A driver for automation

Earlier this month, our VP of Sales Timo Kuusela, was interviewed by Comms Dealer about how PacketFront Software is successfully orchestrating and automating the UK’s ‘manual’ networks and processes.

Read part of the article here:

PacketFront Software was established in 2011 as a spin-off from PacketFront Solutions which sold both hardware and software products. The idea was to create two independent companies to give the software side a better opportunity as a multi-vendor solution. “We found that having our own hardware made it difficult to cooperate with other hardware vendors so forced the separation to focus on the core business – software,” said Kuusela. “The objective was, and is, to offer network orchestration and CRM solutions to altnets.”

The first major task was to build an independent software business within the altnet market space and prove that it could work with other hardware, while maintaining its existing customer base. “The second was broadening our portfolio to support carriers,” noted Kuusela. “Services in the residential altnet market are quite straightforward – you’re selling Internet. In the carrier space services are much more complex. The third milestone was attracting Tier1 and Tier2 carriers as customers. Many of the bigger carriers still do a lot of manual work. So we want to show how they can avoid tasks like CLI typing and focus on system architecture to give better services.”

For altnet customers, PacketFront Software provides more complete solutions including self-service portals for end customers, CRM systems and network orchestration. Those components create an end-to-end solution that delivers automated workflows for customer and service management. “When it comes to carriers we mainly focus on network orchestration,” commented Kuusela. “Our BECS solution provides auto provisioning from customer devices all the way to their core network. By integrating BECS with CRM systems, operators can create workflows that, for example, allow for zero-touch network build out and automated service provisioning.”

PacketFront Software’s main focus is Europe with the Nordics its primary market. “Now the UK and Germany are great markets for us to expand into,” stated Kuusela. “We have a market presence in both but there’s a lot of potential as they are large markets behind the Nordics in their FTTP roll out.

“In the UK we also see a trend towards open access. Altnets are interested in opening up their networks to other service providers. This has been the dominant model in the Nordics, and PacketFront has been the pioneer supporting that business model from the very start, which we now want to utilise in UK markets.”

The automation challenge

The main challenge Kuusela faces is the slowness of transformation. “We hear so many customers say ‘we need automation’ but never actually get started with it,” he said. “In the past, when we researched altnet and carrier markets and asked if they need automation and network orchestration there was resistance on both fronts. While both were interested on a theoretical level, operators were hesitant to change their existing working methods. But network orchestration has become mainstream which means we now don’t have to drive those motivations.

Another challenge faced by the company has been how fast it can scale while accounting for the diversity of how operators build their networks, and the number of software and hardware vendors it needs to integrate. “Every new customer has meant creating a unique environment,” added Kuusela. “However, we have proven over and over again that we get our solution to work in any environment.

Kuusela’s primary growth strategy is to work with more system integrators and technology partners that complement PacketFront Software’s portfolio. He is also looking for new technology partners to expand the firm’s ecosystem. “This will help customers and system integrators as we can show how systems work together and the combined benefits,” he added.

“Customers need flexibility – from a commercial and technology point of view – to select the best of breed software and hardware and we provide that. We have workshops with our customers to identify their pain points and low hanging fruit, where we can provide the fastest benefits. Then we help with implementation. All our customers’ networks are different and we adapt our solutions to work in the existing network environment which is also where we support operators when they need us.”

Final thoughts

“Everybody is looking at investing in network automation in some way or other because they can see the benefits it brings. For those dragging their heels, my advice would be to ride the wave soon or expect tougher times moving forward, because you won’t be as competitive in a couple of years.”

You can read the full version of this article on comms dealer. [link]

Join us in welcoming Jonas to PacketFront!

Jonas Ohlsson has been appointed as new CTO of PacketFront Software. Jonas has 20 years of industry experience after working at companies, such as Nokia, Tieto and NetInsight. Besides his technical expertise, he has extensive management experience, which will be valuable in his role as head of R&D and the support teams.
“I’m really happy to get Jonas onboard. His deep knowledge of the technology and IT market in general is a boost for the whole company and an important cornerstone in our expansion strategy” says Christel Sandstedt, interim CEO of PacketFront Software.

BECS 3.18 is released

The latest BECS release is now available for existing customers at www.pfsw.com/support.

