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Global X: Give Us More Standards

NEW YORK – What's changed in the service provider world in the last five years? Just about everything, according to Bud Basu, VP Product Management, Global Crossing (Nasdaq: GLBC)

A whirlwind of "convergence" -- on the LAN, WAN, and applications levels -- is forcing enterprises to rethink their business plans and how they can migrate to new all-IP networks without killing themselves, says Basu, speaking here at the GLOBALCOMM 2006 Master Class Series, presented by Light Reading and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) . That's produced a large integration role for the global service provider.

“Customers are saying: Mitigate risk, minimize capital investment, reduce complexity, and don’t tell me when to migrate to a converged environment,” said Basu.

To this end, Basu said, Global Crossing is focusing more on integration services these days. Service providers must now have more patience as they help enterprise customers build complex IP-based networks that might include IP VPNs, integrated applications, quality of service (QOS), and VOIP, he said.

"Things have changed over the last five years. We’re listening to our customers more attentively -- instead of telling, we are asking," said Basu, whose presentation was titled "Demystifying the Complexities Inherent in IP Convergence."

What are the sticking points for some customers? Lack of completed MPLS standards, compexity in managing VOIP networks, and disparate OSS systems and applications, according to Basu. Take for example, the lack of interoperability among service providers using MPLS to deliver QOS. Basu points out that this continues to be a problem when one service provider needs to work with another to build a global network.

"If your partner has Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) routers, and you have Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) routers, yes, there are problems. My suggestion would be that as an industry we’ve got to make this a standard so we’re not stuck with an RFC forever."

The Heavy Reader on hand concurred.

“Bud was forthright in talking about the limitations in current standards, such as inter-carrier QOS, an area requiring more initiative and cooperation among the industry players to harmonize the standards environment,” said John Longo, a Heavy Reading senior analyst who moderated the event.

One member of the audience said Basu touched on many of the real-world issues encountered by his clients, the large incumbent carriers.

"An MPLS network might be converged, but all of the OSS systems are not capable of integrating Layers 1, 2, and 3," said Madhu Singh, vice president with the Telecom Group, a consultancy. "These things have to merge together."

Singh said he's currently working with large incumbents to integrate FTTP, video, and wireless networks, but many of them aren't there yet -- largely because of the OSS systems.

In fact, if there was one conclusion to the evening, it's that OSS systems are by far the largest cause of indigestion.

"OSS integration is a massive amount of work. I’d argue that it’s the weakest link," said Basu.

And with that, the audience headed for the bar.

— R. Scott Raynovich, Editor in Chief, Light Reading

For registration information on the Master Class series, go here.

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