A Sneak Peek Into Atoga

What would a party be without Atoga?

Details about Atoga Systems' upcoming edge product are trickling out. The yet-unnamed box is expected to be in trials with carrier customers sometime in the first quarter of 2001. From the description Atoga has given of its product architecture, FastApp, it will join a crowd of companies who are all aiming to give carriers a way to charge more for differentiated network services (see Atoga Intros 'FastApp' Architecture).

The company says it's building a box that allows carriers to be able to charge for per-user, per-application service-level agreements. Using their product, Atoga says, a carrier could provide all the promises of policy-based networking. In other words, the carrier could define its network’s priorities by user or application, while conserving as much bandwidth as possible and charging for each bit used (see Atoga Systems ).

What is known is that Atoga’s box will combine an IP router with a Sonet add/drop multiplexer (ADM) and a wavelength-division multiplexer (WDM) access box. The product’s secret ingredient is in the control circuitry surrounding the WDM function and in the control software, says Cüneyt Özveren, Atoga’s president and CEO. The software, in particular, will allow carriers to assign wavelengths depending on how much bandwidth an application will need or how busy the network is.

If Atoga succeeds, it will let carriers simplify the process of delivering bandwidth-chewing services to users. Rather that having to manually rig a network path each time a corporate customer changes its mind about some service, carriers will, theoretically, be able to point a mouse, click a couple of times, and supply more bandwidth where it's needed.

This kind of policy-based networking will be especially helpful to application service providers (ASPs) and competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) who need to deliver applications to several customers through a single device, says Andrew McCormick, a senior analyst at Aberdeen Group Inc..

Of course, Atoga isn’t the only company thinking along those lines. There are several startups that are honing in on that sweet spot within metropolitan area networks. Among them are Appian Communications, Amber Networks Inc., Netrake Corp., and Quarry Technologies Inc. (see Quarry Mines IP For Gold , Netrake Develops a Tool for the Edge, Amber Illuminates Edge Product, and Appian Peps Up Provisioning).

While each vendor may appeal to different kinds of carriers, carrier economics will ultimately pick the winners here. “If they can prove [to carriers] that the cost per bit, cost per interface, or cost per customer is lower with their platform, that's what it's really all about,” says McCormick.

-- Phil Harvey, senior editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com

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