AT&T pushes into LAN management


BASKING RIDGE, N.J. -- AT&T is fulfilling a promise it made last year to begin managing LANs as well as WANs. In the process, the carrier is winning outsourcing contracts at a more rapid pace than its rivals.

The latest win for the telecom giant's AT&T Solutions managed-network unit is AlliedSignal, which last month awarded AT&T Solutions a $400 million-plus contract for most of its network architecture.

Under the contract, AT&T will manage not only AlliedSignal's routers, but also its LAN hubs and switches using the Global Enterprise Management System (GEMS), a collection of off-the-shelf and proprietary management tools installed in AT&T's customer support centers.

With Version 6.0 of GEMS, AT&T began incorporating tools such as Microsoft's Systems Management Server (SMS) and Novell's ManageWise to bore down to the server level in outsourced networks.

In AlliedSignal's case, AT&T is tacking on other new capabilities, such as the local business telephone service it began providing after taking over competitive local exchange carrier Teleport last year.

AT&T Solutions president Rick Roscitt emphasizes that in these contracts, AT&T is not simply performing fault management for client companies. Rather, using the GEMS package, AT&T technicians set thresholds for CPU utilization and other network-element factors and can flag performance over a period of days to try to prevent network degradation before it happens.

GEMS is not a package that AT&T ordinarily offers directly to customers, and its capabilities are generally limited to users who sign large network management contracts. But analysts do credit AT&T Solutions with building momentum while rival carriers revamp their outsourcing strategies -- such as MCI WorldCom transferring its Systemhouse unit to EDS.

"We're winning most of the large engagements," Roscitt says, pointing to other recent wins with Citibank, Bank One, McGraw-Hill and United HealthCare.

Ironically, one of the things that is less settled with the AlliedSignal contract may be on the WAN side, AT&T's traditional area of expertise.

AT&T will begin by managing AlliedSignal's frame relay and private-line networks spanning 400 sites in 19 countries, but during the course of the contract, the company will consider a more IP-centric architecture. According to Roscitt, AT&T and AlliedSignal have yet to decide whether to run IP applications over a high-speed ATM network, or move directly to an IP-over-SONET infrastructure.

This story, "AT&T pushes into LAN management" was originally published by Network World.

What’s wrong? The new clean desk test
View Comments
You Might Like
Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies