Equant unveils merged network services

Equant unveils merged network services

Equant NV on Wednesday announced a new group of services that it says combine its strongest offerings with those of Global One, the international data network company it merged with in June.

Since the merger, the two companies have been busy examining each other's services in an effort to come up with one integrated set of offerings. The resulting services are broken down into two groups: network services, and integration and managed services.

"Our network services include classics like frame relay and ATM, and our most important product for the future, IP VPN," says Arjen Maarleveld, director of global products at Equant. The integration and managed offerings include services such as managed security and Web hosting.

Equant expects to see a $US150 million per year savings in capital expenditures by combining both companies' operations. The company also expects to see $300 million in operational savings annually, Maarleveld says.

Due to the overlap between the two companies, the companies had to go through exhaustive comparisons in order to choose the best products to offer. But "there were a few exceptions to that," Maarleveld says.

One exception is when only one company offered a particular service. For example, Equant offered project management services and Global One did not. Another was with the companies' managed e-mail and messaging offerings - Global One offered users a managed Lotus Notes service and Equant offered its customers a managed Microsoft Exchange service. Now the combined Equant is offering both services.

There were also situations where the company decided to merge two products because each had different strengths. "That's the case with IP VPN," he says. Global One's IP VPN offering had a strong emphasis on using Multi-protocol Label Switching, where Equant's offering had a strong emphasis on frame relay access, Maarleveld says. Equant has essentially taken both of those offerings and merged them into one hybrid IP VPN service.

"Both companies were using the same Cisco Systems platforms, so it wasn't so difficult to merge the services," he says.

Equant's service level agreement reporting tools were stronger so the company opted to keep those while ditching Global One's system.

Equant's network services roster now includes: IP VPN, IP Dial, Internet Direct, Frame Relay, ATM, X.25, Managed Direct Link, voice over IP for IP VPN, Contact Center and Mobile Access.

Equant's integration and managed services now include: LAN Deployment, Cisco Deployment, Nortel Network Integration, Procurement, Maintenance Services, Enterprise Server Monitoring, Enterprise Network Management, Consulting, Project Management, Secure Gateway, Server Authentication, Managed Web Hosting, Server Hosting, Net Hosting, Managed Microsoft Exchange, Managed Lotus Notes and Managed SMTP Messaging.

While Equant is offering a combined service portfolio, its billing is still not integrated, however.

"Billing is always a tough one," Maarleveld says. "We have a strategy and program in place to integrate our billing. It's a complex process that will take 12 to 18 months." Former Global One customers should soon expect to receive Equant bills, but as Maarleveld points out, changing the name on an invoice is the easiest part. He says there are some countries where billing migration is particularly difficult. For instance, in Romania, the government requires all invoices be typed out on specific paper using a specific brand of typewriter.

At the same time, the company is merging its multiple networks. Both service providers were using Nortel Passport frame relay switches, which will make the integration of its data networks easier. The first phase of that interconnection is in place.

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