BSS (inc. billing, revenue assurance)

Cyan Targets Usage-Based Ethernet

Cyan Inc. is moving closer to usage-based billing on its Z-series packet-optical systems.

The EthernetFLEX capability, announced Monday, includes control-plane software to track a customer's bandwidth usage. That's a key to service providers creating new billing options -- things like charging for the occasional burst of bandwidth above the committed information rate (CIR).

Cyan also says it can give end users real-time reports on their bandwidth utilization, through its CyPortal software. One new enhancement there is the ability to see which applications are causing traffic to spike. Eventually, Cyan might let users bless certain important applications with carte blanche to exceed the CIR -- with a corresponding boost in billing, of course.

Cyan is discussing the enhancements at the Comptel Plus and Ethernet Europe shows this week, but all the pieces won't be available until June, says Frank Wiener, vice president of marketing.

Why this matters
Creative billing models (and we mean "creative" in a good way) are one of those things the industry has talked about for a long time but hasn't gotten around to doing in an automated fashion. Cyan, which has been putting a lot of work into control-plane enhancements, is taking a first step toward putting these ideas into production networks.

Cyan has set up CyPortal with an application programming interface (API) for billing systems to tap, which would be a key step in making all this useful.

For more
Other recent bits from the Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) realm:

— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:36:20 PM
re: Cyan Targets Usage-Based Ethernet


Two things:

1 - Enterprises will want the ability to confirm the carrier's billing.  The more dynamic it is the harder it is to do so.  You are not going to just accept the carrier's numbers.

2 - The whole point for the carrier will be to oversell bandwidth.  The question remains does this oversale complicate things enough to create a net profit?




Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 5:36:20 PM
re: Cyan Targets Usage-Based Ethernet

I've been assuming this kind of billing will end up being the norm for enterprises, with all the billing fully automated.

So -- what am I missing? What's the downside to that scenario?

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 5:36:17 PM
re: Cyan Targets Usage-Based Ethernet

Thanks, Seven. I agree that the enterprise will want to verify billing. That's why an important part of any kind of implementation like this will be the customer portal -- giving them a way to monitor usage. (Carriers also see that as a chance to upsell an enterprise: Look at these charts! Don't you think you're ready to move up to x Mbit/s?)

Regarding the second point, it's going to depend on the carrier. Verizon's Stu Elby is talking up a situation where enterprises want a usage-based connection into the cloud. That's an alternative to selling them a bigger pipe, but Verizon is willing to go along with it -- maybe because the math works out favorably anyway, I don't know.

Verizon example is in this story: http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=219843

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:36:16 PM
re: Cyan Targets Usage-Based Ethernet



I think you miss my point.  I think Enterprises will have their own equipment/monitoring to dispute the carriers.  The portal is nice but why would you believe the carrier?  He is going to have data to back up his bill.  You will want your own setup to do it.  This is not a new concept.  Even back in the leased line modem days we provided software to enterprises to monitor line conditioning to show that the carriers were not meeting their promises.

That is why I ask about the net profit.  The theory is good but if the disputes and measurements get complex then it is not worth the bother.  I know carriers are always interested in this stuff from a theoretical standpoing (see Stu Elby).  Whether it becomes practical is a whole separate matter.  That is where the actual thinking comes in at a vendor.  The carriers will show interest in 50 things all of which COULD make some sense.  How many do they actually do?  2 - 3.  The beauty is the Sales guys always have "traction" on the rest.


Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 5:35:57 PM
re: Cyan Targets Usage-Based Ethernet

Ah, I see. You're right, seven, i wasn't thinking of that. Thanks.

Regarding your second point, about things the carriers like in theory -- you're right, and that's been a problem for vendors for a long time. With this cycle, though, the claim is that the push is coming from end users. They've learned that the carriers *ought* to be able to do certain things and have started asking -- thus indirectly asking for SDN.

That's the claim that carriers and some equipment vendors are making, anyway. Whether it will yield any better results -- well, if we knew that, it would take away all the fun, wouldn't it.

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:35:54 PM
re: Cyan Targets Usage-Based Ethernet


I have a lot of skepticism about SDN.  Again, the claim of end users asking for it seems unlikely.

What seems more likely is that end users are asking for capability that could be implemented using SDN technology.  It could probably be implemented with a Policy Manager and SOAP interfaces as well.  One of the challenges is that if you are not in the old business then it is your job to declare the new business the way to go.  Carriers are much more neutral.  They basically declare support for EVERYTHING in the vendor community.  They let the systems vendors make lots of stuff and then pick and choose as things work out.   The entire goal of this exercise is to get as many R&D dollars spent to make lots of competing products to keep prices low.



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