REVIEWER: Scott Mays, corporate director of IT for Insight Communications.
BACKGROUND: Insight Communications is the eighth largest cable operator in the country, owning or managing approximately 1.4 million customers. The company specializes in offering a variety of state-of-the-art entertainment, educational and information services tailored to local communities. Insight specializes in offering bundled, state-of-the-art technology in mid-sized communities, delivering analog and digital video, high-speed data and the recent deployment of voice telephony in selected markets to its customers.
PLATFORMS: Insight has two iSeries machines: an 830 8-way and 730 4-way. Both computers are single partition systems running OS/400 V5R1M0.
PROBLEM SOLVED: In our industry, where performance is measured by cash flow, we need to have access to billing information at all times. We must have the ability to bill customers, answer billing questions and process transactions 24x7 without question. It is extremely critical to our business. We could deliver our product without the support of the billing system, but the company wouldn't survive very long without it.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Insight's 830 machine hosts our customer care and billing package. We typically have in excess of 1,000 agents using the application at a single time. We use OMS/400 and ODS/400 to mirror customer care and billing information to the DR machine. The biggest benefit to Insight Communications is that we are able to maintain our DR environment with a minimum of effort. The way that ODS and OMS are integrated significantly reduces the effort required to ensure the production and DR machines are synchronized. The ability to repair objects that are out of sync via the sync check tool is also huge.
STRENGTHS: Because of Vision Suite, Insight has successfully kept our billing applications up and running since we implemented the solution in 2002. Insight's investment in Vision Suite has paid off in peace of mind, knowing that the mission-critical information the company relies on is there when it's needed. Additionally, Insight faces a business environment that is filled with change due to consolidation and restructuring. We are relieved to have a solution that can be flexible and change as our business grows and develops in the future.
WEAKNESSES: Insight operates six separate instances of our application. There are some planned reductions in the number of instances supported, but we will always have multiple instances for various regulatory reasons. We need to manage each instance separately which, when changes occur across each instance, is very time-consuming. It would be nice if there was a way to manage objects across links and/or if there were functions within the OMS/ODS platforms that consolidated certain operations such as object status checks/exception reporting.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Insight chose Vision Solutions and Strategic Systems USA, Vision's premier business partner, because of their strong reputation in the industry. There are a number of other cable operators that run the same billing application as Insight, and they've had trials and tribulations with Vision Solutions' competitors. Vision Suite came so highly recommended, and our investigation into all of the possible solutions led us to believe that Vision had what we needed - the best solution, the easiest to implement and the simplest to support.
DELIVERABLES: Insight receives daily summary reports showing exceptions and definitions for each link. We prefer to use the online exception reporting, as it is more immediate and better suits our needs.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Insight has had a great experience using Vision Solutions' CustomerCare response center whenever we have a question. Between Strategic Systems and Vision Solutions, someone is available around the clock to support customers in whatever capacity is needed. CustomerCare is available 24x7, and you can actually get someone on the phone. Each representative is friendly, professional, prompt and knowledgeable - all of the things you want from your solution provider.
DOCUMENTATION: In November 2003, Insight had a complete failure of our DR machine. Because we did not have a complete system save, we had to reload the system from scratch. We used OMS and ODS documentation from Vision along with the configuration on the production machine to rebuild the configuration on the DR machine. We did need to rely somewhat on Vision customer support; but, for the most part, we have been able to handle any daily problem completely on our own.
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