How ARM Data Center Software Modernises Network Inventor

How ARM Data Center Software is Modernising Network Inventory

28 August 2019 | Sponsored Content

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Frank McDermott, co-founder and CEO of ARM Data Center Software, tells Capacity how his company is solving the problems of poor data inventory.

What does your company do and what problems are you solving?

ARM Data Center Software is the innovative provider of network lifecycle management solutions for carrier, colocation, and cloud operators. Our industry-first true SaaS solution, cARMa, empowers clients of any size to quickly take control and gain visibility into expense, revenue, and capacity of network infrastructure with a single source of truth across departmental barriers.

Poor inventory data drives substantial operational and financial underperformance. On average, ARM sees 21% of network inventory is inaccurate in the telecom industry. Daily business transactions, siloed IT systems, new overlay networks, and acquisitions create poor inventory data quality. The high acquisition cost of traditional inventory systems, whether bare metal or virtualised in private clouds are high barriers to entry that lead to a wide range of alternative solutions, even manual spreadsheets. Now with the modernisation of networks and growing business digital transformation, network and data centre providers can no longer succeed and scale without a single source of reliable data for operating, maintaining, and optimising networks.

So why is data such a challenge for providers, and how are you working to overcome it?

One of the most significant challenges for network and data centre providers is how they collect, organise, correlate, and maintain quality operational and financial data. The fundamental problem is that information systems were designed and deployed in isolation: a billing system in accounting, a CRM system in sales, an inventory system in engineering, and a provisioning/ordering system in operations, but most systems were not designed to share information or talk to each other natively. This has led to manual workflows and gaps between systems, which leads to errors. To put the issue into perspective, the average age of monthly recurring cost defects that ARM discovers in the network is 36 months – that is a lot of lost profit.

Initially, clients engage with ARM on a tactical challenge to clean something up with our DISCOVER to RECOVER program, then they go thru the process, and it brings all their data sources into one view. As that happens, clients envision their inventory data as a key strategic enabler of their network modernisation, integration, and financial initiatives.

The digital revolution has provided new tools such as the cloud, database interconnectivity, and big data analytics that service providers should utilise to integrate data and improve data quality that will enable them to manage their networks better and drive increased profitability.

This is where ARM comes in with cARMa Network Inventory SaaS.  cARMa is the solution to replace outdated manual and siloed data practices that result in fragmented views of data centre and network operations that are not able to grow with the increasing complexity of today’s IT infrastructure. Built on the Microsoft cloud, cARMa offers scale, performance, and security enabling ARM to focus on solving its clients’ core business challenges. 

Why did you decide to build cARMa on top of the Microsoft cloud platform?

By going with Microsoft, we get “out of the box” innovation, integration, scalability, security, and mobility. By contrast, if your starting point is a legacy bare-metal platform, then you are opting to build APIs, analytics, scalability, and security on top of that legacy, and that is an incredibly slow and expensive solution, especially when you want to integrate with new business SaaS applications.

Leveraging Microsoft’s advanced analytics, ARM can look at the different layers of the network. We facilitated that through custom code that drives extensive reporting and slicing of the data, which is unique in the telecom industry. 

Security was a key concern of ours. ARM is working with business-critical data, and by building our innovative software on Microsoft we are confident we can pass the strictest security audits. 

And cARMa will be available in the Microsoft AppSource store where people can order cARMa just like an Office 365 subscription. Buyers pay per user on a month to month subscription.

Going with Microsoft allows ARM to focus on building the best telco network inventory platform possible. The combination of an agile cloud-based development environment and clients now seeing their inventory data as a strategic enabler differentiates cARMa in the marketplace.

How are providers using cARMa?

As a cloud-native SaaS, cARMa offers a range of unmatched capabilities for the telecom industry to manage, change, and document network inventory. The top use by far is to associate revenue to network costs in real-time without months of audits and system reconciliations. cARMa gives service providers the ability to plan, assign, change, and document network inventory at every level. Users directly associate orders, revenue, and expenses to network infrastructure for a single source of truth across departmental barriers. 

That level of visibility is valuable to customer support as well. Providers get great topology views through a cARMa tool, Guru, that fills in the gaps to see all the intermediate service points, not just the endpoints. NOC engineers can see the impacts of a fiber cut or a component going down. Not only do they see the customers that originate or terminate at the trouble point, but the NOC can also see every circuit and every customer that passes through that trouble point. There is tremendous value and a huge improvement to the customer experience. 

Operations teams can view field activity with geographic location mapping of tasks and workflows. Workflows support field activities; for example, you can create workflow that assigns a tech go out and install a jumper cable at a patch panel. Now here is the cool part about cARMa - the tech uses the mobile app and takes a live picture of the installed jumper with the new label or the removed jumper that is stored in cARMa with that specific component. Seeing that picture is part of the process, and closes out the order or ticket. Storage is inexpensive, so those images of labels or installs will be around forever for support.

Now everyone across the organisation, at any level, can take full advantage of cARMa’s single source of data and real-time insights to make fully informed decisions.

How has business been this year?

ARM® has had a busy year.  In 2019, we have repositioned ourself as a software company, become a Microsoft Partner, and launched cARMa as a SaaS Network Inventory solution.  

ARM launched cARMa, the same proven platform our multidisciplinary teams used to transform network inventory data, as the industry’s first true SaaS Network Inventory solution, which enables service providers to take control and gain visibility into expense, revenue, and capacity of its network infrastructure. cARMa applications enable customers to visualise and interact with their data for smarter and faster decision making. 

The culmination of our achievements this year was successfully deploying cARMa in one of the top 10 US cable companies. It is rewarding to see our software making a difference in our customer's profitability and growth.

What do you attribute to your company’s success?

Simply put, ARM has a real use case, and one that people need. The status quo is unbearable for everyone trying to densify their network and exploit every asset. We are solving a problem that impacts revenue and profitability, and we are doing it in a way that is affordable for any size provider.

We are the ultimate story of digital transformation – we started the DISCOVER to RECOVER program ourselves; grew so we hired some more really smart people; grew some more and developed automation and intelligence to be more efficient and make better use of data; and then made cARMa available in the cloud.  In doing so we empowered clients of any size to quickly take control and gain visibility into expense, revenue, and capacity of network infrastructure with a single source of truth across departmental barriers.

Frank McDermott is co-founder and CEO of ARM Data Center Software, a company dedicated to eliminating costly network inventory defects and unleashing financial performance for customers. Frank brings wide-ranging experience to the ARM team, leveraging a background that spans technology, telecom operators, data centres, startups and consulting to gain him the reputation as the guy who can fix “Busy CFA.”