Published on April 8th, 2021 | by Jason Patino
The process of deploying and integrating solutions for lawful interception, handover, and analysis of network data is complex, but well-charted. Looking carefully at previously completed projects provides experience and knowledge that can be leveraged to anticipate and avoid the most common pitfalls.
#1: Be Sure Your Statement of Work is Up to the Job
The Statement of Work formalizes expectations for the customer and specifies requirements for the vendor, so it’s in the best interest of everyone for it to be exhaustively specific. For example, achieving five gigabits of throughput is a common requirement cited in lawful interception deployment projects today. However, to properly document that requirement in a statement of work, requires more thorough specification. For instance, how long that throughput needs to be sustained, over what distance, and so on.
#2: Understand the International Compliance Environment
Each country enforces its own regulations around lawful interception, such as CALEA in the United States. Vendors need to assure they know the specific regulations for lawful interception platforms in the country where it is being deployed. Additionally, vendors must also have expertise in securing the right permits and visas for teams to work in various countries for a smooth international deployment. Hardware may add additional layers of complexity—especially in a multi-country project—from getting the electrical specifications right to getting equipment through customs efficiently.
#3 Specify Network Requirements as Precisely as Possible
The network discovery phase of a lawful intelligence deployment must identify the solutions requirements and all likely roadblocks in advance. Thorough documentation of network requirements helps ensure that project teams are aware of factors such as the logical network architecture, whether VLANs are allowed, what firewalls and other security appliances are in place, and much more. Additionally, identifying the managers of the customer’s various network elements and who needs to be involved in the project is also important.
#4: Specify and Validate Interfaces Across Solutions from Multiple Vendors
Clearly identifying the data requirements for all APIs and other software components involved in a project is critical to delivering high-quality lawful intelligence solutions. Software interoperability with technologies from multiple vendors requires significant integration expertise, as well as the knowledge and other resources for thorough interoperability testing. Implementation teams should vet lawful intelligence solutions to favor those that have been pre-validated with offerings from across the telecommunications industry. Having that degree of interoperability assurance before deployment can help minimize delays during implementation.
#5: Integrate Deployment Planning and Execution
During the installation or upgrade of lawful intelligence software, field services engineers (FSEs) depend on Method of Procedure (MoP) documentation to guide them through the steps for a smooth deployment. In cases where that documentation was written by someone other than the FSEs, miscommunications and disconnects often happen. It is therefore vital for the FSEs to be involved in developing the MoP and to pre-test the procedures in a controlled environment before installing the solution in the field on a customer network.
#6: Adequately Equip and Train Production Teams
A well-formed transfer of information from the engineering and deployment teams to the teams that will ultimately use and maintain the solution in production is critical. Tailoring the solution also includes identifying the proper degree of access to information and functionality for various user roles. In addition to being customized to the specific customer implementation, individual training modules should also be tailored to the solution functionality most relevant to each of those specific user groups.
#7: Build a High-Quality Acceptance Test Plan
Anywhere from a half-dozen test cases to two hundred or more may be used to verify the lawful intelligence solution within the customer’s network before go-live. These cases must cover all functional requirements for the solution, so that passing the test regime accurately predicts production-readiness. Tests must be clearly defined to ensure reproducibility, and the test documentation must include guidance about how to interpret the test results, including expected ranges of outcomes. Tests should also be automated as much as possible, to enhance efficiency.
#8: Automate Deployment as Much as Possible
Particularly with the virtualized deployment of lawful intelligence solutions, implementations tend to be increasingly software-based, which lends itself to automated installs, upgrades, and testing. With a growing number of service agreements calling for “push-button” installations with zero downtime, vendors vary in terms of their capabilities for automated, minimally invasive implementations. Lawful intelligence solution providers should be able to support a flexible range of deployment scenarios, across bare-metal, virtual, and cloud.
#9: Ensure Virtual Deployment Expertise on the Team
If the deployment is to be in a virtual environment, members of the deployment team from the customer’s organization must have relevant expertise. In larger organizations, a separate group may be responsible for the virtualized environment, requiring intra-company cooperation. Smaller companies may simply lack experience with virtualized infrastructure altogether, making the addition of third-party expertise a good investment. In either case, accounting for and addressing this requirement early can help avoid added delay and expense later in the project.
#10: Over-Prepare and Don’t Rush
Complex deployments that involve multiple vendors produce vast numbers of details that must be considered, by themselves and in combination, to orchestrate all the pieces of the implementation. Taking the time for in-depth planning, documentation, and testing must be a guiding strategy for every lawful intelligence deployment project. Equally important, project teams must take care to avoid the phenomenon of when a completion deadline (often decided upon far too early in the process) becomes the primary project requirement.
Teams experienced in the deployment of lawful intelligence solutions know how to anticipate and mitigate the challenges and roadblocks that are likely to arise, as well as handling the unforeseeable. With more than 20 years of experience in the field, SS8 has expertise and innovation around lawful intelligence as its sole focus. Building on its industry-leading Xcipio lawful interception and mediation platform for service providers, as well as its Intellego XT lawful intelligence solution for law enforcement, SS8 optimizes deployments, from planning to execution to production. Contact SS8 to learn more about our network intelligence solutions.
About Jason Patino
Jason Patino is a Field Service Manager at SS8 with over 25 years of experience in the telecom industry. He originally joined the team in 2011 coming from Lucent technologies with expertise in the preparation, execution, and completion of integration projects of voice messaging products. In the last 9 years with SS8, Jason has successfully managed multiple integration projects of CALEA solutions within North American communication service providers. Working closely with the largest CSPs in the world, he has proven his ability to manage and analyze customer needs in the planning process of a project and transfer those needs to the integration process when deploying various Messaging and CALEA products in a customer network. Jason worked his way through the telecom industry while obtaining a BA from the University of Texas at Dallas. He has lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas for most of his life and currently lives there with his wife and children
SS8 provides Lawful Intelligence platforms. They work closely with leading intelligence agencies, communication providers, law enforcement agencies and standards bodies and their technology incorporates the methodologies discussed in this blog. Xcipio® is already proven to meet the very high demands of 5G and provides the ability to transcode (convert) between lawful intercept handover versions and standard families. Intellego® XT natively supports ETSI, 3GPP and CALEA handovers, as well as national variants. Intellego XT’s MetaHub component is a best-in-class data analytics tool. Both product portfolios are used worldwide for the capture, analysis and delivery of data for the purposes of criminal investigations.