PacketFront Software automates Accessbolaget’s MPLS network

Accessbolaget AB, a new Swedish nationwide wholesale access network provider, has selected PacketFront Software’s BECS and BBE systems to deliver an end-to-end network configuration and service activation solution for their Juniper and Adva based MPLS VPN network. The solution is delivered by NetNordic, PacketFront Software’s Nordic partner.

“Accessbolaget has brought something completely new and innovative to the Swedish telecom market, providing independent Carrier Ethernet capacity services in cooperation with the widespread city networks. It has previously been very difficult for operators to utilize these city networks efficiently due to lack of single interface and infrastructure, something that Accessbolaget has brought to the market. We are excited to be a part of this game changing event”, says Jan Kettnaker, CEO PacketFront Software.

“We selected the system after a thorough evaluation process. We chose BECS and BBE due to the purpose-build product, which gave us an off-the-shelf solution. At the same time the high scripting capabilities on top of the base product gave us a possibility to achieve a solution that is tailored for our specific requirements”, says Jan Werne, CEO at Accessbolaget.

Developer: PacketFront Software is recruiting

Title: Developer
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 the 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 Developer to strengthen the R&D team. The position is a key role in the company to continuously improve PacketFront Software’s products in order to increase the value delivered to PacketFront Software’s customers. Based in the company offices in Stockholm, Sweden, the successful candidate will work in close cooperation with our R&D team in China as well as with sales and sales engineering team in Stockholm.

For this position, we require that you meet the following qualifications:

  • Approximately 10 years of programming experience, either from a similar professional role and/or from other activities (C, Shell, TCL, Perl)
  • Passion for solution design
  • Experience from agile development environments
  • Broadband/datacom topologies and technologies (e.g., Ethernet, PON, xDSL) and products
  • Application of systems integration frameworks and tools
  • Database knowledge
  • Structured work methodology and application of solid project management practices

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 Netconf and Yang protocols
  • Experience from systems integration
  • Experience from project management

Personal capabilities:

  • You are already a resident in Sweden
  • You are fluent in English, both spoken and in writing
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Quick learner with a structured approach and analytical skills.
  • You are creative, but also a Finisher delivering to commitments made
  • “Can Do” personality with a strong urge to close action points
  • Team player

Responsibilities:

  • Participate in the agile development of the OSS and BSS applications BECS and BBE as a member of the R&D team
  • Participate in feature definition and design activities
  • Manage own relations with partners
  • Independent management and execution of delivery projects
  • Creation and delivery of presentations, workshops, demos and proposal documentation, etc.
  • Execute customer lab and field tests, as well as customer pilots
  • Drive local technical market requirements within PacketFront Software

Please send your CV and an introduction letter to jobs@pfsw.com.
For more information about the position, call Henrik Johansson, +46 73 914 91 71

The dependency of one supplier…

Traditionally, operators have built the solutions needed to manage their networks themselves. Usually ad hoc and with focus on “solving the present problem” rather than fulfilling requirements for long term functionality or documentation, or considering future cost structure. The result is that the networks are not fully transparent and a dependency on a particular hardware provider is often created because of reluctance to bring in new vendors due to fear of negative consequences. A cumbersome approach that nevertheless has worked so far.

However, the maintenance of this hard-coded environment tends to be very time consuming and costly, as any changes in e.g. hardware, service portfolio or integration with other systems becomes more complex over time. System changes also become dependent on specific individuals meaning that operators become more vulnerable.

To change this way of working through harmonization and automation of the network via a third-party software, would be an effective solution. But, the realization of this has often failed due to two persistent myths:

Costs – On paper it looks more expensive for operators to take this step than to continue as before, as the costs for the already employed dedicated staff are rarely included in the calculation. Also the inefficiency of the current solutions affect many parts of the organizations and not only the teams responsible for the network management. These costs are usually not considered either.

Dependency – It is understandable that operators can see a potential problem in replacing one dependency (hardware) with another (software).

