Published on April 12th, 2022 | by Jamie Barton, Jeff Bland & Robert Reisig
Technical support is critical to the lawful intelligence mission, for both the mediation systems operated by communication service providers (CSPs) and the analytics and investigation platforms used by law enforcement agencies (LEAs). CSPs face potential regulatory liability if they suffer an outage, and criminal and intelligence investigations may be compromised if the evidence they depend on is not accessible when it’s needed. This article identifies the service and support-related questions to consider when choosing a lawful intelligence vendor.
Question #1: What Level of Support Expertise is Available?
It is critical to have access to support teams with deep domain knowledge about both the specific platform itself and lawful intelligence regulatory frameworks. Seasoned, specialized support resources with a proven track record of resolving issues quickly and decisively provide a distinct advantage to all parties, and customers should be wary of vendors that outsource the service function to third parties. As an industry leader for over two decades, SS8 maintains a best-in-class support organization with skills and expertise in all aspects of our solutions, telecommunications network operations, and lawful intelligence investigations. Every service representative has the technical knowledge and industry experience to interface with both engineers and business owners. The support relationship also includes a direct pipeline into the SS8 engineering organization, so authoritative insight into the most complex technical issues is readily available.
Question #2: Are there Limitations on 24/7/365 Support?
The support function for the lawful intelligence platform must always be available, regardless of the time or date; regulatory compliance and investigative support are a 24/7/365 job. Incident response must also be described in service-level agreements (SLAs), with language that guarantees the resources and services the vendor will provide, and on what schedule. SS8’s support resources are always accessible, so any incident can be triaged immediately. Our user-friendly, front-end interface for service tickets automatically engages the correct resolution teams, regardless of the time, and our standard SLA outlines all aspects of the service agreement. It can also be tailored to the individual needs of the customer.
Question #3: What’s the Troubleshooting Process?
To be effective, troubleshooting must be adaptable to the needs of each incident, using a dynamic decision tree rather than a linear queue. At a practical level, the process requires immediate, detailed, and ongoing assessment of the problem from an operational perspective as well as a technical one. Incident management must also address any associated service impacts to the fullest extent. SS8 support teams understand both the operational impacts of incidents and the technical details that cause them. Our platform integrates with customer operations through an intuitive, powerful web portal that streamlines troubleshooting and provides access to skilled, experienced lawful intelligence service professionals. This efficiency contributes to early identification and prioritization of critical issues, and ultimately, to faster resolution of incidents.
Question #4: How are the Support Tiers Structured?
The maturity of a vendor’s support organization is significant in how it responds to issues – especially those that require arcane or obscure knowledge. Some providers reduce support costs by limiting Level 1 triage resources to rudimentary break-fix and ticket creation. While this approach can be cost-effective for the provider, it extends incident resolution with excessive escalation delays that only increase with the complexity of the issue. Level 1 support technicians at SS8 are qualified telecom engineers who can analyze technical issues immediately. This deep expertise stretches across the telecom and lawful intelligence industries, including network topologies, protocols, and architectures. Engaging SS8 support services provides customers a critical resource, including an engineering liaison for complex incidents.
Question #5: How Transparent is the Escalation Path?
Transparency of incident escalation and resolution paths is vital, both during an incident and when reporting, tracking, and managing outcomes. This ensures that customers know the relevant service contacts and status of incidents and can track key metrics such as mean time to repair (MTTR). SS8 gives customers multi-dimensional insight into the support status of their lawful intelligence platforms. The real-time status of each case is maintained on a customer portal, and users can report on a single case or summarize metrics across a range of cases. Weekly case reviews with SS8 staff gives customers visibility into each incident, while quarterly business reviews offer a hands-on review of program-level outcomes. These processes for engaging and empowering customers underpin SS8’s strategic model for world-class support.
The quality of support for a lawful intelligence platform can be as important as the platform itself. To provide comprehensive, industry-leading solutions for both CSPs and LEAs, SS8 engineering resources are seamlessly integrated across both product development and support, creating a differentiated service platform that optimizes the lawful intercept function for all parties.
About Jamie Barton
Jamie Barton is Head of Global Services for SS8 and has over 20 years of experience supporting, designing, and maintaining communication networks and infrastructure. At SS8 he leads the client services team of lawful intelligence experts and manages all SS8 customer relationships. He is responsible for the development and execution of SS8’s client management strategies and works closely with leadership to ensure consistent implementation with our clients around the world. You can learn more about Jamie on his LinkedIn profile by clicking here.
About Jeff Bland
Jeff Bland has 23 years of experience in building and operating telecommunications and IT networks. He has led the deployment, operations, and technology uplifts for customer-facing applications in the carrier space. He has participated in 3GPP standards development and has specialized in telecommunication systems signaling protocols. At SS8 Jeff manages the delivery and software implementation into the customer’s network. Jeff has a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Arkansas. You can learn more about Jeff on his LinkedIn profile here.
About Robert Reisig
As Global Technical Program Manager, Robert Reisig is responsible for the Project Management Lifecycle at SS8. He possesses over 25 years of experience in the communications industry, including Cryptologic Communications while in the United States Navy, and extensive experience in location-based services solutions and messaging software. An accomplished Project Manager, Robert ensures successful outcomes for clients. Robert is a graduate of the University of Phoenix and has a Masters Six Sigma Certification from Villanova University. You can learn more about Robert here, on his LinkedIn profile.
About SS8 Networks
SS8 provides Lawful Intelligence platforms. They work closely with leading intelligence agencies, communication providers, law enforcement agencies and standards bodies. Their technology incorporates the methodologies discussed in this blog and the Xcipio® and Intellego® XT product portfolios are used worldwide for the capture, analysis, and delivery of data for the purposes of criminal investigations.