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E-Channel – Portals E-enable VPN Sales, Management

Posted: 12/2001

E-Channel

Portals E-enable VPN Sales, Management
By Tara Seals

Three companies have announced

e-business initiatives to simplify traditionally tricky data accounts. Bandwidth.com Inc., Telco Exchange Inc. and InternetConnect Inc. are using their online presence to make selling virtual

private networks (VPNs) a little easier.

Telco Exchange CEO Bryant Dunetz says his company’s solution is designed to fix what “seems like an eternal cycle of negotiation, re-negotiation, pricing adjustment and pilot.”

Using the Internet for some functions can streamline the process, he explains. Telco Exchange, for example, orders and provisions the Internet access or network access portions of VPN packages and provides web-based software to manage deployment — from installation to provisioning and billing. The software alerts customers and technical crews of installation milestones or problems and provides an inventory of the entire network, showing in-service and out-of-service locations.

The company also makes available engineers for sales consultation and plays an accounting function, checking accuracy by matching contracts with actual billing. It also consolidates billing if a customer solution comes from multiple vendors.

While access options, such as DSL, frame, ATM and T1, are available from a mix of carriers, service providers, resellers and ISPs, Dunetz warns that availability and installation success varies according to customer location. As a value-added service Telco Exchange can pre-qualify thousands of customer locations for the types of access available, all at the same time.

In an effort to overcome the problem of the customer’s individual network subtleties, Bandwidth.com launched a private-labeled VPN service this fall. The portal puts together a ready-made, plug-in solution based on key information from the customer.

That solution, says the company, is

“carrier-agnostic.” It uses a best-of-breed approach to network backbone, garnered from the tier-one carriers it represents on an agency basis, and bundles that with hardware and software from various vendors.

The portal uses a business rules engine to identify the right carrier for the specific job, based on the nearest network point of presence (POP) to the customer premises. The portal’s decision software also evaluates security features required, reliability and latency quality of service (QoS) concerns and carrier discount breakpoints.

Bandwidth.com CEO Henry Kaestner, CEO says the multicarrier approach leads to better solutions for the end-user. “We will even run an in-depth analysis of a customer’s entire network and calculate the best connectivity options for each node from more than 25 carriers in North America and 15 in Europe,” he explains.

On the managed service side, InternetConnect, which provides networked-based VPNs, has opened its “Internet-Connect Customer Account Management” (CAM) portal.

“We want to make it easy and affordable for companies to manage their private network environment,” says Cliff Young, InternetConnect president and CEO.

InternetConnect caters to small- to mid-sized business, and says the site simplifies day-to-day management activities. Web-based tools let customers track provisioning, add a mailbox, pay bills, changing firewall configurations or add VPN locations on a round-the-clock basis.


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