Customer Success Story:Helsinki Telephone


  • Provide high quality, efficient phone service activation for corporate and residential customers by automating the ordering process
  • Bring service applications to market quickly for competitive advantage
  • Provide superior customer service, ease of use and flexibility, without compromising security


  • On-line service ordering using web interface for ease of use
  • Multivendor environment with MVS mainframes running CICS, UNIX and NT servers
  • Multi-tier model using DCE/9000 for secure distributed infrastucture, interoperability and application intercommunication with extensibility
  • Web interface provided by Distributed Software Solutions web page generation software integrated with Gradient Web Crusader


  • Improved customer service through easy instant access to service ordering and monitoring of service quality
  • Consistency of customer contract, order and service status information
  • Authentication and authorization of users for secure access to applications with audit capability
  • Competitive advantage through time to market for new application, ease of use, and improved customer service

On-line Service Provisioning at Helsinki Telephone

A Competitive World

Today’s telecommunication operators face a highly competitive environment. The global trend towards deregulation and increasing competition presents remarkable opportunities for growth. Telecom operators are introducing various flexible instruments to efficiently respond to their customers’ needs. Traditional customer phone-in-consultancy-services are still used and are suitable for many customer segments, yet the drive for increased customer responsiveness will continue to dictate the need for additional service delivery channels.

In Finland the telecommunication competition is intense. There are three major groups: Finnet Group, Telecom Finland and Telivo. Helsinki Telephone is part of the Finnet Group that consists of 46 operators. Helsinki Telephone is the largest independent telephone company in Finland with 710,030 subscribers and a 90% market share in the Helsinki area. We will discuss their service provisioning challenges from a single operator’s point of view.

Business Process Issue: Service Provisioning

Service provisioning is a process that is used for enabling or activating new services for an operator’s customer. Today the corporate and residential customers call the operator customer care department and make a request for changing their current service set. The operator then places the order, handles the service billing and uses the provisioning process to activate the service. This process can be time consuming and prone to errors. A new additional channel was needed for offering fast, efficient service ordering to Helsinki Telephone Company corporate and residential customers. An on-line solution for customer ordering was proposed.

Challenges: A Secure Interoperability Framework

Helsinki Telephone’s current IT environment is heterogeneous and consists of MVS mainframes with UNIX and NT servers. Telecommunication exchanges are from three separate vendors Ericsson, Nokia and Siemens. Since on-line service provisioning was the target solution, an application interoperability framework was needed to gain access to information resources in the telecommunication network and from several information systems. It was determined that an Internet technology base would be the most attractive if the application services were offered to a wide variety of in-house users or external customers. This brought up many challenging security issues.

Solution: DCE/9000 and HP Professional Services

HP's PSO managed the entire project and their unique methodology was used for multi-vendor co-operation and designing needed service interfaces. Distributed information technology infrastructure and telecommunication network interoperability requirements were such that DCE/9000 was an ideal choice for the underlying infrastructure. DCE/9000 provided a framework that enables safe application intercommunication with extensibility.

To speed up the applications’ adoption in the company, a familiar web interface was used. This web interface was implemented using DSS (Distributed Software Solutions, Inc) dynamic web page generation software that was integrated with Gradient Inc.’s Web Crusader product. Gradient is an HP Mission Critical DCE/9000 partner, and Web Crusader provides a security infrastructure for the development and deployment of secure, web-based applications.

For direct telephone exchange access MDS SAS (Subscriber Administration System) was used, a product of Helsinki Telephone's Comptel subsidiary, which offers exchange type independent access to subscriber resources.

Service Assurance and Quality of Service as First Phases

The first phase began with a service assurance phase. A major benefit of this application is to guarantee the consistency of the on-line subscriber’s contract information, order information and exchange supplementary service status. The second phase concentrates on quality of service where Helsinki Telephone can constantly monitor the level of service delivery quality.

The third phase is focused on security deployment. The application services now communicate with DCE which enables strong authentication and auditing capabilities. Every web user will be authenticated to the system, and this information will be logged whenever the user accesses contract, order or telephone exchange information. Future phases will further enable web based on-line provisioning.

Implementing New Applications Faster with Multi-tier Approach

Service provisioning and service assurance challenges can be solved in various ways including the traditional point solution approach. However, effective application deployment in the long term requires broader evaluation of the information system needs of the entire environment. It is possible to address these software development challenges by building distributed application services that can be utilized by Intranet/Internet web-users.

The approach used is referred to as the multi-tier model and it enables systems and applications to interoperate more easily than in the past and allows reuse of services. Major effort in this project has been spent constructing a gateway from UNIX to mainframe’s MVS CICS services which enables these services to be used from applications running outside the mainframe. The mainframe can now be considered as a middle tier application server with hundreds of potential CICS services to be employed.

Application Interoperability Model as a Service Development Platform

There are various telecommunication application interoperability standards like TINA and DPE. These are object based approaches requiring various technical components be built into the application infrastructure. Considering the tight project schedule, it was determined that DPE, while a robust architecture, was more comprehensive than required in this case.

Helsinki Telephone Company’s pilot framework was designed to be a more lightweight ECMA styled platform which enables application interoperability. The framework consists of component based application services with well defined service interfaces and infrastructure services. The application interfaces are used when the service consumer is a user or another application service. Infrastructure services are centralized third party security, connection management between services, and an application specific asynchronous event management service.

Web Interface with Dynamic HTML Page Generation

One of the biggest challenges was to get the GUI generated on the fly and being able to connect the browser to arbitrary information sources in the company information infrastructure - while maintaining the high level of security. The service assurance and quality of service applications access corporate resources such as subscriber supplementary data from telephone exchanges and customer related data from UNIX and MVS platforms.

PGE (Page Generation Engine) software was developed for this purpose. PGE is an HTML template-based integration layer that connects GUI page layouts to corporate data resources at runtime. Developers define the HTML page layouts as templates that apply to Helsinki Telephone Company GUI style guide. Data handling is dynamic and the issue of manipulating variable length lists and arrays is taken care by the PGE.

End-to-End Security

The client-server model always introduces security challenges: how does the application server know that the service requesting the application is not an attacker? Security mechanisms like authentication, auditing and authorization are used to solve this problem in the multi-tier model. The first two phases of the project enabled these security mechanisms in this distributed multi-vendor environment. The third phase of the project forces users to be authenticated so that every application service can authorize the user and control their access for corporate data retrieval or update. Gradient Inc.’s Web Crusader product is integrated with the PGE page generator in order to provide the benefits of strong authentication.

DCE/9000: A Foundation for the Extended Enterprise

The rapidly changing telecommunication business in Finland affects the current information systems infrastructure. Due to rising consumer expectations, the applications in an IT infrastructure must be capable of integrating to new or existing technologies and resources to solve a given business challenge. Service provisioning is a challenge that can be solved either with proprietary, tailored integrations or with a reusable component-based approach. Typically there are large number of integrations to be implemented.

Initial evaluations at Helsinki Telephone Company have proved the security and long term cost-effectiveness of a DCE infrastructure model to be superior to a dedicated custom integration approach. The important considerations are to build a solid framework for centralized management and interconnectivity while maintaining a high level of security, and to keep as many doors open as possible for extensibility to future technologies. A DCE/9000 infrastructure can provide the necessary foundation for extending a company's reach to partners and customers, now and in the future.