PacketFront Software receives a Vinnova grant to accelerate SDN and NFV development

PacketFront Software, the leading multi-vendor network automation provider, has received a grant to accelerate the development of solutions supporting Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV). The grant was awarded by Vinnova, the Swedish innovations agency. The project will run for two years with the objective to accelerate the development of PacketFront Software’s orchestration solution for SDN and NFV.

The transformation from hardware-dependent legacy systems to new software based SDN and NFV networks will change the core of how telecom operators operate their networks. PacketFront Software is uniquely positioned to help operators in this process by enabling a smooth and gradual migration path to SDN and NFV. This is done by using PacketFront Software’s BECS Network Management system’s capability to simultaneously orchestrate both legacy and SDN/NFV networks.

Sales Engineers: PacketFront Software is recruiting

Title: Sales Engineer
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Job status: Full time, permanent

PacketFront Software is rapidly expanding in the Telco segment. We are making telecom operators more competitive with our solutions for end-to-end automation of network operations and service fulfilment. If you want to be part of a dynamic team building the new business, this could be your next challenge.

About PacketFront Software
PacketFront Software delivers automated multi-vendor network management since 2001 through its unique OSS system BECS. BECS provides zero touch configuration and automated service provisioning for any IP network hardware and topology and offers operators a seamless migration path from legacy networks to SDN and NFV. 100 operator customers in 23 countries have chosen BECS for efficient network operations.

At PacketFront Software, we know that the success of our company relies on our people who design, market, sell and support our automated solutions for broadband and data communication networks. As a member of the PacketFront Software Solutions team, you will enjoy working with highly committed colleagues in a fast-paced business environment. Individual as well as team contributions are highly valued and expected from you.

PacketFront Software’s employment decisions are based on applicant’s experience, specialist skills and personality. Female applicants are encouraged. We have already gathered some of the very best system specialists, engineers, and sales people in our business. Do you want to become part of a dynamic and inspiring team?

Job Description

PacketFront Software brings the OSS and BSS applications BECS and BBE to new markets. To reinforce our growth we are now hiring a Sales Engineer to strengthen the team.

Sales Engineering is a key role in the company which involves many aspects for doing successful business. Sales Engineering supports our business by their ability to deeply understand general and specific customers, by designing and advising existing and prospective customers on what solutions best fulfil their needs and by, in broad terms, becoming the trusted advisor to our customers and partners. Sales Engineers work in close cooperation with our sales and business development staff.

We require that you have an edge and outstanding knowledge within one or several of following areas:

  • Passion for solution design
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Strong ability to express customer value deriving from technology capabilities
  • Broadband/datacom topologies, technologies (e.g., Ethernet, PON, xDSL) and products
  • Programming and scripting (Shell, TCL, Perl, etc.)
  • Database knowledge
  • Structured work methodology
  • “Can Do” personality with a strong urge to close action points

Experience within the following areas is of additional merit:

  • Experience of OSS/BSS systems in the telecom/datacom industry, particularly service provisioning and management
  • Experience from mobile core networks and/or mobile backhaul solutions
  • Experience from software solutions and software sales

Personal capabilities:

  • You must already be a resident in Sweden.
  • You are fluent in English, both spoken and in writing
  • Quick learner with a structured approach and analytical skills
  • Strong communicator with ability to enthuse customers and partners you interact with
  • You are creative, but also a Finisher delivering to commitments made
  • Team player

Responsibilities:

  • Technical Account Management, assisting Key Account Manager with technical aspects of the sales effort
  • Manage own relations with technical parts, including applicable executive level managers, of customer and partner organization.
  • Network and Solution designs meeting customer needs while maximizing our sales
  • Independent management and execution of customer projects
  • Creation and delivery of presentations, workshops, demos and proposal documentation, etc.
  • Lead customer lab and fields tests, as well as customer pilots
  • RFI/RFP responses
  • Drive local technical market requirements within PacketFront Software

Please send your CV and an introduction letter to jobs@packetfrontsoftware.com
For more information about the position, call Timo Kuusela, +46 706 588 483

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How to minimize manual time and maximize time introducing new services

Telecom networks are complex structures. So complex that any interference in the current “status quo” is often met with an unwarranted resignation among telecom operators. Energy and focus is being invested in maintaining the networks and running them manually instead of taking steps towards automation leading to lower operating costs and increased robustness of the network.

