Monitoring a growing and changing network
Sky Group evolves its IBM SevOne NPM deployment to meet changing needs and overcome new challenges
Optimize IT ops with application-centric network observability
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For the first several years as an IBM® SevOne® Network Performance Management (NPM) customer, Sky Group primarily used SevOne NPM solutions to monitor its physical infrastructure, looking mainly at routers, switches and other networking hardware in its on-premises data centers and other physical locations. 

As the company grew and delivered more entertainment products to more customers in more countries, it needed a larger network to accommodate that growth. To manage its more expansive network, Sky needed more performance monitoring capabilities. As Sky scaled its network, it also scaled its monitoring deployment, and SevOne NPM was always up to the task.

As times changed and new technologies came on the scene, Sky looked to incorporate many of those technological advances in its operations. Over the past few years, Sky’s Network Assurance team has steadily incorporated several next-generation networking architectures and resources in its operations support systems (OSS) strategies. Those changes centered on a gradual but sustained shift away from the company’s prior, legacy approach—which relied heavily on physical network gear—to next-generation virtualized networking and cloud infrastructure.

As always, the Sky team ensured that they had the performance monitoring capabilities they needed for watching over and managing the new and dynamic infrastructure elements they were implementing.

To meet these new network performance monitoring requirements, the Sky team once again looked to SevOne NPM.

>55K Sky uses SevOne NPM to monitor more than 55,000 network devices 23M Sky serves 23M customers across 6 countries
SevOne is a great tool that helps me and my team to be more effective and efficient at our jobs. As new technologies continue to become available to us, and the Sky network continues to grow and change, we can count on SevOne to help us deploy those technologies effectively. That confidence is worth its weight in gold. Amar Palaniswamy OSS Solution Architect, Network Assurance Team Sky Group
Rising to meet new challenges

“Reducing our hardware footprint, with all the financial and operational benefits that brings, was a big goal of ours. However, our primary concern during all of these transitions was to make them without creating any negative impacts on our customers, internal users or partners,” says Amar Palaniswamy, OSS Solution Architect for Sky and a leader of its Network Assurance team. “With a network as large as Sky’s, any new service usually requires a large-scale rollout, and directly affects many users and customers. That’s where performance monitoring becomes even more important than in regular, day-to-day operations. It’s also where SevOne really shines.”

In addition to improving operational agility and helping to accelerate the time-to-market for new entertainment services, Sky’s Network Assurance team had to protect user and customer experiences during and after several major rollouts.

Among the company’s larger projects was adopting and transitioning to software-defined networking (SDN) using Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI). Deployed in its data centers, Sky’s Cisco ACI deployment enabled the company to define its network infrastructure dynamically based on network policies. The intent was to use this Cisco SDN technology to simplify, optimize and accelerate the application deployment lifecycle. However, Sky recognized a key gap. 

While Cisco ACI comes with an embedded management system, it primarily focuses on the initial configuration and ongoing management of network policies. However, the performance data in Cisco ACI offers details only about Cisco ACI managed entities, creating an island of performance data with a limited historical perspective.

The Sky team closed this monitoring gap with the SevOne NPM, which gave them complete, modern SDN monitoring and analytics integrated directly with the management APIs of Cisco ACI. As a result, Sky’s Network Assurance team now has complete, end-to-end visibility across its entire Cisco ACI infrastructure—and the rest of the Sky network it is connected to.

Sky’s Network Assurance team also used the SevOne NPM’s powerful NetFlow analytics capabilities to monitor traffic flow data generated by Sky’s physical and virtual NetFlow-enabled routers, switches and other networking gear from vendors such as Nokia.

Another innovative way that Sky is using the SevOne NPM solution is streaming real-time network performance data to Google Cloud for sophisticated analysis and reporting. This enables Sky to extend the value of its performance data beyond operational silos and organizational boundaries.

In all, Sky is presently using SevOne NPM to monitor more than 55,000 of its network devices.

With a network as large as Sky’s, any new service usually requires a large-scale roll-out, and directly affects many users and customers. That’s where performance monitoring becomes even more important than in regular, day-to-day operations. It’s also where SevOne really shines. Amar Palaniswamy OSS Solution Architect, Network Assurance Team Sky Group
Looking ahead

As Sky’s network continues to grow organically and through any potential acquisitions, and the transition of its IT operations continues to move to the cloud, the Sky team’s plan is simply to adapt and further scale its SevOne NPM deployment to meet monitoring challenges as they arise. And given the latency-sensitive nature of streamed content, and media products in general, Sky will continue counting on the power and speed of the SevOne NPM solution to spot network problems before they impact users or end customers.

In short, Sky’s Network Assurance team continues to rely on SevOne NPM's fast, flexible and scalable monitoring capabilities to help them meet their operational requirements today—and to adapt easily to meet whatever monitoring challenges that the future may bring.

About Sky Group

Headquartered in London, Sky (link resides outside of ibm.com) is a subsidiary of the Comcast group and has over 32,000 employees. It is Europe’s leading media and entertainment company. Across six countries, Sky provides its more than 23 million customers with a full range of television broadcast services including news, sports, movies, pay-per-view events and original content. Sky also offers internet services and fixed telecommunications infrastructure.

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Produced in United States, September 2023.

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