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Migrating Yesterday's Networks to Tomorrow's Technology
[January 11, 2006]

Migrating Yesterday's Networks to Tomorrow's Technology

By Timothy J. Connelly, Managing Principal, Professional Consulting for Lucent Worldwide Services, Lucent Technologies
 
Tim Connelly will be speaking at two panel discussion at Internet Telephony Conference & Expo: “Migrating to VoIP: A Service Provider Round Table,” on Tuesday, January 24, at 2:00 – 3:45 p.m., and “VoIP: Where We're Going, Where We've Been,” Wednesday, January 25, from 10:15 – 11:00 a.m.
 
Over the past decade, the telecommunications industry has experienced tremendous change.  It seems that the current point in today’s evolution is true convergence – seamless communications, anytime, anywhere, independent of access.  The drive towards convergence is causing more and more carriers and enterprises to seriously consider network migration to a total Internet Protocol (IP) infrastructure. 

 
For carriers, convergence is providing a cost-effective and simplified architecture that can be used to offer consumers new service offerings – like innovative end-user applications and seamless multimedia communications, including voice, data, and video.  These revenue-generating services are becoming even more crucial to a carriers’ survival, especially as consumer demand for new services continues to increase.  An IP-based network also vastly improves the speed at which carriers can launch, deploy, and blend these new services, which not only helps carriers better satisfy their customers, but also differentiates themselves from their competitors. 
 
Enterprises can also reap the benefits of an IP-based network by gaining access to applications – such as seamless roaming, multimedia mail, instant messaging, conferencing, and Web portal-based management -- applications that help increase the productivity of their employees.  As with service providers, enterprises can also expect cost reductions as a result of network simplification.  
 
Behind the Scenes of an IP Migration
 
Today’s carrier networks are a combination of many service-specific networks, such as circuit-switched voice, frame relay, Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM), and IP. In normal environments, carriers can achieve significant cost reductions by migrating from their current service-specific, multi-network architecture to a multi-service converged IP network architecture.
 
A migration, unlike an upgrade, is a process by which subscriber-related processing is transferred from one system supported by the service provider network to another system. The move involves changes to both network and subscriber data.  Any processing related to this data that impacts (or has the potential to impact – directly, or indirectly) the end-user experience must be accounted for in the planning of the migration.  Due to the changes required across all areas of the various purpose-built networks of both service providers and enterprises, we believe this is one of the most fundamental change to the network in the past 50 years.
 
A flawless migration of subscribers from a service provider's existing legacy network to an IP infrastructure is of critical importance to both the operator and customer.  To ensure customers are satisfied, network availability and the continuity of end user services must not be affected at any stage of the migration.  For that reason, carriers must carefully plan their migration and should look to a third-party organization with expertise in both legacy and next generation networks, including significant experience in performing various network migrations and integrations. 
 
Over the past few years Lucent has worked with many of our customers on a variety of network migrations. These projects were completed successfully, without service delays, network downtime or rollbacks to previous systems. 
 
Planning Migration
 
The key to a successful IP migration is planning.  Because carriers have complex networks, migration to IP requires extensive coordination and comprehensive planning across five interrelated dimensions: transport migration, network database migration, protocol migration, Operational Support Systems (OSS) migration and traffic migration. 
 
Migration requirements in each dimension are driven by carrier priorities for consolidation, services and customer migration, and availability of new IP services.  A systematic migration planning process will help carriers set priorities and understand the resultant impact on migration activities across all dimensions. Figure 2 describes the multiple areas in each dimension that must be analyzed and evaluated when planning a migration. In each area, the planning process must consider the network in three different states: the current network, the hybrid state that will exist during the migration, and the end state IP network.
 
Based on inputs from the current network, several planning activities must be performed, and the outputs of these activities form the integrated migration plan. The resultant migration plan will outline key activities, recommend migration tools, and identify customer or other carrier interface development requirements for a smooth and effective migration.
 
As previously noted, an IP migration consists of five interrelated dimensions, as described below:
  1. A detailed transport migration process is essential since capacity requirements during migration typically exceed the current and end-state network capacity requirements.  Carriers must evaluate the IP network design for physical footprints and floor space layout to minimize unnecessary rearrangement of equipment.  As a result of the migration process, carriers may be able to simplify their networks by up to 50% through office consolidations and facility rearrangements.