But every other industry today would not have survived had it not taken steps towards automation of routine tasks in order to gain in profitability and time savings. In the telecoms industry, however, automation of network management is at best rare, at worst non-existent. It forces the operators to put a lot of energy and resources into just keeping the networks up and running. Too much resources. This is reflected in the general low number of new services and innovation level in the telecommunications industry today.

But we believe this scenario can be changed by attacking the many myths that still permeates the telecom sector today, such as:

  • “Our network is so complex that it is impossible to automate.”
  • “Changing our network would involve excessive risks”.
  • “The transformation of our network will take a very long time and cost significantly more than it tastes. We simply do not have the time to look over our network right now”.

The “too-complex-myth”

There is an understanding in the telecoms industry that automation is the way to go in order to make time available for developing new services. It should not take 18-24 months for each new service to be implemented, but it usually does that because operators all energy is occupied in maintaining the daily delivery, while they at the same time experience declining margins in the existing business.

To be able to reverse this situation, operators must become more innovative and agile in their service packaging. In this situation they cannot be limited by technology or structures. One important factor in releasing the innovation power is detaching the hardware from the service development and provisioning. That is a prerequisite for creating faster innovation cycles that operators need. This requires “network harmonization”, where an abstraction layer is created between the network and the systems above. The major benefits of this approach are twofold:

  • The abstraction layer isolates the overlaying OSS and BSS systems from the network structure. By doing this, the introduction of services is considerably faster as the systems in the OSS/BSS layer do not need to consider how new or changed services are realized in the network.
  • The automation makes network changes in minutes instead of weeks or even months. This is especially valuable in large and complex networks using many network technologies and topologies.

And this does not require that the whole current network structure needs to be abandoned in one swift “big bang” solution.

The “big bang myth”

One can understand that the belief of a need for a “big bang” approach creates a kind of paralysis, and a “wait-and-see” attitude easily wins. You know what you have, but not what you will get. The technicians, who are often busy keeping the networks up and running, raise their concerns and stall the process. This is usually done as a self-protective measure, but not seldom because they want to maintain their position as “the Masters of the Network”. Consequently the whole process easily comes to a halt.

However, we believe that the risk does not lie in the automation of the networks. The greatest risk is to continue to maintain time-consuming manual processes and allow competitors to get ahead with greatly improved profitability and innovation power as a result.

The “transformation will take a long time myth”

The key is to take into account the concerns that major changes raise and take small steps in the right direction instead of thinking massive overhaul projects. It is both possible and so much better to start “somewhere” than “nowhere”. But where to start then?

Step one is to start automating a small manual task in the chain of processes in a network. Such a task could be:

  • A specific service, for example a corporate or private client service
  • A part of the network, such as a geographic area
  • A specific network layer, such as MPLS nodes, access switches or end-user equipment
  • A specific function, such as the rollout of new hardware

Or perhaps a combination of several of these tasks: e.g. Automation of the access switch configuration for end-users in a particular city.

Conclusion. We believe that the technical staff should minimize the time they spend on routine tasks. They should instead use their valuable skills to defining the standardized components, which the sales organization can use to build their offerings upon. On top of that an automated network provides an opportunity to test new services ad-hoc to see which ones are appreciated by the end-customers.

PacketFront Software appoints Jan Kettnaker as new CEO

PacketFront Software, a leading multi-vendor network automation provider, announced today that Jan Kettnaker has been appointed new CEO starting at the end of August. Present CEO Ulf Avrin, who resigned from his position earlier this year, will leave the company by end of May. During the period of June to mid-August Timo Kuusela has been appointed interim CEO.