@focus in this release is usability and performance. The main features include:

On-demand initial parsing

  • Adding flexibility regarding when in time the initial parsing exercise is carried out after an element manager connects to the element

Dedicated GDR connections

  • Some connections between the Element Manager and the element will be dedicated to fetching troubleshooting info, so that this info can be obtained quicker if the element manager is busy configuring the element.

Visualize Element Config Mode

  • The element configuration mode, i.e. read-only, full-control etc, is illustrated by a badge on the element icon in the topology view making it easier to determine which elements are currently controlled by BECS.

Improved Element State Display

  • Specific indication in the BECS GUI that an element is in the state of initial parsing.

Stateful Logging

•Introducing object states, which makes it easier to get an overview of the system health. For example, it is easy to see which objects are currently in an erroneous state, and which ones have been recently resolved.

BBE 2.5.0 is released

The latest BBE release is now available for existing customers at www.pfsw.com/support.

Major changes in the release:

  • Java application uses WildFly instead of GlassFish
  • Improvements to inventory and subscription management
  • Improvements to trouble shooting of GPON customers
  • Improvements to report management

Meet us at FTTH Conference 2020 in Berlin

It’s soon time for the yearly FTTH Council event again. Meet us 21-23 of April in Berlin and discover the latest news about PacketFront network automation.

Find more information about the event at: http://www.ftthconference.eu/

BBE 2.4.0 and BECS 3.17 Released

Latest BBE and BECS releases are now available for existing customers at www.pfsw.com/support. Highlights of the releases include following features:

BBE 2.4.0 Release

  • Support for ON-API 2.4
  • Support for OpenJDK

BECS 3.17

  •  Automatic CLOB creation – BECS users can synchronize configuration from network elements, which helps in automation of manually created configuration
  • Python support – A new script engine supporting Python as a complement to the Tcl script engine

  

PacketFront Software Joined State Visit In Ireland

His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia did a State Visit to Ireland on 22–24 May 2019 at the invitation of President Michael D. Higgins. The Government was represented by Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström, Minister for Energy and Digital Development Anders Ygeman, and Maja Fjaestad, State Secretary to Minister for Health and Social Affairs Lena Hallengren.

PacketFront Software participated in an associated business delegation arranged by Business Sweden.

A Digital Infrastructure summit 2019 was arranged in conjunction with the State Visit at Ericsson´s R&D site in Athlone, where among other PacketFront Software’s BECS and BBE products were highlighted in the context of how City Carriers have successfully contributed to the fiber rollout in Sweden.

Nordix Foundation to advance innovation on open source across the Nordics

Stockholm – Today Nordix Foundation is announced, a Nordic open source foundation with the objective to enable more companies and organizations in the region to leverage open source across entire digital environments. Nordix Foundation will provide an open source network for sharing of knowledge, expertise, training and code.

The foundation is established as a direct response to corporations and organizations expressing a need to increase their knowledge about open source innovation in order to enhance their abilities to successfully use and develop open source projects in their digital transformations.

Founding members of the organization, that in the spirit of open source will be a non-profit and democratic organization, are some of the leading forces within open source in the Nordic countries including; Ericsson, a world leader in in communication technology, infrastructure cloud provider City Network, Blekinge Institute of Technology (BTH), IT Monitoring Software Solutions company OP5 and PacketFront Software, maker of network orchestration software.

“In order to innovate the best applications and run it on a flexible and scalable platform, companies across the Nordic region are increasingly leveraging open source. At the same time, many organizations are still hesitant to go the open way because of lack of knowledge and support. With Nordix Foundation, we want to address these issues and enable Nordic companies to take the same advantages as organizations in the US and Asia where open source is a natural part in all innovation”, says Johan Christenson, founding member of Nordix Foundation and CEO of City Network.

“Across the Nordics, we have some extremely talented developers and there are many examples of innovative companies disrupting business models and creating new large corporations. Establishing Nordix Foundation to further this innovation and enable the acceleration of new technologies at a global scale is important for our region”, says Christopher Price, founding member of Nordix Foundation and President at Ericsson Software Technology.

The program and specific initiatives that Nordix Foundation will focus on will be agreed upon by participating members where the foundation acts as a framework providing the international connection to other open source organizations, webinars, events and meetings.

For more information about Nordix Foundation, please visit www.nordix.org.

Contact

Johan Christenson, founding member of Nordix and CEO of City Network
johan@citynetwork.se

Christopher Price, founding member of Nordix and President at Ericsson Software Technology
christopher.price@est.tech

press@nordix.org