How to automate IPoE-addresses assignment and accounting

Prior to launching our new product called ‘IPoE Portal’ we had come to the conclusion that highlighted the need for automation when switching to IPoE. Here’s our key takeaways for those who are looking forward to do it and would like to do it right.

Why is it still here

Switching from PPP to IPoE turns out to be a real pain for telecoms with Ethernet networks. Though IPoE is much more user-friendly as it offers easier sign up, no need to remember passwords and no connection breaks.

Half of our client base have not switched yet and there are far more companies out there that procrastinate about it. There are reasons to put things off and it’s mostly about costs:

new equipment — network switches that support DHCP Option 82;
new cable infrastructure — cable and port inventory system;
new software — MAC addresses storage and authentication system.

IPoE requires you to keep MAC addresses up to date and replace broken switches with cable/port mapping in mind. Mixing up ports causes connection breaks and clients still have to get support for every new MAC address. That’s exactly what slows telecoms down but there’s a way to make the whole process easier.

Solution

In order to map a subscriber to his/her network data (MAC address, switch address and port number) you have to hand it over to authentication portal. The portal requests subscriber’s login information and adds new requisites into the authentication DB.

We have learned a couple of lessons about it from building our own IPoE solution at Hydra. You’re going to need:

1. Authentication DB that stores data about switches and ports, subscribers’ devices and their owners, mapping data necessary for authentication.

2. A DB for subscribers’ network data (requisites) that’s handled by DHCP Option 82.

3. Network data (requisites) collection process involving DHCP server that adds it to the requisites DB together with subscribers’ IPs.

4. BRAS setup with services for subscribers with wrong ports (switch replacement situation), wrong MAC addresses with working ports (new devices), wrong MACs with wrong ports (new subscribers).

Some companies decide to go ports-only and free subscribers of the need to manually signup new devices. This move complicates switch replacements as the MAC address is the only thing that allows to map authentication data. On the other hand, adding MAC addresses to the process prevents possible network abuse.

Here we have 5 common situations with IPoE that you’re going to learn how to deal with.

1. Migration from PPP

Looks complicated as you have to keep track of ports-to-subscribers mapping and store it in your DB. In fact, there’s no need to setup each and every switch, so all you have to do is use our situation #5 and add redirect attribute in your authentication DB. This way subscribers with no MAC address mapping go to the portal.

This option makes it possible to update network map with minimum hassle for clients. It should be rolled out step by step in order to distribute possible workload for your support teams.

2. New subscriber setup

Getting started with IPoE network is not always easy for new subscribers and operators as well. Mapping MAC address and finding free ports are two tricky tasks and some large companies even assign special employees on this task. This problem involves extra costs and can be solved with automation.

Some telecoms signup new subscribers in the same day as they arrive or do it in the range of 24 hours. It requires network installers to have necessary equipment and mobile apps that serves them requests. The authentication portal does the rest of the work and maps subscribers to appropriate switches with MAC addresses stored in authentication DB.

3. New devices setup

Even solid networks with integrated IPoE suffer from the problem of new customer devices setup. New Wi-Fi router means new MAC address and unsuccessful authentication resulting in customer support requests and possible churn.

There’s a way to handle this situation by redirecting subscribers to the portal where they sign in and confirm necessary updates. Next, the authentication DB is updated with new MAC addresses. This move cuts about 1,5k monthly support requests per 100k subscribers.

4. Access switch replacement

Classic IPoE network requires ports mapping when replacing access switches so that it remains the same and subscribers stay connected. The portal does all the dirty work with its authentication DB being updated as soon as subscribers log in from the wrong port and confirm necessary updates.

This way automation cuts costs and network installers are free to use any ports when replacing switches and finally get rid of port mapping print outs.

5. Subscribers migration

The portal solves the problem if you’d like to allow migration from one spot to another. The algorithm is similar to access switch replacement case.

Hydra’s implementation

Hydra billing system serves as the authentication DB and stores necessary information about switches, ports, customers’ devices and MAC addresses. The portal is just a couple of HTML pages with built in forms that trigger HTTP POST requests.

Our ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) app runs as the server with integrated network data DB, authentication DB and RADIUS agent. It handles all the situations listed above with special presets available.

Automation with Hydra makes IPoE integration a no-brainer and cuts potential costs related to maintenance.

Find more content in our blog on Medum.

09.03.2016

Other publications

Various types of companies face often repeated business processes and handling support tickets which are common for almost any tech company. Moreover, managing typical tasks and providing recurring services are often complex business processes that require cooperation from several departments.
Billing systems highly depend on databases that often become enormous in table size. PostgreSQL, Oracle and other database management systems allow partitioning, though Oracle Standard Edition doesn’t include this option...
Multiple companies prefer to keep manual operations in place when it comes to critical business processes. Some combine it with modern business tools and integrate recurring payments model.
Most businesses based on recurring payments model involve subscription billing. Moving from single payments is effective only when your clients are satisfied. Subscription churn means recurring revenue cuts and should be dealt with swiftly.
We have been designing billing solutions for telecom applications for 8 years. We’ve made more than 80 successful integrations, but along the way we’ve found that about 50% of companies develop custom tools in order to keep their businesses competitive.
We have successfully integrated with SwitchRay Web portal.
The provisioning module of events responsible for managing the external equipment and software systems has been fully rewritten. Its experience in operation is valued by more than 70 CSP.
New marketing tools for user base segmentation, discount management, and package offers have appeared.
In the new version we have completely developed the services operation mechanism. This immediately added several serious improvements, but all of the capabilities embedded in the new version will be available in later versions as well.
In the new version an access rights system has been fully written from scratch. The new system is unique and allows users to implement the boldest conceptions in various billing access limitations for employees.

Start your trial of Hydra right now

Try the demo Buy Hydra

Create personal demo

Please, give us your real email, so we could send you an account data.
All fields are required.
.hydra-billing.com

We'll create a personal cloud Hydra for you.
It will be available for 22 days.

Recall request

Your address will not be published or given away to third parties.

Write to us!

Your company

Your services:

Your address will not be published or given away to third parties.

Become a partner

Your address will not be published or given away to third parties

Download brochure

Please, give us your contact information.

Want to learn more?

Please subscribe to our maillist.