Encore Interactive’s experience with Telecom IPTV operations and the Mediaroom middleware platform gives them deep insight into the challenges associated with day to day operations and configuration. These challenges extend from front line support to upper support tiers including management stakeholders tasked with managing resources, costs, risk, throughput and reporting for Mediaroom operational activities.
Through years of working closely with lead customer Bell, the Operator Control Centre, or OCC for short, was built to address those day-to-day challenges. With built in extensibility, the platform has evolved with Bell’s operational focus to continuously reduce the cost and risk of managing their Mediaroom deployments.
Bell came to Encore with the following five challenges with Mediaroom operations:
Expensive overtime maintenance windows routinely took over 5 hours to complete and were required several times per week to meet the service configuration changes regularly introduced into their environment. In addition, SMT (the Mediaroom Service Management Tool used to make these configuration changes) does not natively support change grouping, scheduling or rollbacks. This means all changes need to be completed manually and step by step during maintenance windows. This, in addition to the lack of change rollback capability, contributes significantly to these activities' cost, time, and risk.
SMT also does not provide access or authorization controls. The same portal that allows for routine individual subscriber account changes provides access to modify or accidentally degrade the entire system. Consequently, top-tier resources were often required to perform even simple changes.
Mediaroom does not provide a native capability to track, manage and audit maintenance activities on the platform. Operations reported that they need to take good written notes, keep archives of emails, and change request documents to determine the source of maintenance activity requests. Over time, that quantity of information makes it very difficult to determine configuration changes made on the Mediaroom platform forensically. Even when good notes are taken, errors can still occur, and the as-is state of the Mediaroom platform has been known to get out of synchronization with intended configuration changes accidentally.
Bell Aliant wanted reporting tools to help them understand the configuration of their platform. Most notably, to find out information about their channel lineups, grants, and relationship to the Mediaroom GLF EPG file, time-consuming manual work was continually required to provide the information required by marketing and service planning departments.
OCC is built as a framework to centralize and operationalize regular Mediaroom maintenance activities while at the same time focusing on key principles:
Accessibility: OCC is a web-based application that allows direct access for any employee that requires it. This greatly simplifies the challenge of requiring special connectivity, such as virtual private networks, remote desktops, or jump servers. It also helps secure and stabilizes the Mediaroom environment by minimizing users' need for direct access to the Mediaroom platform. By allowing easy and direct access for employees, OCC makes it simpler and more efficient to get work done.
Access Control: OCC is a powerful and flexible system that ties into your corporate or Mediaroom Active Directory environment. This allows you to authenticate and authorize OCC functionality access based on your users' Active Directory credentials. This means specific users or groups can be authorized to access any combination of the management tools in OCC. For example, you can implement AD groups for each operational tier (e.g., HELPDESK, INSTALLERS, MARKETING, and TVOPS) and assign access accordingly. HELPDESK can manage the customer management and stream management tools, INSTALLERS can access the set-top box management tool, MARKETING can access live service, and VOD reporting tools and TVOPS can access everything.
Decoupled Job Authoring and Job Execution: OCC decouples the standard SMT practice of making a change against Mediaroom and having that change reflected immediately. Instead, OCC introduces a job authoring tool, a web-based platform for creating complex work packages. This allows operators to create a work package offline that consists of all of the elements of a maintenance window. This work package is then saved with maintenance window metadata allowing a rich history of maintenance activity to be preserved. The work package can then be scheduled to run automatically or with a single operator key press reducing maintenance windows to minutes instead of hours.
Bell experienced savings of $240,000 /yr in operational costs while increasing stakeholder visibility into change management and system configuration while reducing the risk associated with complex and repetitive configuration procedures.
Encore's Operator Control Centre (OCC) provides high control and flexibility to reduce operational risk and cost. OCC not only simplifies the change management of your Mediaroom environment but also has many value-added features that greatly improve operational efficiency. If you would like more information about Encore or the OCC, please reach out to us. We would be happy to discuss how our solutions can benefit your company.