Syndesis Ups Provisioning Ante
The company claims additions to its Netprovision suite, due to be unveiled next week, will let carriers automatically define and set policies for IP services over multivendor optical, ATM (asynchronous transfer mode), and DSL (digital subscriber line) networks.
Syndesis is among the first independent software vendors (ISVs) to claim support for provisioning IP services over optical nets. The announcement is significant, because automated provisioning tools that support multivendor equipment are crucial to the future of optical networks. Without them, carriers won't be able to justify their optical investments, or continue to build on them in the future (see Automate or Suffocate and Top 10 Trends).
"Syndesis is responding to an important growth area," says Larry Goldman, senior analyst at research firm Ryan Hankin Kent Inc. (RHK). He says two key elements -- automation and multivendor support -- will be essential for product success.
Syndesis is attempting to address both demands. The new products include Netprovision Creator 2.0, the basic package used to set up a provisioning system, and Netprovision Activator 3.4, which actually configures network equipment. The Netprovision Creator, loaded onto a server in a carrier network, automatically locates and sets up connections to equipment. It provides an interface that lets carriers specify various types of services based on this inventory of gear. Then the Netprovision Activator comes into play: This software interacts directly with multivendor DWDM (dense wavelength-division multiplexing) gear, routers, and Layer 3 equipment to configure ports and settings that match the carrier's request.
Syndesis also has written interfaces to link Netprovision to a carrier's operations support systems (OSSs) and network management systems, ensuring that orders for service are logged and billed appropriately and any changes are recorded in the Syndesis database.
Without these tools, carriers would be forced to configure devices individually in order to set up new services -- a process that could take months and require lots of manual intervention, virtually negating the payback opportunity for optical gear.
Today, Syndesis's software works with routers from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and IP provisioning gear from Redback Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RBAK).
"There's no reason it won't work with Juniper [Nasdaq: JNPR], too," says vice president for marketing Martin Steinmann. But he hints that Cisco, a key Syndesis partner, may not want to encourage the vendor to publicize this capability. Instead, Syndesis will probably wait for customers to specifically request it before officially touting it.
Syndesis's new software is integrated into an optical portion of the company's software suite, which works with equipment from Cisco, Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN), Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), and Sycamore Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SCMR).
Despite Syndesis's apparent breakthrough, experts say it's too soon for major kudos. The main reason is that several other players, most notably Emperative Inc. and Nortel (via its purchase of telecom software maker Architel in April 2000) also have been working hard in the multivendor provisioning arena and have made similar claims.
The proof will come when these provisioning tools can be shown to operate in live carrier networks. And that remains to be seen. So far, Syndesis appears to have a solid customer base, but deployments are still in the nascent stage. Syndesis acknowledges that just because its software streamlines the process of service provisioning doesn't mean it doesn't take time to get it up and running properly.
Startup Ethernet carrier Yipes Inc., for example, says it's not ready to comment on its use of Syndesis's software, even though it's listed as a key customer on Syndesis's Web site. "We're under development with the Syndesis product -- we don't have enough experience to comment," said a Yipesperson.
-- Mary Jander, senior editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com