Cisco Shouts Out for Voice
Four similar-sounding initiatives represent Cisco's latest push for attention in the voice-services world: the Broadband Local Integrated Services Solution (BLISS) for metro Ethernet; the Voice Infrastructure and Applications (VIA) framework for transport networks; and two sets of features targeted at managed voice services (no clever acronyms).
The idea is to show that Cisco's extant equipment has been tested for interoperability in multiservice networks, particularly for voice traffic. Cisco emphasizes that there's a lot of work behind these acronyms. For example, BLISS encompasses more than two years of integration and testing efforts, says John Shaw, director of marketing.
"To a service provider it's very significant that Cisco has defined and deployed service support at a 'solution' level and not at a box level," he says.
Of course, the importance of voice support hasn't gone unnoticed at rival Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR). Coincidentally, Juniper began its own multiservice thrust today, announcing a new market strategy and a handful of product enhancements (see Juniper Targets Carrier Services).
Voice has been a stumbling block for Cisco and has contributed to the company's troubles getting telco carrier business. "Sure, they can get CLECs to use their equipment," says Kevin Mitchell, analyst with Infonetics Research Inc., noting that Cisco funded some of those CLECs (see Cisco's Learning Experience). "But in terms of full-blown voice deployments in IXCs and RBOCs and incumbent players, they haven't been very successful."
Mitchell notes that the interoperability among networked devices could be important, particularly due to the slightly different spin each vendor places on QOS (quality if service). Likewise, problems could arise as traffic is handed from one carrier's network to another. "For voice-over-IP and more, that's going to be a real problem for carriers to solve," he says.
In addition to its new initiatives, Cisco announced some customers using its network-wide multiservice offerings. BLISS has been implemented at FastWeb SpA, an Italian service provider, and at Bredbandsbolaget AB (B2), a Swedish service provider. VIA is in use with carriers' carrier ITXC Corp. (Nasdaq: ITXC) and Singapore-based SingTel.
Announced customers for "managed voice services" -- by which Cisco gives service providers the ability to manage an enterprise's IP telephony network or multiservice virtual private network -- include Equant (NYSE: ENT; Paris: EQU) and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: FON).
— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading
www.lightreading.com Want to know more? This week, the big cheeses of the optical networking industry are discussing multiservice switching at LightSpeed Europe. Check it out at http://www.lightspeedeurope.com .