Business Services in a DOCSIS Network: Strategies for Supporting Service Level Agreements (2017)

By Ken Gold & Jim Gayton, EXFO Inc.

The value enterprise customers place on their communications services is typically much greater than thatof the residential customer. Unlike residential customers, their livelihood depends on their ability to stay connected, conduct commerce, and communicate with employees and business partners. Staying connected in the global, 24-hour economy requires more than just access to the internet. For many, this connectivity needs to meet increasingly stringent performance requirements—and best effort simply won’t cut it.

Cable operators have been providing internet connectivity for many years now via the data over cable service interface specification (DOCSIS) protocol. Initially intended for residential internet connectivity, enhancements to the DOCSIS protocol have enabled operators to serve not only the increasingly demanding residential market but also the more lucrative enterprise market, with higher capacity (1Gbit/s or more) uplinks and downlinks that are more typically required by businesses, especially those who relyon internet connectivity for their livelihood.

However, the battle for business services is about more than just bandwidth. As businesses evolve, their connectivity needs are also evolving and raw bandwidth is now no longer the problem. Overall quality of experience (QoE) becomes a more meaningful consideration for these customers as reliability and end user experience become more critical to their customers’ overall satisfaction. A service level agreement (SLA) between an operator and a business customer is the traditional tool for defining and policing contractual obligations with regards to service performance. Businesses, for which connectivity is an essential part of their operations model, demand SLAs to ensure that operators deliver the best possible QoE, and when this does not occur, provide for financial remedies to compensate for lost revenue and damage to reputation.

This paper examines the role that active monitoring and analytics play in managing network and service performance—not only when SLAs are involved but also for tracking performance of all other services against published service level objectives (SLOs). Taking a continuous, proactive approach to managing services in their networks by utilizing active performance monitoring combined with deep analytics of the derived key performance indicators (KPI), operators can confidently provide SLA-based services knowing they have complete visibility into the performance of their DOCSIS networks.

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