Service providers have stringent requirements that mandate keeping a close eye on their networks, for a number of reasons:
- Revenue assurance. Business processes that serve to protect incoming revenue to the service provider, such as credit checking, customer selection, invoice management, and so on.
- Cost management. Containment of costs is particularly vital in today’s provider environment. Reducing operational and capital costs is high on the agenda here, and so is supply deals with other providers.
- Supply chain protection. The competitive provider landscape requires that network assets be utilized as fully as possible. If provider X leases some bandwidth from provider Y for Z dollars per month, then X must exploit the bandwidth to recoup this cost.
- Assuring availability and service level agreements. Given the huge reliance on service provider networking, the key area of availability is never far from the minds of designers! Recent Internet outages show that this problem is far from solved. A normal part of service level agreements is some availability metric—as we’ve seen, if the metric is not fulfilled, then the provider must supply service credits.
These issues dip into the business processes of service providers and illustrate the way in which different staff in the service provider view the network assets. Suffice it to say that service providers employ lots of people and software to address the above requirements.