Jan Kettnaker has a solid background from working in management positions in companies such as Intel, Exportrådet and Dometic Group. He has built and managed organizations of various sizes in international environments making him very well suited to take the company further on its path to become a world recognized, well established software company in the Network Automation arena.

“We are very happy to welcome Jan on-board. He is coming to the company in a very exciting phase, when PacketFront Software is rapidly converting from more of a start-up to a game-changing growth company. This evolution means new challenges. With Jan´s background we are confident that he can manage these challenges and together with the team continue our fast sales and organizational growth.

At the same time we want to take the opportunity to thank Ulf for the tremendous work he has done in bringing PacketFront Software to the strong market position it has today. We are sorry to see him leave, but we have full understanding for the personal reasons Ulf has for his resignation”, says Henrik Scharp, Chairman of the board, PacketFront Software.

“I thank the Board of Directors for providing me this opportunity as new CEO. The business prospects of PacketFront Software are truly exciting. The rapidly increasing need for automation, where Service Providers are forced to make changes in order to achieve faster and more agile networks while also reducing cost, make this a time for new innovative suppliers. Add to this the quick acceptance of SDN (Software Defined Networks) and NFV (Network Function Virtualization), both key technologies of PacketFront Software, the company is really well positioned for the future”, says Jan Kettnaker, new CEO of PacketFront Software.

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Small steps – major progress

As we have seen in two previous blog posts it IS a prerequisite to automate the networks in order to enable innovative new offerings, business and services. Operators do have this insight, but as it often involves complex structures, all dependent on each other in various ways, the thought “should we do this? Can we do a total overhaul and go all-in in the process”, easily arises.

It is understandable that this creates a kind of paralysis, and a “wait-and-see” attitude easily wins. You know what you have, but not what you will get. The technicians, who are often busy keeping the networks up and running, raise their concerns and stall the process. Usually as a self-protective measure, but not seldom because they want to maintain their position as “the Masters of the Network”. Consequently the whole process easily comes to a halt.

However, we believe that the risk does not lie in the automation of the networks. The greatest risk is instead to continue to maintain time-consuming manual processes and allow competitors to get ahead with greatly improved profitability and innovation power as a result.

The key is to take into account the concerns that major changes raises and take small steps in the right direction instead of thinking massive overhaul projects. It is both possible and so much better to start “somewhere” than “nowhere”. But where to start then?

Step one is to start automating a small manual task in the chain of processes in a network. Such a task could be:

  • A specific service, for example a corporate or private client service
  • A part of the network, such as a geographic area
  • A specific network layer, such as MPLS nodes, access switches or end-user equipment
  • A specific function, such as the rollout of new hardware

Or perhaps a combination of several of these tasks: e.g. Automation of the access switch configuration for end-users in a particular city.

By working in a small scale initially and assisted by a solution that supports this approach, one can achieve a process where the steps with the greatest benefits and lowest complexity are automated first.

An incremental automation enables a network built on modularity, where the implementation of new services can be achieved much faster and more efficient. This facilitates for the marketing and sales department to come up with ideas for new services, which can quickly be realized by the technicians.

We believe that the technicians should minimize the time they spend on routine tasks. They should instead use their technical skills to defining the standardized components, which the sales organization can use to build their offerings upon. On top of that an automated network provides an opportunity to test new services ad-hoc to see which ones are appreciated by the end-customers.

Furthermore, the technicians can use their time to develop the network for the future – including quality, capacity, robustness needs, i.e. aspects that have an actual effect on the perceived quality by the end customers. And thus directly impact customer satisfaction and the ability to earn money on the networks.

Cutting costs and increasing productivity in the telecommunications industry are all about the same things as in other industries, namely automation. The road to more cost effective and innovative company starts with small steps. Take time for the conversion if needed, but the important message is to start now. And to think modular.

PacketFront Software speaks at VNF Management & Orchestration in Barcelona April 28-29

PacketFront Software speaks about A Pragmatic Approach to SDN & NFV at VNF Management&Orchestration in Barcelona April 28-29 . We will also demonstrate how our product BECS is a powerful tool for anyone who believes that legacy systems will exist a long time, while still wanting to reap the benefits of SDN and NFV immediately.

