The telecom vendor community is very much alive and well -- and innovating. That's the main conclusion to draw from this year's entries in the Leading Lights Best New Product (Telecom) category, which attracted more than 80 submissions.
Not only was the standard incredibly high, but the range was fantastically diverse, from core transport and routing platforms to customer premises equipment (CPE) and from hulking great boxes to software applications.
We previously announced which companies and products had made this year's Best New Product (Telecom) shortlist when we announced the finalists in all 12 Leading Lights categories. (See Light Reading's 2013 Leading Lights Finalists.)
So, let's take a closer look at the shortlisted products, in alphabetical order (by company name).
Alcatel-Lucent - Zero-touch vectoring
Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) has been developing vectoring capabilities for years but has seen real demand in the past year or so from operators wanting to sweat their copper tails for longer before migrating to mass market fiber connections all the way to the home. To meet those demands and make vectoring deployments and broadband service upgrades easier and more efficient to implement, AlcaLu developed and launched its Zero Touch Vectoring technology, which enables broadband service providers to implement vectoring capabilities without needing to upgrade existing CPE. (See Alcatel-Lucent Enhances VDSL2 Vectoring.)
Amdocs Inc. - CES 9
On the face of it, this sounds like a product upgrade to version nine. But it's so much more than that. CES 9 saw Amdocs Inc.: integrate multiple functions (including policy management) with ready-made connections; launch a new customer care module powered by real-time analytics; and offer a business building blocks element that enables customers to develop new capabilities themselves. This product is proof that Amdocs has a much more product-oriented strategy these days and is harnessing the different strengths of its broadening portfolio with customer needs in mind. (See Amdocs Ain't What It Used to Be.)
Compass-EOS - r10004 Router
There has been no shortage over the years of new entrants that have tried, but failed, to take on the major network equipment firms in the carrier router market. That hasn't deterred Compass-EOS, which this year unveiled its r10004 router that is built around on-chip photonics, a move that results in a much more compact system in comparison with existing platforms. The strategy is showing signs of paying off, as the r10004 is already making its way into networks. (See Photonics Fire Up Radical Core Router Startup, NTT Picks Compass-EOS Routers and China's Cernet Picks Compass-EOS.)
Cyan Inc. - Blue Planet SDN Platform
Software-defined networking (SDN) is being touted as a potential game-changer in the enterprise and carrier worlds but the programmable networking market is still in its infancy and, certainly in the wide area network (WAN) world, faces multiple barriers to deployment. Cyan Inc. , though, is one of the pioneers, as its Blue Planet platform is already at work in multi-vendor environments, enabling applications to issue commands to network elements such as Ethernet switches. Less than a year after launch, Cyan was telling investors it had 85 Blue Planet customers. (See Cyan Spins 'Blue Planet' for SDN and Cyan's SDN Customer Wins Soar to 85.)
Juniper Networks Inc. - PTX3000 Packet Transport Router
Playing into a market that's been dubbed Packet-Optical Transport 2.0, Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) shrank its PTX packet transport routing platform for the metro market, where size, space and power consumption considerations are key, but still managed to deliver 1.92 Tbit/s of capacity. The new product received positive feedback from the analyst community, with various comments suggesting it was meeting the latest carrier demands for efficient but high-capacity metro packet-optical products. (See Juniper Aims Big With 100G Optical.)
Metaswitch Networks - Project Clearwater
The inclusion of this submission in the shortlist marks new territory for the Leading Lights, yet that only reflects the changing nature of the communications technology sector. Project Clearwater is not a finished product but a SIP communications engine with WebRTC support and Internet Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) core interfaces that is openly available for a multi-participant development process. The aim is to create software that is available to all under open-source licensing. Metaswitch Networks provided the initial source code that has been worked with since May. Project Clearwater makes this year's shortlist for breaking new ground in telecom sector product development with aspirations that fit neatly with the increasing carrier demands for network functions virtualization (NFV) and cloud-enabled communications applications. (See What's So Great About Open-Source IMS?.)
Netsocket Inc. - Netsocket Virtual Network
NetSocket arrived on the SDN scene with a bang in July with what it describes as a "completely virtualized SDN solution." A proposition that might, for some, seem like an empty marketing pitch but Netsocket's package has substance in the form of virtualized core routing code that could deliver the promise of data networks can be built and extended using standard servers, commodity Layer 2 switches and free software without the need for proprietary routing platforms. With its fully integrated "virtual network" proposition, Netsocket is taking on some of the mightiest names in the IP and virtualization worlds, and its proposition is not without its challenges (most notably legacy network integration), but its product stands out as a well-constructed proposition that plays to the efficiency requirements of today's network operators. (See Netsocket Targets Cisco With SDN Pitch.)
Nokia Solutions and Networks - Liquid Applications
When this Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) product was unveiled at Mobile World Congress, Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN) was Nokia Siemens Networks. The change of company name makes no difference, though, to what is a smart approach to one of the major challenges facing service providers today -- the efficient delivery of content to end users. Working with IBM, NSN developed the Radio Applications Cloud Server (RACS), which, in a nutshell, sits at the edge of a mobile network, caches content, and uses real-time information from the network to determine how best to deliver data to end users. Or, as NSN puts it, it turns the basestation "into a local hub for service creation and delivery, in close proximity to where people connect." It's a neat combination of storage and analytics that has attracted the attention of Korean 4G services pioneer SK Telecom (Nasdaq: SKM). (See NSN: Understanding Liquid Applications and SK Telecom Completes Liquid Applications Proof-of-Concept .)
Nuage Networks - Virtualized Services Platform
More SDN, this time from the Alcatel-Lucent venture Nuage Networks , which launched its software-only Virtualized Services Platform in April. Nuage, which has its heritage in AlcaLu's IP networking division, is targeting the virtual networking needs of datacenter operators, aiming to automate the underlying networking required to connect virtual machines. By tackling this problem, Nuage is aiming to help its customers develop a more efficient cloud environment and ultimately extend the benefits of data center network virtualization into the wide area network. (See Alcatel-Lucent Spins Up Its SDN.)
Wind River - Open Virtualization Profile
Wind River Systems Inc. 's Open Virtualization Profile, a virtualization add-on to its embedded Linux software that provisions and migrates virtual machines, is part of parent company Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC)'s strong push into NFV and SDN and was developed with the telco market in mind. That focus comes in the form of low latency that rivals physical devices, a strength that will help network operators transition towards NFV and cloud services, which is something they appear increasingly willing to do. (See Intel Aims to Cut NFV Latency.)
What do you think of this shortlist? Feel free to weigh in on the message boards below.
The Leading Lights winners and latest Hall of Fame inductees will be revealed at the Leading Lights awards dinner, which will be held during the evening of Tuesday, October 1 at the super-cool The Out hotel in New York City. (For more details, see Leading Lights 2013.)
That all-night party will be followed by the Ethernet & SDN Expo, which takes place at the Javits Center, NYC, on October 2–3.
— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading
Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to Ethernet & SDN Expo, a Light Reading Live event that takes place Oct. 2-3, 2013 at the Javits Center in New York City. Co-located with Interop, Light Reading's Ethernet & SDN Expo will focus on how the convergence of Carrier Ethernet 2.0 with emerging carrier software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization technologies could change the whole telecom landscape for service providers. For more information, or to register, click here.