Startup Pushes for IPDR Adoption
The Boulder, Colo., startup has just launched Pipeline, a "universal" IPDR software product that, the company says can help cable operators collect, process, and manage what could end up being billions of IPDR records from cable modems, embedded multimedia terminal adapters (E-MTAs), and set-top boxes. (See Applied Broadband Revs Up IPDR 'Engine' .)
Several MSOs are considering using IPDR as they seek standard ways to gather data tied to emerging metered Internet billing models, byte caps, and more measurable, advanced advertising applications. Some MSOs may also use IPDR to collect and analyze consumer usage, and use that data to help with broadband capacity planning for speedier cable modem service tiers. (See TWC Tees Up Metered Internet Trial , TWC Tees Up More Meters , Rogers Takes Internet Meter to the Masses, and Comcast Draws the Line at 250GB.)
Applied Broadband's Pipeline product acts as a middleware layer that collects IPDR data from millions of modems, E-MTAs, and set-tops, and then routes all that info to the MSO's multiple OSS/BSS applications, including billing and customer service and product management. Applied Broadband's software runs on commodity servers that are typically installed at regional data centers operated by MSOs.
IPDR "is the most efficient way to collect per-subscriber data in large volumes," says Jason Schnitzer, a cable tech vet who founded Applied Broadband in 2004. Schnitzer, who also founded Stargus Inc., a network management firm that's now part of Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS)), says MSOs "need to count bits, and IPDR does it in a highly effective and highly scalable way." (See C-COR Purchases Stargus.)
Because IPDR does not look at IP header info or peek at the application layer, it might have an easier time passing muster with network neutrality advocates, who are now starting to target "abuses" of deep packet inspection (DPI) technology. (See Free Press Warns of DPI Abuse.)
Docsis 3.0 is likely to be cable's first big "use case" for IPDR, Schnitzer says, but points out it will also be used as a data collection standard for tru2way and Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format (EBIF) applications.
In the Docsis scenario, the cable modem termination system is equipped with an IPDR agent that's capable of exporting high volumes of data to a "collector" like Applied Broadband's Pipeline.
So far, Applied Broadband claims two deals for the new product -- one with a vendor and another with a Tier 1 cable MSO.
Schnitzer says Pipeline has already been integrated with CMTSs from Arris, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), BigBand Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: BBND), and Casa Systems Inc. , as well as policy servers from Sandvine Inc. and Camiant Inc. .
Cable growing bullish on IPDR
MSOs "are all asking to retrofit… and take advantage of this protocol," Schnitzer claims.
Canoe Ventures LLC , the advertising consortium, may use the IPDR technology as well, he says. (See Canoe Rows Toward Enhanced TV and Canoe Ventures: What It Is, What It Ain't .)
Among other high-profile uses of the technology, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has already revealed that it uses IPDR servers in its new "protocol agnostic" network management system. CableLabs officially adopted IPDR in 2007. (See CableLabs Adopts IPDR and Comcast Goes 'Protocol Agnostic' Everywhere .)
Cox Communications Inc. hasn't identified itself as a Pipeline customer, but the MSO is excited about the benefits of IPDR.
"At this point, we're still in the process of rolling out the technology," Jeff Finkelstein, director of access engineering at Cox, tells Cable Digital News. "We know what we'd like to do with it."
That includes things like helping out with capacity planning. For starters, he's interested to see how well IPDR can query devices and supply granular levels of data without harming the experience of the customer due to the additional routing and network load requirements.
He says Cox is starting to test IPDR in a few markets, using the tech to collect piles of data and then trying to figure out the best ways to analyze it all. Finkelstein is also a fan of IPDR's uniform approach.
"It gives us that single architecture to actually manage the experience and to have one view into that data," Finkelstein says. "What we've seen is very promising."
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News