Spirent retouches InTouch as big data analytics platform, and it’s targeting VoLTE launches

Spirent says VoLTE is driving a "new imperative" within operators to gain a single view of all the factors impacting service quality. Based on its work with a large US operator's VoLTE launch it has launched a revamped network and subscriber data analytics engine to address that need.

Spirent, a company perhaps better known for its test and measurement capabilities, has relaunched a network and customer data analytics tool designed to give operators a single view of customer experience issues.

The revamped product, known as InTouch Customer and Network Analytics (CNA), is essentially a commercialisation of capabilities Spirent developed to support a major US carrier’s* VoLTE rollout, and Spirent very much sees the deployment of VoLTE as the leading initial use case for the platform.

The idea of the analytics platform is to give a clearer view of the actual delivered service, and enable the operator to view that experience segmented by customer (including by revenue), device, network or location.

Ian Herbert-Jones, Spirent’s Head of Service Provider Sales, EMEA, said that VoLTE is “invariably” giving operators a “new imperative” to access end to end analytics to ensure that such a crucial service is delivered correctly. That has led to a refreshed interest in CEM-type solutions that can take data from multiple sources across the operator environment, and understand it as service quality indicators, presenting actions for either technical or customer care teams.

“The reality is that most operators have something in place already, but usually still relying on a plethora of probes, radio planning solutions, customer care apps that are separate and siloed. Though there are some Big Data projects, VoLTE fixes the imperative to try and pull this together into a single view and pane of glass.”

The challenge of measuring and ensuring VoLTE quality

The challenge of measuring and ensuring VoLTE quality

Spirent has had the InTouch platform for some time, but has revamped it to take advantage of new technologies, with its leading application on top of the platform being VoLTE. “Historically we were on an Oracle solution and now we are completely on HP Vertica,” Herbert Jones said. That means the platform can exist in the Big Data environments that operators are starting to build out, or work as a standalone solution, he added.

“What we are trying to do is to have an underlying platform that is very flexible so that we can align with Tier 1 and smaller operators, providing correlating and cleansing data and reporting it in an actionable way.”

Of course, Spirent’s ambition of providing a single view of network and subscriber data that can be acted on by different business departments – so that network technical support act on the same data that customer care teams are seeing – is not in any way unique in the industry.

The likes of Polystar, Empirix, Tektronix Communications, Astellia, Anritsu and others are all trying to crack this network+customer data analytics nut, not to mention the major NEPs themselves. Usually this has been targeted at helping operators form CEM strategies, supported by the introduction of Big Data technology.

Herbert-Jones said that Spirent’s differentiation is that most of these players are also in the business of acquiring the data, via probes, embedded DPI, from network elements themselves and so on. Spirent, on the other hand, is “agnostic from a data source” point of view.

“Even the CEM market,” Herbert-Jones said, “most of it has grown out of a service assurance background with reporting engines aligned with a probing technology.

Another Spirent advantage cited by Herbert-Jones is its ability to benefit from its experience in the device test space. Herbert-Jones cited relationships with Qualcomm, Intel, Samsung and other major handset vendors that give it insight into quality metrics when it comes to the testing of VoLTE and VoWiFi technology stacks.

He added that although Spirent is not the first company you would think of when it comes to analytics, the product is part of a broader move for the company “from lab to live [networks]”.

Spirent InTouch CNA

Spirent InTouch CNA

(* TMN’s best guess is that this means either Verizon or AT&T, these being the two US carriers with large scale VoLTE rollouts to their name)