Session Controllers Storm Chicago

CHICAGO – Supercomm – With VOIP such a hot topic, this year's Supercomm was a great opportunity for the session border controller vendors to trumpet their news and disparage each others' products -- and they did both with equal gusto.

All the players in this niche, but growing, market are feeling confident just now, as a major carrier seems to announce a VOIP deployment about every other day (see Qwest Launches National VOIP , Cable & Wireless Selects Nortel for VOIP, and SBC's $6 Billion Banquet).

Those deployments are fueling demand for session border controllers, which, among many things, help IP sessions, such as SIP calls, traverse multiple IP networks and get through firewalls (see Session Controllers Kick Off).

That demand, reckons The Yankee Group, will take the session controller market from a tiny market last year to one generating $1.2 billion in revenues by 2008 (see Session Controller Market to Explode).

So what was the loudest session controller noise at Supercomm? The highlights were:

  • Netrake Corp. announced some new partnerships and product enhancements and a new customer in the form of VOIP services newcomer Z-Tel Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: ZTEL). (See Netrake Partners With SS8 & Sipura, Netrake Upgrades, Supports CALEA, Netrake Wins Z-Tel Deal, and Z-Tel Offers VOIP to Businesses.)

    That's not an amazing deal in itself, except Z-Tel was unveiled as a customer by Netrake's arch rival Acme Packet earlier this year (see Z-Tel Gets Into VOIP). So why double up so soon? "They decided they needed something that actually functions," says Micaela Giuhat, Netrake's VP of global alliances. Meeow!.

    The company will announce further customers to its existing eight soon, including Time Warner Telecom Inc. (Nasdaq: TWTC) and a "large PTT in Europe," says corporate communications director Capriccio Martin.

  • So what is Acme Packet's view of the Z-Tel situation? Marketing VP Jim Hourihan says it's no great loss to the company. He says Z-Tel was a high maintenance customer, and that Acme has bigger fish to fry. "We're focused on the Tier 1 carriers," states Hourihan. "That's our target market."

    He claims Acme's 45 deployments include contracts with six of the world's 10 biggest fixed-line carriers, including previously unannounced China Unicom Ltd.; and he even managed to get some of those companies to sing Acme's praises at a private presentation during Supercomm. Telefònica SA CTO Vicente San Miguel and Global Crossing Holdings Ltd. (Nasdaq: GLBC) VP of product commercialization (honest) Dennis Morton were among the service providers explaining how they would help manage and deliver IP-based services using Acme as part of the mix.

    And Mario Bruketa, president of Italtel SpA, which is the lead integrator for Telecom Italia SpA (NYSE: TI), says he has deployed Acme's product in the Italian operator's network because "Acme has a product that works, they are easy to work with, and they offer a good price."

  • Next up was NexTone Communications Inc., which offers a different perspective on the industry, as well as some news (see NexTone Partners With BroadSoft and NexTone Wins in Australia).

    While the likes of Acme Packet and Netrake are adamant that session border controllers will remain as standalone products, NexTone's VP of marketing Dan Dearing (he's more exciting than plain old Dan Dare) says edge-of-network functions, such as firewall and NAT traversal, will be included in edge routers from big guns such as Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR).

    That's one of the scenarios suggested by a Light Reading Insider report published earlier this year (see Session Controllers: Limited Lifespan?).

    "These other companies are spending their VCs' money on hardware that's going to be subsumed into MPLS edge routers. Effectively, they're going head-to-head with the likes of Cisco," reckons Dearing.

    So NexTone is developing its product to focus on core network functions, and will announce details later this year. The company must be doing something right so far: It has about 140 service provider customers and is growing and developing its technology all the time.

    That's an expensive business, so does NexTone need some more money? Dearing says some funding news will be announced in the next few weeks.

  • Kagoor Networks was more focused on its own development. It's aiming to forge partnerships with large equipment vendors that can get it in the door of the large operators. Having already announced NEC Corp. (Nasdaq: NIPNY; Tokyo: 6701) as a partner, this week it struck a deal with Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE). (See NEC Selects Kagoor and Siemens Resells Kagoor Controllers.)

    The latest deal should hardly come as a surprise, though, as Siemens Venture Capital (SVC) invested in Kagoor recently (see Siemens Props Up Kagoor). Marketing VP Jim Greenway says the Siemens deal will give it a good route into the German vendor's many fixed and mobile operator customers, and now Kagoor is looking at how it can break into the cable/MSO market.

    Greenway says carriers are demanding more functionality in the current spate of RFPs, so just before Supercomm, Kagoor also announced some technical advances and the opening of an office in Tokyo (see Kagoor Upgrades Its SBCs and Kagoor Opens in Tokyo ).

  • And finally, the new kid on the session controller block, Newport Networks Ltd., was showing off the product it's due to officially launch next month (see Newport Goes to Supercomm).

    It also announced a relationship with SIP application server vendor Ubiquity Software Corp., and the two companies had further meetings during the show "about the next stage of our partnership," says Newport's director of business development Ron Schwartz (see Newport, Ubiquity Partner on VOIP).

    He adds that< during the show, Newport got three verbal commitments from service providers for trials of its 1460 session controller.

    — Ray Le Maistre, International Editor, Boardwatch

  • zher 12/5/2012 | 1:29:58 AM
    re: Session Controllers Storm Chicago We have been using SBCs for a while, really cool
    stawdema 12/5/2012 | 1:29:46 AM
    re: Session Controllers Storm Chicago whose SBC do you use and how would you rate it ?
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