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Ellacoya Elaborates

Today Ellacoya Networks Inc. will take two steps forward in its quest to become a leader in service provisioning, when it announces that its products are shipping and that it has lined up its first customers. It will also provide new details about its product line.

Ellacoya looks to automate the rollout of Internet-based services to mass consumer markets. That's a big deal for a lot of carriers who can't find (and can't afford) the skilled staff they need for installing broadband connections, processing orders, and providing customer support (see Automate or Suffocate ).

Ellacoya's family of switches and software aims to solve the problem by providing an idiot-proof way for users to connect their own PCs, get up and running on the Internet, and then select and pay for services, all under their own steam.

According to the vendor, it’s been shipping its Service Generation System (SGS) suite of service provisioning products since July 31. It lists two customers for its products: Vialight Inc., and V.Cities. (It’s worth noting that these are tiny providers; Ellacoya has yet to land a kingmaker account).

There are five components to the SGS product line. The most important is a directory that stores information about the network, its users, and the services and applications that they subscribe to (see Ellacoya Boosts Broadband Business Case).

The directory communicates with Service Generation Switches -- hardware systems that are responsible for identifying applications traffic down to an individual subscriber level and converting it into IP flows.

Then there’s the Service Creation Manager, a management tool that allows carriers to provision services and create new subscriber profiles.

Ellacoya also sells the Business Logic Server -- middleware that uses standards-based interfaces such as XML, JAVA, and CORBA to integrate SGS-based services into existing service architectures, and to enable its products to communicate with applications from other vendors, including billing or customer care packages.

Finally, there’s the Personal Application Desktop (PAD). This is a graphical user interface that runs on end users’ machines. It provides them with a portal to the services that they already have subscribed to, and gives them a way to subscribe to other services. It also provides a jumpoff point to other applications, including desktop apps. And it gives the service provider a place to run banner advertisements, thus creating a new revenue stream for them. The PAD software personalizes each user’s information based on data that it sucks out of the SGS directory.

“The PAD gives service providers a foothold on the user’s desktop, and a way to increase and diversify their revenues by delivering not only network services but also applications and even advertising,” says Kurt Dobbins, Ellacoya’s founder and president.

Ellacoya has plenty of competition, both from startups like VillaMontage Systems Inc. (see Bay's House Is Back) and established players like Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), with its Shasta product, and Redback Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RBAK) -- which recently strengthened its service provisioning capabilities by spending $636 million in stock to buy Abatis Systems, a developer of IP service creation and management tools (see Redback to Acquire Abatis Systems).

Then there’s Network Equipment Technologies Inc. (NYSE: NWK). The former ATM vendor is reinventing itself as a service provisioning player. It takes a different approach than Ellacoya's, working with third-party directories rather than bundling one as part of its own product set (see N.E.T. To Stage Come-Back ). “We don’t make the directory. It’s a better idea to work with a directory vendor -- they’re the experts, and that technology moves so quickly,” says Bert Whyte, NET's president and CEO. "Service providers want to be able to use different directories. They don’t want to be locked into a single solution,” he adds.

-- Stephen Saunders, US Editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com

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