The Hammer line is largely known as a test-lab platform used by equipment vendors for checking the output of their products and by service providers testing services in pre-deployment scenarios. The new version will be aimed specifically at network operators.
The new product, Hammer XMS, can be used as a remote diagnostics tool to help monitor live commercial services in their networks, says Empirix marketing manager Gordon Eddy. The product is designed to monitor VOIP and TDM protocols, providing a measure of VOIP service performance and voice quality. It has been in trials with major operators for about six months, says Eddy.
"This is not a product for enterprise users," says Eddy. "It's far more scaleable than they would need. And it's not an OSS product."
The announcement comes as testing and OSS biggies Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A), Spirent plc (NYSE: SPM; London: SPT), and Telcordia Technologies Inc. tool up their product strategies for the VOIP space. But Eddy claims Empirix's product does not compete with the service assurance suppliers such as Agilent and Telcordia.
Empirix won't name its customers, but officials do mention service providers such as AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T), Level 3 Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: LVLT), and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) as potential customers.
So is this the right move for Empirix? Jessy Cavazos, an industry analyst specializing in the communications testing sector at Frost & Sullivan, thinks so. She says Empirix has built a good reputation for its Hammer brand that will help it move from the R&D test labs and into the service-monitoring market.
She says VOIP service monitoring is going to be a significant growth area in the IP telephony test sector in the next few years, and that the likes of Empirix and Spirent are well placed to capitalize on their strong positions in the labs.
She also expects to see other vendors, such as Acterna Corp. and NetTest, make the same sort of move. "This is an emerging market that will change very quickly. The competitive landscape is not set yet," says the analyst.
Although Empirix claims it's not butting in on the main service assurance software players with this move, Cavazos says Agilent is currently the clear leader in the VOIP monitoring space (see Agilent Launches VOIP QOS Tool and Agilent Watches VOIP).
Empirix also expects to announce other news next week (see Empirix Has Growth Spurt). It will officially release Version 2.0 of its VOIP signaling emulation product FX-IP, which it was showing off at this week's Telecom '04 show in Las Vegas (see Empirix Updates VOIP Tester), and it will launch a DSP-based VOIP media analysis tool called IP.DSP, which Empirix claims is much cheaper than other DSP implementations.
— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading
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— VOIP Testers