Come and listen to our Head of Product Management, Henrik Johansson, covering a topic we know are top of mind for many operators: while SDN & NFV will solve many problems, they will not solve all of them . As an operator you will not rip and replace your entire network. You will not redo your entire OSS/BSS stack. So how can SDN & NFV help you today?

Henrik will talk about some low hanging fruit on your road towards NFV nirvana. And even if you don’t get there in a long time, you can still have major gains with very little investment. At the end of the day, this is all about making money, so what can be done to shorten e.g. lead-times for new service offerings?

Henrik will demonstrate technology available already today and usable in your existing network and he will look at and discuss a few different practical use-cases and he will propose a pragmatic, step-wise approach for the transformation of your network.

Welcome to meet with us and our booth for in-depth discussions!

/Ulf AVRIN, Henrik JOHANSSON and Anders WÄLIVARA

ulf.avrin@pfsw.com ; henrik.Johansson@pfsw.com and anders.walivara@pfsw.com

“Our network is so complex that it is impossible to automate”

The headline could be a quote from one of our many meetings with potential customers. Somewhere there is an understanding that automation is the way to go in order to make time available for developing new services. However, the perception that one is stuck in existing structures is deeply ingrained, as well as the culture that “we have always done like this”. Among those responsible a certain resignation is present, based on the fact that on the one hand they want to be able to introduce new services quickly and smoothly. On the other, the knowledge that they have tens or even hundreds of different IT systems which need to be updated in various ways when new services are introduced. Much of the energy and resources are also spent on updating the switches and routers manually to keep the networks running. All this takes time. Not seldom does it take between 18-24 months for each new service to be implemented.

Operators all energy is occupied to maintain the daily delivery and at the same time they experience declining margins in the existing business. Operators see themselves reduced to a mere “Internet pipes”, where the only means of competition is who can carry X Mbit / s cheapest as revenues from the old services, such as telephony and television are falling steadily. To protect themselves they desperately try to block services such as Skype for their customers. In reality, this means that the power of innovation does not exist within these companies.

The end result is that operators existing structures are maintained and that the new innovations tend to come instead from third parties, such as Google or Netflix. These companies thus “owns” the relationship with the end customer and in the end also earn major part of the money.

To be able to reverse this situation, operators must become more innovative and agile in their service packaging. In this situation they cannot be limited by technology or structures. And thus operators must be released from the hardware connection in their networks. That is a prerequisite for creating the faster innovation cycle that operators need. One core solution to the problem can be spelled “network harmonization”, where an abstraction layer is created between the network and the systems above. The major benefits of this approach are twofold:

  • The abstraction layer isolates the overlaying OSS and BSS systems from the network structure. By doing this, the introduction of services is considerably faster as the systems in the OSS/BSS layer do not need to consider how new or changed services are realized in the network.
  • The automation makes network changes in minutes instead of weeks or even months. This is especially valuable in large and complex networks using many network technologies and topologies.

In our next blogpost we will look at another myth that abound – the risks of reforming the network. In our experience, as we shall see, the risks are part of the deep-rooted mythology as there are ways to transform the network, without having to end up in the “big bang” situation.

Packetfront Software automates Icelandic telecom operator Siminn’s network

Síminn, the leading Icelandic telecom and IT services provider, and PacketFront Software, a leading multi-vendor network automation provider, announced today that Síminn has selected PacketFront Software’s BECS and BBE systems to deliver an end-to-end network configuration and service activation solution for their Cisco based MPLS VPN network.

“We are pleased to be able to work with such a professional and forward looking operator as Síminn. The automation of the network and service provisioning not only provides the obvious benefits in time savings, but also other equally important functions, such as configuration error elimination, billing data integrity and fast trouble shooting. The combined benefits ensure a very attractive business case for Síminn”, says Ulf Avrin, CEO PacketFront Software.

