MCI Polishes Private IP Service

Private IP is MCI's multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) network-based service that moves customers' critical applications over a private and secure network. MCI's five Private IP service levels allow new Private IP customers to prioritize IP traffic over MCI's network, said Michael Marcellin, senior director of data and VPN product management at the Ashburn, Va.-based carrier.

The new Private IP reporting packages come in five options, each of which offers customizable user dashboards that provide performance reports of voice and data traffic traveling over the MCI network, Marcellin said.

VARs selling the Private IP service to new customers will be able to give them the option of selecting which applications get the highest WAN bandwidth priority on the MCI network, Marcellin said. For example, a VAR might suggest that a Private IP customer assign video applications or mission-critical applications such as SAP or PeopleSoft to MCI's second-highest forwarding priority service class, while more general data flows such as FTP and e-mail are consigned to lower-priority service levels, he said, adding that all voice traffic runs at the highest, realtime service level.

Under the new service-level model, "a Private IP customer purchases support for all their traffic, and the only additional charge is they would need to carve out of that some portion of that bandwidth that is specific to their particular classes of applications. Then we honor that throughout the network," Marcellin said. "Existing customers don't need to move to this new model. But when they renew, they may want to make adjustments for bandwidth, depending on their applications."

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Two of the five reporting packages, Private IP Standard Reporting and Private IP Enhanced Traffic Management (ETM) Reporting, are included free for Private IP customers. Private IP Standard Reporting gives weekly performance reports of all WAN traffic, and Private IP ETM Reporting provides enhanced reporting for Private IP customers that have upgraded their accounts to the ETM level. The standard ETM reporting package includes tools such as network-based application recognition.

For as low as $15 per location on the WAN, Private IP customers can upgrade to Private IP Select Reporting, which produces trend reports and drills down further into the meaning and possible impact of performance data, Marcellin said. For as low as $50 extra per WAN location, ETM customers also can upgrade to Private IP ETM Select Reporting, which offers near-realtime performance reporting and trending, as well as network status maps.

MCI soon plans to release a LAN analysis reporting package, too, Marcellin said. That package will offer entry-level LAN analysis thats give users tools to see how applications affect local network performance. The offering isn't intended to compete against enterprise LAN reporting and performance monitoring products such as IBM Tivoli, he said.

Greg Praske, CEO of Association Resource Group, a telecom VAR in McLean, Va., said he's evaluating MCI's reporting packages and noted that amid the continued convergence of voice and data, being able to manage application performance all the way out into the cloud is a big plus. The impending arrival of MCI's LAN reporting package also makes sense, Praske said, because "to just cut off [WAN] IP performance reporting at the firewall can create difficulties, since you are now almost always delivering service right to the desktop."