Lucent Focuses on Acuity
Seeking to tie together its optical, Ethernet, and IMS offerings, Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) today announced a series of new products based on a software architecture emphasizing session management and quality of service (QOS) capabilities.
Part of the package -- an architecture that Lucent calls Acuity -- will be the Universal Packet Mux (UPM), an optical and packet-based transport platform, and the Lucent Resource Manager, a policy-based session control element designed to provide QOS for various applications on the network.
The (UPM) includes capabilities for WDM transport, ROADM, Ethernet and multiprotocol label switching (MPLS), packet switching, and time division multiplexing (TDM).
It's a new approach for Lucent, though it sounds similar to the Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN) FlexSelect -- an "any service to any port" approach to metro networking. (See Ciena Claims DWDM Coup.) It also sounds a bit like Alcatel's "4xAny service concentrator," which enables up to four different protocols to be multiplexed onto a single wavelength. (See Alcatel Spruces Up SDH Box.) The overall goal of each approach is giving carriers the ability to make their metro transport networks more flexible and more responsive to the requirements of the video-based service traversing networks today.
Lucent said these new products, working in conjunction with Lucent’s new portfolio of routers -- recently acquired from Riverstone -- will all operate in an integrated way to allow carriers to provide QOS based on application and policy.
The architecture also uses Lucent's Base Station Router announced in February 2006, and its Multimedia Access Platform (MMAP), announced in October 2005. (See Lucent Unveils Mini 3G Router and Lucent Unveils Access God Box).
Lucent's touting its new converged architecture as primed for demanding new applications such as IPTV. For example, says Lucent, it can now integrate the Riverstone routers into the portfollio, which will offer Layer 2 and Layer 3 switching and routing, IP, MPLS, VPLS, HVPLS, and multicast support. By adding the packet-aware UPM product, Lucent claims it will now be able to handle QOS all the way from the broadband edge to the carrier core.
It's a nice sounding vision, but what do you do with that capability in real life? Ken Wirth, president of Lucent's Multimedia Network Solutions group, likes the example of an IPTV customer ordering a pay-per-view movie from a premium channel to which the customer doesn't currently subscribe.
He says with an Acuity architecture in place, the authentication and security of that spur-of-the-moment purchase would be handled instantly with the network providing just the right amount of bandwidth, automatically. "The network is dynamically provisioning that bandwidth from its origin... all the way to your home. It happens real time," Wirth says.
Again, the main points Lucent seems to make is that they're giving service providers a way to use their installed Lucent gear (and some new gear) to build a next-generation network that doesn't require lots of operations and operator intervention to get services to happen at the network's edge.
What isn't exactly clear is how launching a new portfolio architecture will work just months before Lucent closes a deal with Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) -- which has architectures and overlapping product lines of its own.
"Overall, anything that either vendor says about architectures is subject to the merger going through," says Heavy Reading analyst Patrick Donegan.
"As for the strategy and how all the piece parts come together -- it's way early to say, even though everybody keeps asking us those kinds of questions," says Lucent's Wirth.
— R. Scott Raynovich, US Editor, and Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading