The phrase ‘End to end’ is often used when discussing communications technologies but rarely given proper consideration. It can mean several things – a description of the life cycle of a service, for example – but more frequently, it’s used in the context of service quality between the end points in an act of communication.
At a simple level, that means between two handsets that are involved in a conversation, or between multiple devices that span different networks and are communicating in some way. In more complex terms, it can be used to describe service interaction between end points and servers in a network.
Since services are consumed by users, we cannot really conceive of them without some consideration of the end devices by which the service is accessed. And yet operators are forced to do just that because they lack the means to determine precisely what is going on in user devices. Without such knowledge, they can only obtain an incomplete picture of a service and certainly not an end to end understanding of user experience. They can only guess at what happens beyond the core of their network. Educated guesses, for sure, but guesses all the same.
This matters because services are increasingly complex and users may attempt many things at once, undermining the performance of a particular service. Users don’t differentiate between the needs of services, they just expect them to work.
To ensure that services are delivered as expected between all participants, operators have no choice but to attempt to build a true end to end picture. Fortunately, they can now do so, thanks to innovative software solutions that enable them to secure visibility and control of service performance in client devices.
It’s generally agreed that service control is now the domain of Policy servers, which are responsible for administration, initiation and access to services on behalf of individual users. By extending policy into client devices, operators can, for the first time, create a true end to end picture of their network and service performance from the perspective of the user.
And, it’s the users who really matter here – they pay the bills and make demands on the operator. As their demands grow, it’s going to be fundamental for operators to give end points proper consideration and remove guesswork from the picture.