  2. Careful network database migration is critical in preserving the vast amounts of subscriber information in various Private Branch Exchange (PBX), switch, and Intelligent Network (IN) databases.  The carrier must evaluate this data in the current network and develop mapping techniques for provisioning in the new IP architecture according to constraints or decisions made in other dimensions.  The speed of migration is defined by several factors:  which customers can be migrated based on application availability, the provisioning rate of the current and end state OSS’s, the capability of the transport network to handle new traffic, and the speed of the physical traffic migration.  The use of custom-developed data migration tools can rapidly and accurately extract, manipulate, filter and provision data from current voice network switches to IP architecture elements.

  3. Protocol Migration -- Improving or at a minimum maintaining available services while reducing operating expenses is at the core of migrating service to an IP network.  In the current network, many services are provided over various protocols in the network including Frame Relay, X.25, and additional adjunct intelligent network interfaces. Over time, carriers have developed specialized services that also use these protocols and interfaces.  A protocol migration plan evaluates the on-going need for these services and defines the most effective way to deploy them on the IP network. 

  4. OSS synchronization and migration focuses on how the management systems will operate during the migration and in the end IP state, while remaining synchronized with the network migration. OSS's are the heart of a carrier’s provisioning and maintenance operations.  If they are out of sync with the network, provisioning and repair time intervals will suffer.  OSS data needs to be transformed to support the IP infrastructure, and data from legacy systems may have to be transferred and transformed to a new OSS.  To mitigate the risk of fall-out data that cannot be loaded to the targeted system, the data migration plan should include test runs so that any data cleansing can be done prior to putting the data into a production environment.

  5. Traffic Migration -- Carriers will need to employ a spectrum of traffic migration scenarios to ensure that they can satisfy the needs of all of their end users.  These scenarios may range from flash cutover or group cutover, where an entire switch or subscriber area are moved at once, to single line “live” migration, that involves the services of a single subscriber. To move subscribers onto the IP network, carriers must identify network migration points and migration sequencing based on network design and migration priorities. Depending on the migration points, various tools can be used to automate the migration, reducing the risk of service outage and shortening the migration interval. In addition, full end-to-end coordination of the vast number of vendors supplying elements and support systems for the IP network is required for a smooth migration.
In summary, current market pressures, new technology requirements and increased customer demand for innovative applications are forcing carriers and many enterprises to migrate to an IP infrastructure.  This crucial network migration not only helps a service provider lower costs, raises customer satisfaction and enables the future delivery of enhanced services, but it also helps the carrier stay competitive in the market.  However, because the migration process is so complex, the time, money and resources needed to make a successful transition can be daunting.  To maximize the benefits and make the transition smoother, service providers and enterprises maybe best served by seeking out the expertise of a third party company that is skilled in IP migration. 
 
Activities in Migration Planning
 
As a Managing Principal for the Lucent Worldwide Services (LWS) Professional Services group, Tim Connelly advises service providers worldwide on the networking technologies and services that shape today’s converged networks.  In this capacity, Connelly draws on almost twenty years of experience driving large-scale network deployments and migrations, including time spent migrating legacy Time Division Multiplexing (TDM) networks and, later, data networks to next-generation IP infrastructures. 
 
Connelly began his telecommunications career in 1984, when he joined AT&T Bell Laboratories as part of their fiber optics research and development team. During his tenure with AT&T, Connelly held several positions with increasing responsibility in systems engineering, revenue and profitability forecasting, and technical management. When Lucent split from AT&T, Connelly was supporting teams of up to 55 engineers responsible for designing and integrating multi-vendor networking environments for Lucent’s Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC) customers. Over the next several years, Connelly continued to focus on the global network integration challenges posed by multivendor, multi-protocol networking environments.
 
Recently, Connelly shared some of his experiences migrating networks to next-generation IP at the 2005 Creating Value through True Convergence Conference, held in Hilversum, Netherlands; USTA Telecom Engineering Conference at SuperComm 2005 in Chicago, Illinois; the Capacity USA 2005 in New York, New York; and the 2005 Communication Service Summit in Shanghai, China.
 
Connelly holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology.
 
 

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