Swisscom adds to managed WAN services lineup

* Telecom provider taps Ipanema Technologies for WAN optimization gear

For companies that don't want to purchase, deploy and manage WAN optimization gear on their own, managed WAN services can provide a welcome alternative.

Telecom providers such as AT&T, British Telecom, Orange Business Services, Verizon Business and others have been ramping up their managed service offerings to include application acceleration and network optimization products.

Industry analysts say the benefits of going with a managed service for WAN optimization can include reduced start-up costs, faster deployments, and the chance to avoid configuration hassles (since the service provider does the installation work). 

This month Swisscom Corporate Business got into the fray, launching a new service designed to help business customers manage the performance of their applications running over the wide area. The Swiss telecom provider’s new Application Performance Management (APM) service includes consulting and management services to establish what kinds of application performance issues an enterprise needs help addressing.

Swisscom is using technology from Ipanema Technologies to deliver its APM service. For Swisscom, the Ipanema technology enables it to offer application-centric service-level agreements (SLA). Customers can set specific performance targets for applications, based on business objectives, and prioritize each accordingly, says Reto Bleuer, senior product manager at Swisscom.

Simply increasing bandwidth isn’t a reasonable approach to application performance issues. “It’s not all about bandwidth. We all know there are physical limitations,” Bleuer says.

To get started with each customer, Swisscom first measures network performance, traffic patterns, application types and utilization rates, for instance.

On the deployment front, Swisscom takes care of installing and configuring the customer premises equipment from Ipanema and works with customers to define application performance objectives (what constitutes acceptable delay, jitter, packet loss and allocated bandwidth per application, for example). “With our service, we provide everything for a fix price per month,” Bleuer says. Companies don’t have to worry about equipment installation or release maintenance, he adds.

Once underway, Swisscom continues to monitor and report on application and network conditions. Customers, too, can use Swisscom’s Web tools to see how traffic is performing or what’s happening on the network, Bleuer says. But so far they can’t adjust on their own how bandwidth is allocated, for example. Down the road, however, Swisscom expects to give more control to customers, he says.

The APM service is deployed atop Swisscom’s existing IP VPN network. It’s available today in Switzerland. Swisscom plans to expand availability throughout Europe next and, if successful, to the U.S., Bleuer says.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.