Yipes/Syndesis Integrate Provisioning Plans

Yipes Communications Inc. this week announced it will be using software from Syndesis Ltd. to help give its customers the ability to order, set up, and be billed for services via point-and-click menus on the Web.

But, as with most self-provisioning stories, there's a catch: It's still much work -- and many months -- away from reality.

To date, only a few companies have been able to surmount the obstacles involved in creating any kind of self-provisioning capabilities, let alone those that enable IP-based optical networks (see Cablevision Pioneers Self Provisioning). The effort requires a massive amount of costly application integration, as well as the creation of special software that can activate IP services across multivendor nets.

Yipes won't be spared any of this hassle. It has the money for the project (it's garnered over $91 million in funding so far), but it's got a lot of work to do. First off, it must integrate its existing management, billing, and sales support software tools -- which Yipes has been collecting for months from a variety of vendors, including Concord Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: CCRD), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HWP), Jyra Research Inc. (OTC BB: JYRA.OB), Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), Micromuse Inc. (Nasdaq: MUSE), Remedy Corp. (Nasdaq: RMDY), Portal Software Inc. (Nasdaq: PRSF), and Siebel Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: SEBL).

Futhermore, some items are missing: Specifically, Yipes needs to buy a usage-based billing package, which would enable customers to order and be billed dynamically for only the IP bandwidth they used. (The Portal system only offers summary bills; it can't track usage.) Today, Yipes customers can view their network utilization and the performance of their services via the Web, but they can't place orders or change anything about their services.

Besides integrating the right products, Yipes also needs to provide interactive capabilities where needed and a GUI with links to all of the third-party software products involved. Here it's sharing part of the work with another company. "We have a prototype of our front-end system working on site," says VP of network architecture Kamran Sistanizadeh.

Sistanizadeh won't say exactly who's working with Yipes on this front-end project, but he says he'll announce a relationship with Eftia OSS Solutions within a few weeks. Eftia is a Canadian startup that just garnered $33 million in funding and specializes in creating and integrating telecom order-entry and other so-called operations support systems (OSSs).

On its side, Syndesis must extend its NetProvision software to support the hardware in Yipes's network. Today, NetProvision sets up IP-based services end to end, using configuration commands for multivendor gear, including products from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Copper Mountain Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: CMTN), Lucent, Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/TSE: NT), and Sycamore Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SCMR). But Yipes's network is based on edge switches from Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR) and core routers from Juniper Networks (Nasdaq: JNPR).

Both Syndesis and Yipes say the work should be easy to complete -- a matter of adding a few SNMP commands linking the new gear to NetProvision. Well, maybe. Syndesis in June announced it would integrate NetProvision with Sycamore's SILVX management system, but it hasn't yet gotten into the hands of Sycamore customers, including the likes of Enron Corp. (NYSE: ENR) and Williams Communications Group (NYSE: WCG). (Sycamore says that will happen before the end of this quarter.)

Incidentally, the cost of NetProvision is high enough to reflect the difficulty of integrating it anywhere: Sycamore customers can expect to pay from $300,000 to $1 million directly to Syndesis in order to be able to provision their lambda-based networks with SILVX. (This cost is additional to the $100,000 minimum required to get Sycamore's base package for provisioning multivendor nets.)

Despite the challenges and expenses, both Yipes and Syndesis seem to be ahead of the curve when it comes to the overall state of self-provisioning for optical services based on multivendor gear. Other vendors are working on the problem, but haven't gotten very far. Lucent, for instance, announced a relationship in June with ISPSoft Inc., which makes IP provisioning software. But Lucent says that product is still in beta, with no multivendor optical capabilities available.

-- Mary Jander, senior editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com

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