NetPlane Aims at Simpler QoS
But putting QoS in place has been no easy task. It requires guiding a packet through the Internet on the best path available at any given moment. Key pieces of that procedure are proprietary -- and therefore expensive.
Today, NetPlane Systems Inc. says it's found one of the missing links. It hopes to decrease the cost of QoS by introducing a software toolkit, the OPTIRoute Traffic Engineering Suite, which it says will provide real-time QoS and traffic engineering to IP and optical networks (see NetPlane Enables QoS).
First, some background on how IP QoS is provisioned: Requests for IP QoS are consolidated by a technology called the Open Shortest Pass First (OSPF) protocol into elements called opaque line statement advertisements (LSAs). These elements are then sent through something called a constrained shortest path first (CSPF) engine. The CSPF engine, in conjunction with a traffic engineering database (TED) that holds information on the network, determines which available route is best positioned to satisfy the customer's demand.
From there, the information is provided to multiprotocol label switch and general multiprotocol label switch (MPLS and GMPLS) as instructions in the form of explicit route objects (EROs). Once the EROs are received, the packets are on their way.
Got all that? Good.
Here’s where NetPlane fits in: The company says it is simplifying this morass of technologies for routers, crossconnects, switches, and related products by offering an "off-the-shelf" CSPF engine and TED. Currently, the suite works with the OSPF protocol only. A version for intermediate system-intermediate system (IS-IS), the other major link state protocol, will be released later this year, says John Fryer, NetPlane’s vice president of marketing.
Having generic CSPFs and TEDs will cut costs for vendors, who formerly would have had to create them from scratch, Fryer says. It will also simplify the adding of new devices and services onto the network. He adds that service providers are expressing interest in the software as a means of modeling network builds and upgrades.
The suite costs about $100,000, Fryer says. It is currently in use by a carrier and a systems vendor, though Fryer would not name the companies.
NetPlane is not the only company working in this space. Data Connection Ltd. (DCL) for one, offers a CSPF engine (see DCL Ships IP Routing Software). Ben Miller, general manager of DCL’s MPLS IP routing and ATM group, says: "Data Connection's CSPF engine, which has been available since February and will be demonstrated by customers at SuperComm, supports distributed calculation of primary and backup routes to support recovery and reroute schemes in both optical and packet networks."
The heightened interest in IP QoS makes this a welcome item. "I think it is an important step," says Marian Stasney, a senior analyst for the Yankee Group. "I think it brings a measure of traffic engineering capacity to the optical world that we haven’t had previously... This is one of the first instances I'm aware of where people are talking about traffic engineering for the optical network."
— Carl Weinschenk, Senior Editor, Light Reading