IMS Prevails at VON

As the VON show winds down in San Jose this week, it's worth noting that net neutrality fights weren't the only thing happening, though there were quite a lot of them. (See Qwest CEO: SLAs Are A-OK and Google Grouses on Net Neutrality.) There were some interesting VOIP- and IMS-related announcements in the testing and session border controller space, and we're obliged to offer our pick of some of the muddle:

Test fest
Interoperability and standards conformance are still major issues in the VOIP world, and will be for some time to come. And in the SIP world of IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystems), everyone's largely in the dark about how network elements, such as applications servers, subscriber databases, media gateways, and softswitches, will interwork and react in a production network.

That creates opportunities for test-and-measurement firms such as Empirix Inc. , which has been banging the IMS drum for a while, and this week added IMS element test modules to its Hammer products. (See Empirix Hammers IMS and Empirix Tackles IMS .)

It has added a new set of test capabilities that provide vendors and service providers with the ability to test IMS network elements individually as if they were in a network environment, receiving requests and setting up sessions. The Hammer platform does this by emulating various other elements and can be used to check that systems can perform the tasks they're meant to, and also stress test them to breaking point by flooding them with corrupted requests.

Empirix's VP of product development, Duane Sword, says the major attraction for his customers, such as Sonus Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SONS), is that they don't have to set up complex lab scenarios to test different elements. "The big focus is on the cost of setting up a test lab for an IMS core architecture. There are a lot of devices involved, and trying to stress all the different elements in a lab environment can be a costly and unwieldy affair, especially if you're generating traffic from end points," says Sword.

Empirix, which also announced a new customer and a general product upgrade this week, hasn't been the only test firm on the prowl at VON. (See Empirix Updates Hammer and NuVox Uses Empirix OSS.)

TekVizion PVS Inc. was also pushing its IMS capabilities; Anritsu Corp. pushed its VOIP monitoring capabilities; and Brix Networks Inc. introduced us to TWAMP (Two-way Active Measurement Protocol), surely the acronym of the show. (See Tekvizion Offers IMS Test Lab, Brix, Allied Telesyn Offer QOS, and Anritsu Extends VOIP Testing.)

Session controllers spew news
It wouldn't be a VOIP event without the session border controller (SBC) vendors piping up. As usual, Acme Packet Inc. (Nasdaq: APKT) had plenty to say for itself, including a new customer and the claim that it has pre-standards capabilities that can help enterprises take advantage of fixed-line IMS services, though some might ask just when such services will exist. (See Acme Has IMS Package and Paetec Uses Acme Packet.)

Netrake Corp. was also in evidence, thrusting its chest with some milestone claims and announcing a new customer in the form of Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF), which is quite a coup, as the Spanish firm is a long-time Acme customer. The deployment is in Brazil, rather than Spain, but it's still a foot in the door. (See Netrake Lands Telefonica and Netrake Claims Milestones.)

NexTone Communications Inc. announced some new customers, and, quite quietly, Newport Networks plc (London: NNG) announced it has forged a five-year distribution with a major, unidentified equipment vendor. Newport's saying nothing, but word on the street is that it's Nortel Networks Ltd. . (See Rapid Link Deploys NexTone, Hipcom Uses NexTone Gear, and Newport Touts Channel Deal.)

Music to our ears
Here's a news release that speaks for itself, following an acquisition last year. (See Excel/Brooktrout Changes Name and Excel Catches $173M Brooktrout.)

So what's the new name? Cantata Technology. And, er, why? "Our new name, Cantata, is a word derived from a rich musical composition in which talents converge to create something truly unique. A cantata is a work far more innovative, integrated and engaging than the sum of its parts. This same synergy is embodied in Cantata Technology," said Marc Zionts, Cantata's CEO, in the company's release.

Say no more…except the newly named company has a new deal and has launched a partnership program. (See Cantata Wins Deal, Partners.)

And there's so much more, starting with the reports from our man on the show floor.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

digits 12/5/2012 | 4:01:24 AM
re: IMS Prevails at VON ALso at this week's VON - why a P2P future will make IMS and telco vendors redundant, as P2P communication doesn't need the myriad elements that comprise an IMS architecture, such as policy servers, session controllers and so on - apparently.

Any thoughts? Anyone at VON attend the session(s) in question?

Is IMS just a waste of time and money? Or is the P2P case being overstated?
paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:01:22 AM
re: IMS Prevails at VON

There is truth and falicy in both camps.

The Internet crowd (P2P as an example techonology involved) is very good at reacting in multitudes. There are lots of sites and services many of which go nowhere fast. One thing I think LR (or maybe HR) could do is try to quantify this. Is it on the order of the 90% failure rate of other startups? There are simply so many of them and they are focussed on specialization. Lots of small audiences. These folks often start with free services started in their spare time. When a site or a service becomes popular you start to see advertising and eventually premium services. This can take 6 months, a year, sometimes 2 years. Many times these services and sites are one hit wonders and live and die with the movement of the community that they support.

The large companies will want to offer broad based services that move slowly. IMS is complex to make the service offerings much longer to be in place. But there is potentially more depth and capability to these services. Unfortunately, the development time means that these will not be at the cutting edge. The use of open source tools means that services and sites are available in days, not even weeks or months.

So, I think you will see two different models and two different industries. Both will probably claim victory, but neither will go away. They will have different audiences, or more correctly audiences trying to accomplish different things (users will probably have some services from both types of technologies). One should not assume that IMS or P2P is the end all or be all of things. There will be other technologies to follow.

alchemy 12/5/2012 | 4:01:01 AM
re: IMS Prevails at VON The cellular operators have designed a network where they can account for and charge for every bit transmitted across their network. Given the cost of spectrum, something like IMS was inevitable.

IETF people think the internet should be free and anybody can provide services on it. You end up with peer to peer architectures and architectures like BitTorrent that distribute databases among a huge number of parasitic hosts.

The cellular operators aren't going to let much peer to peer traffic operate for free on their expensive spectrum. The telcos and cable operators will be using QoS and congestion of best-effort traffic to make peer to peer parasitic applications work worse than their applications. If you use freeware peer to peer solutions, you'll have to live with degraded service at peak times.
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