Session Controller Startups Squabble
Kagoor points to a recent press release in which Netrake claims to be "the only company offering a single-box solution to secure carrier VOIP networks – whether they offer carrier-to-carrier VOIP, carrier-to-enterprise VOIP and/or residential VOIP." (See Netrake Upgrades for Residential VOIP.)
Being first to the market with such a product could potentially give Netrake an advantage in what is a growing market. Carrier outlay on session controllers, which play a pivotal role in enabling end-to-end IP sessions across multiple IP networks and across firewalls, may be relatively small at present -- $29 million in 2003 -- but it's growing like wildfire, according to Infonetics Research Inc., and the opportunity to cash in on carrier capex may be limited (see Session Controllers Kick Off and Session Controllers: Limited Lifespan?).
And that's why Kagoor is crying foul. Its VP of marketing, Jim Greenway, says his company has been offering a single-box solution that performs the same functions as the Netrake product since September 2003. He writes in an email that his company's product "is a carrier class session border controller that is being used as a single box solution by carriers in carrier-to-carrier, carrier-to-residential and carrier-to-enterprise applications."
Kagoor's latest customer is a small, alternative provider based in London called DRD Communications plc (see Hosted VOIP Firm Uses Kagoor). Kagoor says it has larger carrier customers, but cannot name them.
So does Netrake stand by its claim? Well, it says it has "the only single-box solution that can scale to 42,000 simultaneous calls at call processing rates of up to 300 calls per second" -- isn't quite the same as being the "only company offering a single-box solution to secure carrier VOIP networks."
A spokeswoman says Netrake's product is in "a different class from Kagoor. Kagoor is known for going for the small to mid-tier carriers, while Netrake built its products specifically for Tier 1 carriers. Kagoor's boxes can not scale up to the same level as Netrake's in a single-box."
Netrake cites Level 3 Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: LVLT), which is currently ramping up its VOIP services, as a major customer (see Level 3 Announces Residential VOIP).
Kagoor counters that its boxes are "completely carrier class, with all of the carrier class features such dual power supply, dual fans, AC/DC power, blades, copper/fiber/GigE interfaces, full redundancy," etc. etc.
As with any fight (though this is more handbags at ten paces), a referee is required, so what does Graham Beniston, analyst at large for Heavy Reading, who has put these session controller firms under his microscope recently, make of these two rivals? He says that both firms "without a doubt" have product that would be used by large carriers, and went on to stress the important role these products play as a "glue" in next-generation networks.
The battle for carrier cash is not just between these two startups. Beniston says the companies he sees most often in RFP shortlists are Netrake and Acme Packet, but there are others that have operator accounts, such as NexTone Communications Inc. and MediaRing Ltd., and at least one other with its eyes firmly on the Tier 1 market (see Session Controller Startup Plans IPO).
The role these products play in telecom networks is the topic of the latest Boardwatch poll, "Session Controllers: Invaluable or Unnecessary?" Click on this link to cast your vote.
And session controllers are coming under the spotlight on Tuesday, April 20, in a Light Reading Webinar: Click on this link for further details.
— Ray Le Maistre, International Editor, Boardwatch
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