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Reverting the Value-Added Services Cycle of Inaction

by Wladimir Araujo, Infoblox Product Manager


It's no secret: internet service providers (ISPs) are under extreme pressures to retain subscribers. One option to increase average revenue per user (ARPU) is by offering value-added services to subscribers on top of basic connectivity. It's a win-win situation: subscribers gain captivating services that enhance their existing experience. The ISP receives exceptional margins while reducing churn, another challenge in a market being driven to commoditization.


It sounds great, but there are challenges to overcome. The primary problem most ISPs face in implementing such a strategy is the high cost of failure in the face of over the top (OTT) competition. Another question: once service providers find a compelling service to offer with unique differentiators against the OTT players, often the initial investment to launch (both in terms of capital and internal IT resources) is too high. The size of such investment typically leads to a long time to market, further increasing the risk of failure. The result? Most value-added services projects never leave the PowerPoint planning stage.


Breaking the Cycle


To break the cycle of inaction, ISPs should change at least one fact: the substantial initial investment or the cost of failure. There are many approaches to minimizing the initial investment. For example, ISPs can leverage an existing platform to deliver such services since the platform cost is paid for by another project. The typical difficulties that arise when choosing this path are affecting the platform performance and scalability when enabling these new capabilities. A typical example is the activation of content filtering features on Layer 7 firewalls or deep packet inspection (DPI) platforms, which result in a 25% to 50% reduction of throughput. Such incremental platform cost needs to be borne by the new venture upfront, thus keeping the business case challenging. Therefore, choosing the right platform to deliver the desired services is critical. It must be a platform that scales with the value provided, and that requires no incremental upfront investment.


Caching DNS servers are the ideal platform for many service provider value-added services offerings. DNS is a foundational service that all ISPs must offer to enable access to the Internet. DNS scales primarily with the number of subscribers or clients instead of throughput, which allows pay-as-you-grow business case. But not all DNS are created equal. Excessive network delay or latency can have an extreme effect on the subscriber experience, especially now when subscribers expect close to instantaneous network response. Response delays negatively affect revenue, and slow responding caching DNS servers can cause significant latency and a network connection.


Infoblox Subscriber Services


Infoblox provides ISPs a complete DNS-based platform for Subscriber Services for both fixed and mobile access that ensures a predictable ROI with flexible physical, cloud, and virtualized technologies that can evolve as ISPs transition to NFV and grow with the subscriber base – enabling minimal upfront investment with a scalable solution and a pay-as-you-grow model. Subscriber Services enables ISPs to protect users with subscriber policy enforcement to identify risks such as malware and phishing and allows enforcement of customizable policies per user to enable unique offerings for different subscriber types.


Subscriber Services is DNS-based, and instead of costly proxies, leverages user and traffic information at the DNS layer – thus providing more detailed information with less impact on the network and with no impact to the subscriber experience. Infoblox Subscriber Services not only scales with the number of subscribers but it can also deliver value-added services without reducing overall platform capacity and without the quality of experience impact to the subscribers, thus nullifying upfront platform investment. Also, as I mentioned earlier, the upfront investment encompasses the IT integration effort with operations support systems (OSS) and business support systems (BSS). Infoblox Subscriber Services provides an end to end solution and a componentized approach with open interfaces to enable ISPs to select the most efficient integration strategy.


Infoblox DNS Cache Acceleration


The “first-connection impression” is essential – that moment when a subscriber connects into the network and instantly judges its safety, reliability, and speed. Besides improving subscriber security and performance, our Next Level capabilities also provide the ultra-low latency that helps ISPs meet the rapidly growing demands from their customers. Designed for service provider environments requiring scalable edge deployments and available in multiple form factors including virtualized NFV options and carrier-grade appliances, Infoblox DNS Cache Acceleration solutions can handle the “perfect storm” of future 5G and edge-based applications that require ultra-low latency – supporting DNS query rates up to five million queries per second as a standalone appliance. Through centralized management, network operators can quickly instantiate, implement, and auto-scale network services and manage those services more efficiently through a unified family of devices. Infoblox virtual appliance software leverages x86 hardware virtualization technology to provide ultra-low latency of 50 microseconds on average.


By choosing Infoblox Subscriber Services, ISPs can create new revenue opportunities with intelligent services for upsell to installed base and new customers while simultaneously minimizing the initial investment to launch value-added services for both fixed and mobile subscribers.


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