Business Idea - Network Status Notifications

Saajid

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Hey guys, I was thinking about all the different ISPs, and how we struggle to determine where the problem is when there are network outages. Sometimes the problem is on the ADSL network, or it is an upstream provider, or certain areas have electricity blackouts. So I thought about it, and came up with a business idea that could work out. Since I don't have the time or resources to dedicate to a project of this nature, I would like to share this idea with everyone. Feel free to use this idea in whatever way you feel:

The idea is to start an online database and website to report on the network statuses of all the various Telecoms companies, including ISPs, network operators, cellular operators etc. (I will refer to them as network operators from hereon).

The website has a database of all the network operators.

We allow network operators to register an account on the website, and report on the status of their network.

We also allow the general public to register on the site, and subscribe to get network status notifications of the network operators they choose.

Public users are also allowed, in fact encouraged, to report on network outages as well. This information then gets forwarded on to the network operator in question. Users are also able to rate the network.

That way there is feedback in both directions. And all the information is recorded in one location. All the reports submitted by users, and the network operators will get stored in the database, forever.

We can then produce pretty graphs that show trends over time (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly), for each operator, or groups of operators. We can also get all the clever data mining engineers to extract useful information from this data, and publish it online.

We could use such a site to monitor tier 1 ISPs (IS, SAIX, WebAfrica) as well as the smaller ISPs (Afrihost, Openweb, SAOL, Cybersmart etc), as well as the Cellular Operators (Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, Telkom Mobile), other network operators like iBurst (HC-SDMA), Neotel (CDMA), Infraco, SEACOM, SAT3/SAFE. We also include Telkom's ADSL network notifications as reported by the myBB.BOT robot.

Basically, any company that runs some kind of telecommunications network that is used by the public. We could extend this to include the various Data Centers as well (anyone remember the continuous problems with the MTN NS data center??).

What would be nice as well, would be for the site to have several mirrors, hosted in several local and several international datacenters, to ensure that the site has high-availability, even during during network outages.

This would solve the problem of Network Operators keeping users in the dark about network outages, and encourage a more open dialogue in the industry.

To take this even further, we could write a XML/SOAP web service API, which the network operators can use to interface with their systems directly, should they choose to do so.

ISPs should also be rated not only on the amount of downtime they have, but also on the truthfullness of their reporting (as compared to what end-users are reporting), and the amount of notifications they post. We could have ISPs post an "everything looking OK/good" notification at least once a day.

Funding

Users would be allowed to subscribe to network status notifications for free via email, and via SMS at a small cost.

Network operators could also be charged to make use of the service.

The site could be supported by advertising and/or partnerships with local industry.

What do you guys think?
 
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dabouncer

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Good idea but i doubt Network Operators are going to take any interest.

I suggest you speak nicely to Afrihost or Webafrica or other local server hosts to see if they will host a Nagios box or similar in their data center. You can then have a couple admins who add hosts and checks to the box. Normal internet users can go to the site and see which links are down. There is a network map which you can also integrate Google Earth into for a geographic representation of where routers/hops are sitting. You need a real time checking system.

Nagios could be slightly overkill though... http://www.nagios.org/
 
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Adrenalin

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Right now, I would love for that because DC is driving me mad.

However, making the users pay is a bit of a struggle because not many would a) divulge their info
b) pay the fee (even if it is a small one)

The ISP's should pay. Telkom has alot of my money :D

Just my thoughts.
 

Saajid

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Good idea but i doubt Network Operators are going to take any interest.
They don't need to take interest, if they don't want to. They will still be added to the database, and end-users will still report on the status of their network. We will at least be getting some form of information about their network. If they don't register, or don't post network updates, then their rating will go down gradually, unless they have a solid network, and no-one complains, which is fair-enough.

I think at first they will not be interested, but perhaps later on when the site grows, and more network operators or ISPs sign up, they will not want their ratings to look so bad. So we kind of want to strong-arm them into providing network status notifications. Obviously, it will then be a morally grey area if you charge them, and if you charge them a ridiculously high fee. The charge needs to be fair.

However, making the users pay is a bit of a struggle because not many would a) divulge their info
b) pay the fee (even if it is a small one)

The ISP's should pay.
Users don't have to divulge any info. All that will be needed to register is an email address, a username and a password. Users will only have to pay if they want to receive SMS notifications. And this will be charged to their cellphone account. Or we could just make the SMSs free, or charge them at standard rates to cover the cost. But the rest of the site, information, email notifications, etc, will be free. You will only need to register if you want post a network status notification. Everything else will be publicly viewable.

Getting ISPs to pay will be a bit tricky, unless you are offering them something of value. We don't want such a website to turn into another HelloPeter.com debacle. Hence the XML/SOAP Web Service API.
 
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fragtion

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Great idea aesthetically, but I have to agree it's just not feasible enough practically... stuff is really up 99.9% of the time, and when something breaks, by the time the ISP finds out what the problem is it's usually fixed shortly afterwards, so the detailed cause for the downtime will only become available right before the downtime is over in most cases. Might-as-well stick to forum posts the way we do it now if you ask me ;/
 

Lightscribe

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MyBB.

There.

A discussion panel, frequented by the brightest and most forward thinking individuals, you, or I, or any IT seeker, could only wish to bump into...

One thread. One timeline. One nexus. MyBB.
 

Hummercellc

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DigiChilli, NeoTel & MTN, this would work for them i think? It would be able to bridge the communcation gaps between departments and allow them to be aware of there own problems! :D
 

AmpleHosting

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Dec 17, 2009
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Just a thought - but, how would it work if there are inter connecting networks.

Screamer uses Neotel, Neotel uses their own networks and piggy backs on others,
Web Africa uses saix, is, seacom
Virgin uses Cell c, cell C uses partly their own network and partly vodacom..
etc

Would you report the ISP (Screamer) (web africa) (cell c) or simply say the point of failure and have the customers figure it out? or a combination of both.

I may be wrong about the network connections and how they interconnect above, but you get the picture...

Smart users would figure things out - but not-so-smart ones will still be confused.
 
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