Improving and Optimizing Mobile Networks

Accedian Networks

Based in Montreal, Accedian Networks has become a leader in networking services and solutions for mobile backhaul, business services and cloud connectivity. Accedian has developed solutions that deliver the most precise network performance measurements, data traffic management and optimization capabilities that provide communications service providers (CSPs) with end-to-end network performance visibility. This gives clients the ability to optimize, improve, and manage the performance of their networks and provide the best experience for their subscribers on a real-time basis.

Accedian Networks got its start in 2004 and has since delivered services to over 100,000 cell sites, with 150,000 platforms deployed throughout the world. The company also has offices in Dublin, London, Singapore, São Paulo and Stockholm. As the business has grown over the last decade, the team is transforming from its roots as a network device vendor to becoming a true solution provider for its clients.

President and CEO, Patrick Ostiguy, spoke about how Accedian is working to become the network performance specialist, a solutions provider to help operators deploy, maintain and optimize large-scale network connections.

“Accedian’s initial focus was about creating a market shift in the way customer premise equipment was designed,” Mr. Ostiguy explains. “From creation to delivery, our target is assuring the performance of services. We were a pioneer driving this shift and have had a great amount of success.”

Accedian Networks has expanded its product portfolio accordingly, and can now meet a diverse range of client needs. “We went from a box vendor to an overall solution provider,” shares Mr. Ostiguy. “We widened our market geographically and economically, and that is what is fuelling our growth.”

The company’s portfolio includes a vast array of services and solutions. Its mobile backhaul assurance solutions are designed to address the increase in data traffic from mobile networks as consumers increasingly use their mobile devices for information, business and entertainment purposes. The solutions are designed to meet the demands of mobile operators who are looking to increase the size of their networks and modernize them to carry traffic from cell towers to the fibre-based core transport network.

“It’s a matter of having solutions that can go deep and wide into networks that are made from devices from multiple vendors,” says Mr. Ostiguy. “Beyond that, our solutions are unique in their scalability, accuracy, [being] 100 percent programmable and reporting quality of service (QoS) in real-time.”

The growth in the demand for data has engendered an industry-wide push to modernize the networks that carry this information. For several years, Accedian has been working with providers upgrading mobile backhaul connections from traditional TDM digital lines to Gigabit Ethernet services, while assuring performance meets the demands of the latest mobile protocols and applications.

Large enterprises have also shifted to fast Ethernet connections. Accedian provides solutions that efficiently allow deployment of premium, quality-assured services that exceed even the most stringent Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for businesses. Accedian’s business services offering includes complete end-to-end solutions that provide the flexibility clients need to modernize their networks. Accedian’s solutions offer significant operational efficiency over traditional service deployment techniques, which normally require an onsite technician to install, test and validate service performance for each line installed. Accedian’s solutions include integrated activation testing and reporting, greatly reducing the need for ‘truck rolls’ and onsite troubleshooting.

Accedian Networks also offers performance monitoring solutions for the cloud computing ecosystem. As businesses shift from local servers to hosted, cloud-based servers in datacentres, connections to these data centres become performance-critical. The technology required to execute this can be quite complex and challenging, leading to – at times – unpredictable network performance. Accedian uses Ethernet WAN links provisioned through its own Ethernet connection that acts as an extension of the cloud to provide consistency and optimal performance. This empowers service providers to efficiently deploy, manage and maintain premium SLA-backed services with end-to-end application performance and enable the delivery of real-time service quality reporting. These assured connections are in high demand for transactional services such as finance, trading, commodities, auctions and other services that rely on real-time information.

As financial services are a unique sector, Accedian has developed the FS performance element to deliver accurate measurements of micro-bursts that can affect automated trading, capacity utilization, packet loss testing metrics and more. This approach allows the solution to deliver key data points at a lower cost and makes it affordable and scalable for companies to deploy full monitoring capabilities throughout international trading networks.

Accedian also specializes in mobile small cell technology. These low-power, short-range cellular antennas have emerged as a technology of choice to improve mobile network coverage and capacity. These radio nodes and access points help to improve reception and coverage for mobile service customers. Small cells are being deployed worldwide to ensure a positive and consistent experience for end-users.