But myths aside, the arguments for network automation are several:

  • The value of harmonizing. In manually controlled environments, the knowledge of the network details decrease over time and is also usually distributed among several people and systems. The network harmonization allows you to abstract and simplify, enabling full control and overview of the network, including capacity and resources you have available.
  • Business development. By automating routine tasks the dedicated staff can be released for business development rather than working with pure maintenance. So the effect is two-fold: Cutting operational costs means releasing the innovative power of the organization.
  • Greater negotiating power. Network harmonization reduces the dependency of a particular hardware supplier. For an operator this means greater negotiating power in procurement. Also internal processes do not need to be based on a particular hardware type, but can easily be adjusted as the requirements change.
  • Simplified roles at the operator. In the hard-coded environment, product management is often a kind of a “hostage” in the organization. They are expected to solve what sales promised to customers, but are limited to what Network Operations can deliver, and even more so when the network is poorly documented. The time is ticking at all organizational levels.
  • Customer Service. How do you value good customer service and customer satisfaction? What is it worth to be able to promise customers delivery of new services in minutes instead of days? You could think that harmonization is contradictory to flexibility. This is however not a correct assumption. Instead it enables a fast and flexible environment for delivering new services.

 

So, with a third-party software, such as BECS, there will be structure, flexibility and capability to introduce new services faster. To take the steps needed in order to achieve these benefits may seem overwhelming, not least in terms of practical procedures, but also through the barriers in the organization as third-party software will manage tasks that technicians so magically have solved earlier. And, not least, to take the step may also be hampered by a sort of catch-22 thinking – “We do not have time to look in to this at the moment because of the existing workload”.

However, the long term effects are far greater than the temporary increase in workload. And you do not need to do everything at once. In short this means that it is better to begin the harmonization now, if only by taking small steps at a time. With a harmonization already in progress, the implementation of SDN will be a lot easier.

And finally, the issue of dependency: We dare to claim that a third-party software is easy to replace compared to a manually managed network due to the full harmonization and documentation available, allowing an easy move to a new tool if the need should arise in the future.

Discrepancy between the ideal and the real

Among the operators, there is a discussion about how to design networks in the future. The discussion stems from the fact that the rollout of new services is too sluggish and expensive. This is problematic at a time when the fight for customers is becoming increasingly sharp. There is a consensus among operators that network and service orchestration is necessary in order to reduce OPEX. However, there is some disagreement about the best way to get there. Automating bit by bit, how far and all at once or maybe “wait and see” until we have more knowledge?

The wait and see policy among many operators is not so difficult to understand. First and foremost a standardization work is progressing in ETSI. Secondly, operators are often busy trying to keep up with the manual work required in the networks today.

The standardization work of ETSI describes a logical future and implicate that much of the intelligence is transferred from distributed hardware to data centers. The new generation of hardware has limited functionality and will become highly standardized. This offers evident advantages as the cost of hardware is significantly reduced. At the same time, the concept provides increasing flexibility in capacity utilization. Operators can for example rapidly strengthen the capacity temporarily for mobile communication at a packed stadium without a need to have this capacity available all the time. However, to reach the goals that this future is describing will take time.

ETSI’s “rosy standardization image” implicate that telecommunications networks are virtualized in a similar manner as data centers are today. Simple hardware utilized by software that is more sophisticated. New features and services can therefore quickly be implemented via software.

The gap between today and the new future that ETSI is working on is wide and will take time to realize. Nevertheless, it will happen and the good news is – operators do not have to wait for this new future to materialize. It is possible to begin the network automation journey now without being locked in on a path that could later turn out to prevent the work ETSI is undertaking.

IT vendors are interested in supporting this new development, so the future is bright around NFV. The pragmatic way to proceed is to choose a solution (such as BECS by PacketFront Software) that structure and automates networks based on the conditions that apply today. It provides operators both full control of the network and a hardware-independent environment enabling many of the SDN and NFV benefits already now.

Whatever conclusions ETSI later draws, the solution is future-proof as it already follows the ETSI standardization structure and is flexible to cope with the required fine-tuning as the standardization matures.

However, friends of order might object and think, “Hey, wait a minute. Doesn’t that mean that you would be dependent on a software vendor instead of a hardware vendor”?

This is the question we will look at in the next post.

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