In August, MCI WorldCom suffered a 10-day intermittent outage of its frame relay network, which it now attributes to internetworking problems between new and old software, and database synchronization issues. Chief Technology Officer Fred Briggs spoke with Executive Editor Carol Wilson.
In hindsight, were there any other options to pursue?
Actually, no. If we could look back and say, 'Gee, if only we'd pushed that green button,' it would be much easier.
How do you rebuild your customers' confidence in your frame relay service?
It's going to take time. It's a matter of executives talking to customers one on one, reinforcing our commitment to them. We do try to explain what happened. But it will take time for us to demonstrate that things will get better.
The outage occurred as you were upgrading Lucent Networks' frame relay equipment. How does this affect your relationship with Lucent?
If I threw out every vendor with whom we had a problem, I'd be manufacturing my own equipment. What matters to us is the follow-up. Lucent has stood shoulder to shoulder with us throughout the outage. They set up a war room at the beginning of the problem. My counterpart, Dan Stanzione [Lucent's chief operating officer and president of Bell Labs] was in the war room 24 hours a day for the length of the outage.
Do we have to accept the vulnerability of data networks?
I remember 20 years ago, when voice networks were not so reliable. MCI made the choice to keep one of each vendor's voice switches in each city we served to have a backup. But we will learn from this experience. We will test things differently. We will learn from this experience.