• United States

WorldCom touts real-time apps monitoring

Jan 27, 20034 mins

CLINTON, MISS. – WorldCom is offering enhancements to its Private IP service that lets users set up application-specific monitoring and view VPN performance statistics in real time.

Called Private IP Platinum, the service lets WorldCom’s Multi-protocol Label Switching (MPLS) IP VPN users better track network performance by monitoring not only network availability, latency and packet loss, but also specific application performance.

“Carriers seem to be realizing that they need to not just offer VPN service, but also offer tools that help customers monitor these networks,” says Steven Harris, an analyst at IDC. “These types of tools will let customers keep a better eye on their carrier to be sure it is living up to its guarantees.”

WorldCom’s standard Private IP offers four classes of service using the Internet Engineering Task Force’s Differentiated Services (Diff-Serv) specification. The enhancements lets users track the usage and performance of specific applications in these four classes.

Diff-Serv is used to tag specific packets for prioritization over a customer’s VPN. The tagged packets inform the routers and switches at what priority level the packets should be delivered, says Audrey Wells, senior manager VPN and data services at WorldCom.

Customers decide how they want to divide their traffic among the classes, but a typical setup would put all voice traffic into the first level of service, Citrix and SAP traffic into the second level, e-mail into the third level and HTTP traffic into the fourth level.

While class-of-service support is not new for Private IP customers, the ability to verify that WorldCom is adhering to the Diff-Serv tags customers assign to prioritize their traffic is new with this enhancement.

“Many users say they would be interested in class-of-service support, but they don’t like the fact that they can’t see if the carrier is delivering the service as promised,” Harris says. “Allowing users to track individual applications will offer an additional level of confidence.”

Private IP Platinum

WorldCom is launching a new version of its MPLS frame relay service. Features include:
Prioritization based on protocol type.
Real-time and historical bandwidth-utilization statistics.
Service-level agreement verification.
Ability to view network by appli- cation, port, IP address, specific user or circuit.

With the Private IP Platinum service users can track performance of an SAP application “between two cities or over a specific tunnel across the entire VPN,” Wells says.

The upgraded service also lets users view typical performance statistics that can be used to verify service-level agreements. The system also monitors network availability, packet loss and latency across the VPN. Network administrators also will be able to see if a particular user or application hogs network resources at a certain time of day or week, Wells says.

The carrier uses Visual Networks gear at each site on a customer’s VPN to gather performance data, which is sent to a central repository stored at WorldCom’s Cary, N.C., network operating center.

Performance details, such as network availability, bandwidth usage and packet loss, can be viewed in real time. Customers can view all their Private IP Platinum statistics at the carrier’s customer portal site, called WorldCom Customer Center. The system also lets users create daily, weekly or monthly reports.

Despite its bankruptcy and new management, WorldCom is trying to keep up with competitors. But it is not the first carrier to offer this feature. Sprint announced monitoring enhancements in September for its managed frame relay and ATM customers based on Visual gear. But Sprint’s service doesn’t offer specific application monitoring.

Equant last month launched a service more similar to WorldCom’s that is based on gear from Compuware. Equant’s service, called Application Visualizer, is available to its IP VPN, frame relay and ATM customers. Equant’s system uses probes throughout customer networks to report on 2,900 off-the-shelf applications and is available around the world.

The WorldCom service is available for $110 per dedicated site on top of a customer’s typical service fees. The price includes equipment, upgrades, maintenance and monitoring.