BT's Concert division has been able to offer self-service toeeds via the internet. customers of its managed VPN (virtual private network) service by deploying a web-based tool to automate policy-based change-of-service requests.
The Service Management Inventory Database (SMID), developed using Intelligent Environments' Amazon Integrator, was built to support the Concert Virtual Private Data Network.
SMID is designed to make it easier for customers to order the elements of the service they require and to change service profiles when business needs change.
"Eighty per cent of the network will probably never change, but it may be that the customer wants to amend a firewall policy or to request an exposure analysis," said Richard Davison, manager of Design and Integration for Concert.
He said companies were increasingly prepared to outsource firewall security to avoid the cost of training personnel and ongoing costs in keeping services up and running. What some companies were doing before adopting a managed firewall service from Concert was "frightening", he added.
Before SMID, Concert customers requested changes via phone or fax. The details would be taken by an operator and entered into several administration systems, often more than once.
Since SMID went live, all the customer has had to do is to connect, via the web, to an Oracle database at BT's network management centre in Amsterdam, get the relevant details and request changes, which can be made almost immediately.
An Amazon application handles database connectivity and controls the interface through which the user integrates with the service management program.
Amazon and the Concert web server communicate over an encrypted link, with authentication provided using Security Dynamics' SecureID tokens.
Also customers are only permitted to view records that apply to them.
Concert customers can also use the SMID to order and view network reports detailing network performance and other operational metrics.
In future, Concert may allow requests to be customised online by a client.
Concert supplies a small managed firewall for $1,995 (#1,247) per month, with a large VPN capable Firewall1 installation with secure dial-in rising to just over $4,000 per month.