AFIBER is a challenger in many ways. They challenge traditional fiber operators with a new way to manage and offer fiber services. As one of our customers we are interested to find out how they use our software to take on the ‘big guns’ in fiber optic networks.
In their office in Heemstede (NL) we find both CTO Remco Kaphorst and MD Jochem de Gruyter at the table. The big screen in the meeting room displays a map of their fiber network in and around the city of Amsterdam, and a second glance shows that the map is neatly positioned within the well-known PATCH MANAGER application interface. That’s a good start for a story on the PATCH MANAGER-AFIBER relationship.
PATCH MANAGER, both the company and the product, are a key partner for AFIBER they tell. “So how did that partnership commence?” we asked.
Kaphorst: “AFIBER is a greenfield operation. We started two years ago with just the knowledge, by our own experience, that fiber connectivity offerings were quite frustrating. Three weeks to get a quote and six months delivery lead-time was considered ‘normal’. We both come from the media- and entertainment industry where those time frames were just unworkable.”
With that in mind, AFIBER took a freshman’s look at the standard business processes and concluded that there was room for improvement. The key aspect for that improvement was digitalization. ”As long as you have all the information of all your network components digitized in a database you only need clever software to do the rest” according to Kaphorst. So he started looking for a tool that could help in setting up a complete digital asset inventory. After having spent considerable time investigating the market for the best solution he finally came into contact with Michael Kentrop of PATCH MANAGER. “I was pleasantly surprised to find that the PATCH MANAGER HQ was actually located almost around the corner,” he said. “But more importantly: they clearly understood what we were looking for and their product was a good match for our needs.”
From that moment on they became a PATCH MANAGER customer. AFIBER learned from the way that the PATCH MANAGER software was constructed and they started to integrate their own system on top of PATCH MANAGER using its REST APIs. De Gruyter continues: “By supporting multiple GIS protocols with templates it was very easy to enter our network into the database. During this process we asked for small adjustments and new features on many occasions. “We enjoyed their mixture of flexibility and professionalism. Never had any issues with new releases or upgrades; the system remained stable at all times. Coming from a software background ourselves we know how challenging that can be.”
The world of fiber optics is developing at an exponential pace, like all other IT-related markets. Most of the operators though are stuck with legacy software and can’t offer the agility clients ask for these days. Because they don’t have all (!) of the details of their physical network available in real-time, it can take weeks to come up with an offer. At AFIBER, customers can generate an online offer for a connection themselves. By just entering points A and B, the system returns a preferred path and a price, including all of the operational details. That is a big advantage compared to the current way of doing business. Not just AFIBER’s customers or prospects benefit from this automated platform. Their own operations department is just as happy because they know exactly what they will encounter when they open up a manhole or go to a PoP for maintenance. The system always reflects the actual situation 100% of the time. There is simply no room for error. This is a cutting edge advantage over other fiber operators as it reduces the maintenance costs significantly.
In the future our automated back office will be even more advantageous according to de Gruyter. “New developments at the photonics level of data transmission opens up a whole set of new possibilities that require a very flexible infrastructure operation like ours. ‘Flex-grid’ optical networks will allow for more and faster data transport than current technologies. The major players in the industry have committed to this new way of fiber optic data transport. Flex-grid will soon enter our market but it will be very difficult for the traditional fiber operators to make use of the flexibility that is possible with this protocol.”
Security can also make a giant leap when encryption is done at the photonic level. It would bypass all the hassle and user mistakes when sending classified information over long distance fiber networks. AFIBER is ready to implement these services in their operations. No other work needs to be done than installing the new equipment that supports this new technology. It is our software, based on the PATCH MANAGER cable and asset management database that makes it easy to implement”. The future is already part of the system so to speak.
We at PATCH MANAGER are pleased to see such good use of our system. Customers like AFIBER have a deep understanding of the capabilities of the PATCH MANAGER platform and they appreciate our perfectionism. Kaphorst elaborates: ”the consistency of quality throughout the whole organization, whether you speak to the CEO or an engineer, always gives you the confidence of working with professionals’.
AFIBER is a relative small player in the world of fiber network operators but their approach is simple and straightforward: It’s the software that makes all the difference. Coming from the software industry they know how to make great software. The fact that they have chosen PATCH MANAGER as their underlying cable and asset management environment makes us very proud. We foresee a great future for AFIBER. For them and for all of our other customers we continuously seek to improve our products to enable them to stand out from the crowd.