide information to your management in those areas.
I suspect that there are those of you whose companies are building large corporate headquarters, or have taken over large buildings and are contemplating or may want to contemplate shared tenant services. Isn't that another department to you? You can't send them an internal allocation, but you can certainly send them an invoice.
If you ave the top 20 floors of a 30-story building, and they rent out the first 10, you can put in multi-tenant sharing and they can run off the same switch. that's a capability that should be there, because it will meet a need that may exist in your company today, or certainly may exist in your company tomorrow. . . .
Part II of this software tutorial will appear in a coming issue.
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|Author:||Roberts, M.; Shelton, C.|
|Date:||Jun 1, 1985|
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