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It won’t help 4,000…

It won't help the 4,000 employees with Agilent Technologies Inc. who have or will soon be laid off, but the company did hit a home run last month with the launch of its Network Troubleshooting Center ...


March 1, 2003  


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It won’t help the 4,000 employees with Agilent Technologies Inc. who have or will soon be laid off, but the company did hit a home run last month with the launch of its Network Troubleshooting Center (NTC), a suite of products it calls an industry-first. The intent is to allow both service providers and enterprise customers to reduce operating costs and increase revenues.

In an age when consolidation and bankruptcies are all too common, having to drive through traffic or physically hike to another office or building to solve a networking problem doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

One service provider estimated it costs US$1,500 every time a technical support people went on the road. What’s even worse, it usually takes two to three trips to solve the problem. Another complained that “half the time, I don’t know where my techs are or what they’re doing.”

When it comes to network downtime, the numbers don’t lie. The mean time to repair (MTTR) in traditional network troubleshooting is anywhere from 240-720 minutes, according to estimates compiled from Agilent’s customer base. Using the centralized approach, the MTTR ranges from 55-145 minutes.

Both service providers and enterprise operators are facing tremendous pressure to reduce their operating expenses and drive up the average revenue per user, the company says. The problem being that qualified network technologists are a scarce resource.

“Even with fewer people, the demand has not gone away,” says Steve Witt, vice-president and general manager of Agilent’s Network Systems Test Division. “(Organizations) are working with smaller budgets and staffs and are under extreme pressure to reduce operating expenses and drive up average revenue per user.”

The NTC provides a combination of tactical information, with expert-level, at-a-glance checks of the entire WAN/LAN for remote troubleshooting of data, voice and mobile problems. The combination of tools can be used to examine the health of networks and resolve both the highest-level application issues and the lowest level protocol problems. Overworked network engineers, say Agilent, can tackle many problems at once rather than waste valuable time traveling to remote locations.

Enterprises can expect to reduce network downtime and decrease repeat fault rate through a consistent testing methodology. Service providers stand to increase average revenue per user and deploy new services more quickly.

In the case of the service providers, the centralized approach, says Witt, is all about reducing “windshield time.” For the enterprise, it’s all about not having to walk across a campus or up from floor seven to floor 54.

The layoffs, meanwhile, were announced after Agilent reported a US$369 million loss during its first quarter. Company president and CEO Ned Barnholt described the cost-cutting actions as both “extremely painful” and necessary.


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