“We have invested in virtualizing our monitoring solutions to cost-effectively address this market, where dozens of small cells normally expand the range of a single macro-cell tower,” explains Mr. Ostiguy. “As operators are deploying more of these to increase network coverage and increase download speeds, Accedian enables them to maintain control and performance of their network, despite the rapid growth of access points in their network.”

This diverse array of specialties and services ensures that Accedian is flexible and can weather the economic uncertainties that can be common in the technology industry. “We are a company that has the broadest set of solutions for performance assurance,” Mr. Ostiguy shares. “Our focus is on multi-vendor networks and assuring performance end-to-end for our clients. We have the broadest portfolio for pervasive visibility; when one sector lags, we have others to compensate. Since ups and downs are common in our industry, having a diverse range of services provides good fundamentals for our growth.”

Indeed, Accedian Networks’ growth has largely been fuelled by its principles of providing solutions that are customer-focused and by observing trends rather than marketing hype. “It can be easy to get distracted,” says Mr. Ostiguy. “We pride ourselves on focusing on our customers, broadening our skill set, and having the agility to follow customer trends so we can adjust rapidly when there are changes. The boldness of going outside our comfort zone [in terms of geography, or customer base] has allowed us to grow from starting small toward servicing large tier-one service providers.”

There have been a few challenges and opportunities that the company has had to face as the telecom and mobile industries continue to evolve. Mr. Ostiguy cites how Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) are becoming major factors in the industry and how that directly affects Accedian Networks.

“NFV and SDN are about to change how networks are architected and managed. These changes are creating uncertainty, and creating a lot of performance issues. As with any network evolution, a lot of adjustments [must be] made along the way, so there is a huge need for performance assurance. When services are chained end-to-end over large scale networks, there is an even bigger need to carefully monitor performance.”

Mr. Ostiguy says these changes provide opportunities for the company to grow. “NFV is one of many virtualized functions running in data centres. By leveraging a layer of instrumentation, running in network equipment and implanted in miniaturized devices, there is a great amount of growth potential for the company in this segment. All of the interconnections that used to connect remote branches, migration to data centres and cloud networks are revamping WAN architectures and fuelling demand for our products.”

Accedian Networks has recently made inroads into the international market, which has created another source of growth for the company. “We’re very proud of our international expansion over the last few years,” Mr. Ostiguy says. “We’ve grown from being a North America-centric company to becoming a broader-reaching company. We recently brought in a portfolio of important tier-one service providers from international companies. It took investment to make it happen, but we have enjoyed market share gains and have become a worldwide leader in network performance assurance.”

Future plans for the company include continuing its focus on performance assurance and evolving into performance optimization. “We’re taking all the metrics we have and leveraging them to provide dynamic performance optimization. As networks become more intelligent, we are staying ahead of the trends to provide pervasive visibility and dynamic adaptability for them.”

For the past decade, Accedian Networks has continued to evolve to meet the networking demands and needs of diverse businesses. Mr. Ostiguy says the company’s future is likely to be bright, as it will stick to its principles and provide financially friendly solutions.

“We’ve always been conservative from a cost-effectiveness perspective,” he says. “Prudent growth has allowed us to withstand various market crashes and economic ups and downs. We have survived two recessions despite the fact that we’re a nimble and emerging company. It’s a testament to our ability to spend wisely and we will continue to do so.

“By maintaining open communication with our employees and following customer requests, we are able to keep a close watch on the heartbeat of our customers and use that input for our product development. With a diverse customer base and product line, Accedian has solutions monitoring many of the connections used to communicate every day, whether they are mobile, wired, or hosted. We’re there to make sure these connections are more efficient and optimized for performance, and have the best possible reliability.”

Accedian will be speaking and performing product demonstrations at the upcoming SCTE Cable-Tec Expo in Denver, CO Sept 22-25; Layer 123 SDN & Openflow event Oct 14-17 in Dusseldorf, as well as a joint demonstration with new partners at the Small Cells America event in Dallas Dec 1-3 2014.