AOL Broadband

AOL Broadband

Onepoint successfully delivered a robust AOL UK Broadband Enterprise Architecture

Founded in 1989, Carphone Warehouse is a British mobile phone retailer, with over 2,400 stores across Europe. It trades as Carphone Warehouse in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and as Phone House elsewhere.

The company has been a subsidiary of Dixons Carphone since 7 August 2014, which was formed by the merger of its former parent Carphone Warehouse Group with Dixons Retail. With annual revenue of £10.7 million ( in 2013) and an employee strength over 11500 it was a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index and listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Business Drivers

Carphone Warehouse (CPW) acquired the 2.1 million customer AOL “access” (ISP) business in the UK from AOL Inc on the 29th of December 2006 with the objective of building a successful and profitable “stand-alone” broadband business – AOL Broadband.

The Architecture Challenge

The challenge faced was to create an Enterprise Architecture that could support the AOL Broadband business and to deliver business processes that could be used by Testing, Business Readiness and Business Operations. This required experienced Enterprise Architects with an in-depth knowledge of the Telco industry coupled with a robust Governance Structure capable of handling both business and technical issues. A number of key architecture challenges were overcome:

1. Developing AOL Broadband Enterprise Architecture with COBAL(See CPW Case Study) as the reference point.

The first challenge was in developing the AOL Broadband Enterprise Architecture using the COBAL Architecture as the reference point, whilst being constrained by the new AOL systems that were required (e.g. Kana) and those AOL Inc systems that had been bought and would be migrated to the new business.

This involvedtaking the COBAL Architecture, over laying the systems from the TSAAsset Register (which indicated whether a system was being sold to CPW,or needed to be replaced either because it was retained by AOL Inc orretired). The new Architecture then showed where and how AOL Broadbandspecific systems would integrate into the COBAL Architecture.

2. Revision of AOL Broadband Enterprise Architecture to account for diseMP platform.

This next challenge occurred when the ESG decided not to proceed with COBAL in Aug 2007.

The Architecture team was asked to undertake due diligence of Martin Dawes System’s (MDS) diseMP platform as an alternative solution. This involved a technical evaluation of the product highlighting its strengths and weaknesses and how this would replace the legacy AOL Inc CRM and Billing functionality.

To ensure that the Transition Programme could be completed in a timely manner, the Architecture team proposed using diseMP as a drop-in replacement for the AOL Inc legacy CRM and Billing systems. This involved a wholesale redesign of the proposed architecture for AOL Broadband based on the COBAL Architecture. The resulting architecture contained in excess of 70 interfaces across more than 30 systems.

3. Establishing an AOL Architecture Governance Structure

It is within the context of a MDS diseMP solution that the Architecture team developed the Enterprise Architecture. As the Architecture team developed the detail for this a number of business and technical problems became apparent that required clear direction from the team to ensure the integrity of the solution.

For example when CPW purchased the AOL Access networks this included 8 x Narrowband and 3 broadband networks supporting different portions of the 2.1 million customer member base. The team needed to look at how technical separation from AOL Inc network could be accomplished and how Network Authentication Services could be delivered as this was owned by AOL Inc.

This was achieved through an Architecture Decision (AD) Paper that identified the problems to be addressed, the options available with an Architectural preferred recommendation.

An AOL Architecture Governance Structure was established by Onepoint to obtain buy in from key stakeholders. This involved two stages: Submission of the AD paper to the Technical Review Team who comprised of Subject Matter Experts from finance, business and technology and work stream project managers. This ensured there was buy in for the recommendation at a business / technical at the ground level;

On approval the second stage involved referring the paper to the Design Council comprising of Business Directors and TSA Senior Management. The Architect would provide a walkthrough of the AD paper and address any questions. The Design Council would approve with instructions to implement.

4. Delivering Operational and Support Processes to the business

In Nov 07, Architecture inherited the business process team as the Programme Manager decided that this would be the best place to develop the required business processes.

The Business Process team worked closely with the Architecture team to ensure that some 320 new operational and support processes were developed based on the delta between the “As Is” and “To Be” states (The team mapped only those processes that changed as a result of the introduction of the DiseMP platform).

5. Using a near-shore model working with Member Services

The Onepoint architecture team worked very closely with the Member Services (MS) team based in Waterford, Ireland using a near-shore model. The MS team based in Waterford represented the key stakeholders from the Customer Services side of the business whose main task was to ensure minimum disruption to the customer base during the transition programme. The Onepoint team worked very closely with MS in the following key areas:

  • Architecture of the new company and it’s impact on the Call Centre and Customer services.
  • Supporting the work on Knowledge Management.
  • Defining the architecture for the new online / web platform – The site has between 120k and 150k visitors per day and required a very responsive, robust and highly available platform. For this purpose a load balanced cluster of 4 Apache/Tomcat servers has been implemented running a subset of the Java EE technology stack. The site interfaces with the back-end CRM, knowledge management and order capture systems and integrates with 2 load balanced Google search appliances for search functionality.
  • Carrying out QA and then re-implementing parts of the online website: The 3rd party vendor who was contracted to deliver the website did not deliver to the
    required quality. The Onepoint architect was then asked to lead the re-implementation of the various parts to meet the required quality. The re-implementation focused on improving the quality of the code, improving the performance bottlenecks and simplifying site maintainability;
  • Supporting the 1st level support team.

Chairing the Design Authority to make sure all key decisions had input of the team in Waterford.

We worked very successfully in this near-shore model. London and Waterford are easy to commute between. We also regularly used web and voice conferencing.

The Solution

The designed architecture contained in excess of 70 interfaces across more than 30 systems. Having led the COBAL Architecture Team, in April 2007 Shashin Shah, Managing Director of Onepoint Consulting was requested to lead the Architecture and Solution work stream and head up the Design Council for the Transition Programme. Three Onepoint Consulting Architects and a Onepoint Consulting Project Manager were tasked to deliver the Enterprise Architecture.

Onepoint also managed a five person Business Process Team who delivered the business. processes for Product, Marketing Fulfillment and Revenue Assurance using the eTOM (enhanced Telecoms Operator Map) framework.

The Outcome

The Architecture Team delivered a robust AOL Broadband Enterprise Architecture. By investing 3% of the Programme Cost we set the reference in the design and implementation of TSA workstream project solutions – 97% of the Programme Cost.

By having the Enterprise Architecture fully defined with an agreed Governance Structure, this allowed the Architects to address specific business and technical issues raised during the Programme. In total 28 Architectural Decision papers were produced that defined the solution to be implemented. The benefit to the Business was in the provision of a coherent set of solutions that adhered to the overall Enterprise Architecture.

With the Architecture and Process Teams working closely together there was a significant intangible business benefit. As issues arose these could be addressed and resolved at system, operational and support levels. In doing so we provided Business Readiness and Business Operations Teams with a high degree of confidence of our ability to deliver practical workable solutions.