AlcaLu Takes VPN Apps Into the Cloud
The product -- a half-slot hardware module that can be housed in the vendor's 7750 services router or 7450 aggregation router -- is called the Application Assured Integrated Services Adapter (AA-ISA). The hardware is available now, while the accompanying reporting software hits the streets in early June.
The launch is a follow-up to last year's enhancements to the 7750 and 7450 product lines when AlcaLu added DPI capabilities that allowed service providers to manage generic IP traffic by application on their network. (See AlcaLu Beefs Up Its Routers.)
Now the vendor has taken that one step further to tackle the managed delivery of "cloud-based" IP applications running over enterprise VPNs.
Essentially, the AA-ISA enables operators to offer a suite of application-specific managed services to enterprise VPN customers without the need to install new customer premises equipment (CPE) -- all the services policy control, administration, and management is done in the network, with individual applications, such as VOIP, ERP (enterprise resource planning), email, and videoconferencing, capable of being prioritized on an individual basis for each enterprise customer location.
The vendor isn't claiming that this solution will completely replace existing options. Lindsay Newell, head of marketing at AlcaLu's IP division, notes that large multinationals will have already deployed CPE at their many sites and want to manage their VPN traffic themselves.
Where AlcaLu believes there is an opportunity for carriers to capture new enterprise user business is in the medium-to-large corporate market, where companies use multiple applications and have multiple sites and are showing an increasing willingness to outsource. It's not applicable to small companies running their businesses with E1/T1 connections, though.
At present, some carriers are offering managed services that involve the deployment of new CPE at customer sites. For example, specialist WAN optimization technology vendor Ipanema Technologies has been particularly successful in the past 12 to 18 months in working with carriers to provide such services, while Riverbed Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: RVBD) is also active in this sector. (See Riverbed Sees Carrier Potential in Mazu, SingTel, Riverbed Team, Tata Deploys Ipanema, Belgacom Deploys Ipanema, C&W Uses Ipanema, and Swisscom Deploys Ipanema.)
Newell says AlcaLu's offering is complementary, but claims the new offering will enable quicker service provisioning and extends the application management capabilities to a far broader range of enterprise users. In addition, Newell notes that while the service provider can use the vendor's 7750 to offer the VPN service and the new managed service capabilities, deploying the new module in the 7450 aggregation platform means carriers can offer cloud-based application-specific management services even if the VPN is being enabled using IP routers from another vendor, such as Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) or Redback Networks Inc.
The AlcaLu man is also keen to give DPI some love following months of often negative coverage for the technology. (See Free Press Warns of DPI Abuse, Deep Packet Inspection: Coming Soon to a Network Near You, Don't Tap My Phone, Don't Tap My Internet, and All's 'Fair' in Love & Bandwidth Management.)
"This is an example of how DPI can be used in a positive way. It's not being used to restrict, block or limit. It's being used to benefit end users and provide new revenue streams for carriers," says Newell.
AlcaLu says its new product is in trials with carriers in Asia/Pacific currently and is about to go into trial with a European operator.
— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading