A pioneer in CEP technology for the telecoms sector
BICS is a joint-venture between Belgacom, Swisscom and MTN. The company has local branches in Brussels, Bern, Monaco, Dubai, Singapore and New York, delivering innovative solutions for voice, messaging, roaming, connectivity and mobile financial services to hundreds of telecommunications providers all over the world.
The telecoms sector is undoubtedly one of the most competitive and fast-developing industries, both in terms of data volume and support technologies. With its strong technology team prepared to think outside the box and brimming with initiative, BICS was one of the first telco players to start exploring the huge potential of complex event processing (CEP) technologies for data-processing, with an eye to cashing in on the explosive growth in data in its sector. At the time, these technologies were mostly known in the finance industry, which was experiencing a comparable problem in terms of the increase in information.
To be able to continue guaranteeing the highest level of quality and stability for both internal and external clients at BICS, IT Manager Yves Beddegenoots realized that what was a perfectly adequate approach to reporting at the time would start adversely affecting efficiency within the foreseeable future. Rather than boost the relational database management with more machine power – which was the classic way at the time – Beddegenoots was of the opinion that a scalable CEP solution would be much more advantageous in the long term.
“Our ultimate choice of Sybase CEP was prompted just as much by the excellent guidance and support of the development team at the time and the transparency of the documentation available, as it was by the short learning curve for the tool,” he said. “There was also its striking ease of use and the transparency of the programming language used, which in terms of code was pretty close to what was used in a classic database.”
Quality guarantee thanks to real-time response to emergency signals and proactiveness in periods of peak traffic
Since then, BICS has introduced Sybase CEP for both internal and external use to monitor and analyze the company’s network and deliver quality reports to its customers, the telecoms carriers. This includes using the aggregated, processed and filtered data output from Sybase CEP to visualize emergency signals highlighting increased loads on the network, or the à la carte monitoring of peak periods using real-time statistics, as well as for more conventional reporting via traditional databases.
“Good examples of times when there is increased traffic that we control in real-time are Ramadan, the World Cup or New Year’s Eve,” explains Laurent Missa, OSS Manager at BICS. “Thanks to Sybase CEP, our internal clients – the ones who supervize the network– now have crystal-clear visibility of challenging situations such as these so that they can respond to them immediately and make adjustments where necessary. This is essential for keeping a constant close eye on the quality of the services we provide.”
There is no doubt that Sybase CEP is also a great help with ad hoc reporting queries and hence boosts customer satisfaction for BICS. Where previously they had to wait an average of 45 minutes for their information – rising to as long as a week for extremely complex enquiries – they now receive what they want an order of magnitude faster. “Certainly those 45 minutes can make a world of difference in the telecoms sector,” says Laurent Missa. “And to give internal clients even more control and increase their efficiency and satisfaction even further, we are also considering installing Sybase IQ so that they can create these kinds of unscheduled reports themselves,” adds Yves Beddegenoots.
Certainly for the explosion of data from BICS’s signaling segment, Sybase CEP is proving to be a real blessing. “Previously we could handle the monitoring and reporting side of the voice segment perfectly well with our old database, but the volume of data from services such as mobile messaging and roaming is so large and growing so rapidly that the traditional approach of a year ago would have been totally inadequate,” says Laurent Missa. “So it was a timely reminder of the visionary insight of our decision to look for a good alternative before it was too late.”
Scalability for greater ROI
In addition to the real-time delivery of scheduled monitoring reports, significantly shorter response times to ad hoc queries and the increased flexibility of the technology department for its users, as well as the guarantee of high quality to its external clients, BICS particularly appreciates the benefits of Sybase CEP’s extensive scalability.
“Each day our IT systems receive over 700 million records to process, filter and aggregate, with peaks of up to 10,000 items per second,” explains Laurent Missa. “If we had wanted to accommodate this constant growth with our previous database system, there would have been absolutely no question of any ROI. The gain in storage space generated by Sybase CEP’s data aggregation saves us from having to make substantial investments in additional servers, CPU power, a more extensive database infrastructure, etc. Making major investments that weren’t very future-proof would have meant going through the same process again a few years later.”
“Certainly an important benefit is the correct balance that Sybase CEP provides in terms of the well-known “Buy versus Build” premise,” believes Mr. Beddegenoots. “This way we get the CEP functionalities straight out of the box, but without losing the freedom to adjust the tool to our own ever-changing requirements.”
After a year of effective use and with the curiosity already mentioned about Sybase IQ pushing it on, BICS is looking forward particularly to the new OLAP technology for the real-time visualization of the data output from Sybase CEP.