Connecting the Isle of Man Through NFV

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With a population of about 88,000, the Isle of Man is a self-governing dependency of the British Crown located between England and Ireland. Its residents and businesses enjoy a full suite of services from Manx Telecom, the island’s primary telecom provider. Committed to delivering the highest-quality connectivity and telecom services (including fixed-line, broadband, mobile, and hosting), the company is continually investing in the latest, most effective solutions.

A required update to the company’s IP Multimedia Subsystem—part of the infrastructure underpinning its voice network services—spurred the Manx Telecom team to reevaluate its network infrastructure. The solution proposed by the then-current vendor was to redeploy using the existing architecture of integrated hardware and software appliances. Kevin Paige, chief information and technology officer at Manx Telecom, realized the company needed a fresh strategy to stay ahead. “We felt the market had moved, and there were more exciting and innovative possibilities,” he says.

Customer demands were also on the move, which meant Manx Telecom needed to improve business agility. “Expectations are now higher than ever before,” Paige says. “We needed a way to take new services to market faster, answering customer needs in weeks, not months.”

Paige also wanted to reduce the amount of time the Technology team spent maintaining the network. As a result, the Technology team would be able “to devote more time to building and implementing new services and solutions for both staff and customers.”

Adopting a New Networking Approach

Straightaway, Paige felt that adopting network functions virtualization (NFV) would be the best way to support future growth and success. “NFV would provide a platform on which we could run numerous services,” he says. “This would allow us to scale our offering quickly and easily, as well as bring new services to our customers in a fraction of the time.”

The Technology team worked with VMware to build the NFV system in just under 12 months. After extensive testing, the NFV system went live in late 2015. “It was a remarkably smooth transition to move from our previous platform and into our new NFV system,” Paige says.

Zooming Ahead with Capacity to Spare

The new platform is helping the company improve the scalability of its services. To Manx Telecom, it’s perhaps the most important benefit of NFV. Scalability enables the organization to accommodate periodic fluctuations in demand, such as when motorcycle enthusiasts stream onto the island for the annual Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) Races.

“The event is accompanied by a drastic uplift in population, sometimes as high as 30 percent,” Paige says. “Thanks to NFV, our ability to extend the platform capacity has been radically improved. We can add capacity whenever we need it, to scale up and down as demand dictates.”

NFV also helps Manx Telecom speed time to market for new products. “A 4G roaming service is among the new services that the company has been able to provide faster than it could have before,” says Manx Telecom CEO Gary Lamb. “It’s important in helping us to provide the best possible service to the residents and businesses on the island.”

At the same time, the company has been able to consolidate technology and reduce operational costs. Manx Telecom is now running in a horizontal platform architecture rather than single vertical services. “Not only does it give us a holistic way to control, operate, and manage all of our services from a centralized point, but it has significantly reduced our costs,” Paige says. The company can work with partners to license software and pay only for the resources it uses. This software subscription model is far more cost-effective than the company’s previous end-to-end service approach.

Ultimately, NFV is a story of flexibility and agility for Manx Telecom. According to Paige, “It’s the future of our organization and the strategic direction that we believe all telecommunications services will evolve toward.”

Watch the video below to learn more about how Manx Telecom transformed its network infrastructure to deliver new, scalable services to its customers.

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