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Updating the Network to Build Efficiencies into the Future

Many telecom organizations are struggling to manage their aging infrastructure, much of which has exceeded its intended lifespan. Several years ago, the ICN needed a transformation. ICN’s Chief Technology Officer explains minimizing ICN's legacy footprint and looking towards the IP future.

The Need for Network Consolidation

We had four TDM networks that had been built for various projects, as well as an ATM network that was impossible to maintain. It was time for network consolidation and the sunsetting of the ATM infrastructure. In 2019, the project began to replace the TDM / ATM infrastructure with TDM / Ethernet (IP) with the goals to be more efficient, free up power, and include additional network security.

New Era of ‘Building Efficiencies’ into the Future

We knew we wanted to manage a smaller more efficient network. In order to achieve that goal, we had 420+ DS3s that needed to be removed that were tied to our TDM and ATM infrastructures.  Everyone remembers the video classrooms across the State, and those video connections ran off the ATM platform. Our challenge was to remove that legacy hardware that was well past its prime, because the installed base exceeded the original 10- to 15-year lifespan. The major factor of ending the video service/ATM infrastructure was the fact that it had reached its end-of-life, but also replacement parts were obsolete or exceedingly difficult to find.

Minimize Legacy Footprint and Protect the Integrity of the ICN Network

There are many reasons why protecting the integrity of the Network was a high-level need. Provisioning and lack of automated processes made maintenance activities take longer and removed resources from our broadband platform. Legacy infrastructure had a larger footprint that consumed more power and cooling than our newer technologies. Finally, TDM and packet-based networks were not being updated by their manufacturers. The lack of available support and security also made it an easy decision to minimize our legacy footprint and protect the integrity of the Network.

In order for this Network transformation to run like clockwork, all of the operations and engineering staff came together to do an assessment and create a plan with open communications with the goals to identify, consolidate, and remove legacy infrastructure. We now have only 10-15 legacy circuits left. By July of 2021, the ICN will have sunsetted our ATM network and dramatically reduced our TDM footprint.

Migrating to IP

We exist in a digital world where services must be replaced if they lack security, support, personnel.  ICN stepped up and faced the challenge to migrate away from legacy infrastructure without losing customers. As a technology leader within the State of Iowa, we knew we had to continue to move the Network forward from TDM-to-IP/MPLS. This significantly allows for more time to be dedicated to security and expanding our IP fabric to meet the needs of our customers.

As we achieve this great Network milestone, we are looking forward to developing, securing, and providing IP services that are layered onto the ICN's network as we become a statewide Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP).

 

- Scott Pappan, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for Iowa Communications Network

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