The company I work for moved their corporate offices (with which I am affiliated) a little more than a year ago from Cleveland, Ohio to just down the road in Parma, Ohio. After the move we switched from a single, dedicated T-1 circuit to a series of MPLS circuits that utilize managed (i.e. AT&T owned) Cisco routers. At our two other MPLS sites, their circuits have been up constantly for the past year while the corporate offices in Parma are now experiencing their third major outage. Since many major IT services originate from our corporate office this is an inconvenience to say the least.
I was always cool to MPLS since I never cared for the throughput of it’s precursor, frame relay, however AT&T made a strong case which included nice technical capabilities (class of service mostly) and high cost savings at least in the short term. I’d guess that I’d be mostly satisfied with the service were not for it’s horrible reliability which negates whatever benefit the product might have. I don’t think my expectations are too high; our Internet circuit, which is still in Cleveland, has only had one major outage in the last ten years (though to be fair that’s over the course of four different circuits, but still).
Insult on injury is the fact that AT&T bought Ameritech some years back and the tech support line for the MPLS circuit will constantly refer to the call being referred to the ‘local telco’. THE LOCAL TELCO IS YOU AT&T! I’m amazed that after all this time they haven’t thought of some sort of intra-company integration that might get me an update on my call sometime before thirty minutes after the problem has been fixed. It’s a shame because I remember the Ameritech days when I would actually get to talk to the person who was fixing my issue rather than someone in a far off land staring at a terminal.
Every time this happens I know it’s not my fault, but I was the one who sold it to my company. MPLS in Parma? Thumbs down. Alternatives? None really, especially if you need class of service on the line.
Update 5/29/2009: I want to tip my hat to our current rep who did us right on pushing for and obtaining a full credit that will help cover the costs of this outage. This will definitely make it easier to pitch AT&T products to management in the future, thanks!