Stargus, Teradyne Team To Find Data Net Faults

Two network management companies have hooked up to help cable operators find just where the trouble is in their high-speed data networks.

Under the deal, Teradyne Inc.'s NetFlare Internet customer care and network diagnostic software, which monitors the higher application layers systems farther out in the network, will be integrated with Stargus Inc.'s CableEdge access network software. The CableEdge system, based on the Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS), monitors the last-mile connection between the user and the cable headend.

The marriage will allow customer care agents to remotely diagnose a problem and determine where the fault is — anywhere from the Internet content site's server all the way down to the user's cable modem.

Cable operators have demanded such integration in order to simplify the complex patchwork of software systems overseeing various chunks of the networks, said Stargus cofounder and chief technology officer Jason Schnitzer.

"It's our first step into the open OSS [operational support-system] integration world for cable operators," he added. "It a space that really needs the right solution for the industry to go forward."

Teradyne will license some of CableEdge's technology, and through an open-source applications program interface (API) the two software systems will exchange network monitoring data. The integration work will be demonstrated at this fall's Broadband Plus (formerly the Western Show) and is expected to be available in the first quarter 2003.

For Teradyne, which recently entered the cable market after building a business among telco and Internet provider customers, the integration will help complete the NetFlare offering, according to Jay Opperman, chief scientist for NetFlare.

"When we were out selling the first incarnation of NetFlare, a lot of the questions we would get from customers were 'Great. You can help us understand what is in the provider's network — can you help us understand better in the access network where the problem is?' " he said. Opperman said those questions gave the company an incentive "to look for technologies that would help us do a better job helping the customer care people find those problems in the access network, and this combined relationship will do that."

And doing a better job can cut down on the length of a customer service call, resulting in eventual cost savings for the operator, Opperman added.

The two companies are in individual trials with several as-yet-unnamed U.S. cable operators. Once the integrated product is ready for the market, Stargus and Teradyne will continue marketing their own products, but if one company lands a contract, the door will be opened for the other to come in and pitch the added element, Opperman said.

"There may be opt for joint selling," he added. "I think that is on our list of opportunities, and we would be open to that."