“We are impressed by PacketFront Software’s track record in providing automation and
centralization of the network and service activation solutions. We selected the system after a
thorough evaluation and testing process, which further strengthened our belief in the capabilities
and know-how of PacketFront Software. We see great potential in the technology not only for our
MPLS VPN services, but also for many other areas of our network”, says David Gunnarsson, Director of Data Services at Síminn.

Stockholm 2015-03-23

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Obsolete structures in the telecoms industry put a wet blanket over new innovations

Welcome to Packetfront Software’s new blog. Here we will publish regular posts about issues surrounding the telecommunications industry and the business of operators in particular. Our intention is to highlight the many challenges our customers and potential customers face today.

All too often we notice an unwarranted resignation among them to many of the problems facing the industry. One such recurring problem or theme is the energy and focus they are forced to devote to keep their networks up and running manually.

The instant parallel you get is how the auto industry looked like 40 years ago, then with a high degree of manual processes and high dependency on individual skills to handle many routine operations in the production. Today the auto industry has evolved and is now highly automated and will become even more so in the future. The same thing has happened in most other industries, including agriculture.

But in the telecom industry the degree of automation of routine activities are at best rare, at worst non-existent. It forces the operators to put a lot of energy and resources into just keeping their networks up and running. Too much resources. This is reflected in the low number of new services and innovation level in the telecommunications industry. And the new services that are being developed are not coming from the operators themselves, but driven by the over-the-top content (OTT) providers, such as Google and Netflix. Consequently, it is the OTT which in many cases “owns” the customer and thus earn the money.

But this scenario can be changed we believe. In a series of blog posts, we aim to provide you with our views and thoughts on this situation. What problems do we see and how can the power of innovation be returned to the operators again. For without the innovation of new services that can be realized at the rate customers are demanding, the telecommunications industry will end up in a cul-de-sac. A large scale elimination of operators will take place as many of them end up being only bit pipes, constantly struggling with price pressure and increasingly dependent on volumes in order to make a profit.

A major problem that permeates the entire telecom sector today are the many myths that exist. We often encounter these myths in our contact with customers and we will initially focus on the three of the most common ones:

  • “Our network is so complex that it is impossible to automate.”
  • “Changing our network would involve excessive risks”.
  • “The transformation of our network will take a very long time and cost significantly more than it tastes. We simply do not have the time to look over our network right now”.

All these myths are, as we will discover, practical (and mental) barriers to innovation. In our next post, we will develop the context around the myth of network complexity.

PAXIO Inc, announced today Gigabit broadband services to the home

PAXIO’s launch of Gigabit broadband services in Emeryville, California was supported by PacketFront Software who have delivered an end-to-end automated residential solution for Paxio’s network and service management. The solution gives customers the freedom of choosing services from a self-selection portal that deploys the selected services within a few seconds. The network is based on an MX-series BNG solution from Juniper and access switches from Alcatel, all of them being managed by the BECS platform.

BECS, delivered by PacketFront Software, is a multi-vendor Network and Service Management system consisting of resource- and element management and service configuration with full topology awareness, enabling best-in-class automation of service activation and fulfilment. The solution is an easily customizable out-of-the-box system applicable for residential and business networks, such as IP/MPLS VPN services.

“The PacketFront solution gives my customers the ability to manage their own services, for example to increase the bandwidth on demand, without involving any technicians. By automating the network operations and harmonizing the access platform from different vendors with zero-touch deployment I can send out any person from our organization to install the equipment and BECS will automatically configure the elements to provide the right services. With a tool like BECS in our organization I can keep prices aggressive and still provide great value to my customers. The platform is also prepared for open-access, which means that I can open up the network for any service provider or over the top content provider, something that is key today in order to be successful in a very competitive business”, says Philip Clark, CEO at PAXIO Inc.

“It feels great to see Paxio launching their Gigabit services, and I am happy that PacketFront Software has been given the confidence of providing the automated management solution that Paxio was looking for to ensure their continued competitiveness in their market”, says Ulf Avrin, CEO at PacketFront Software.

Stockholm 2014-07-03

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