Optical/IP Testing

Leading Lights 2015 Finalists: Outstanding Test & Measurement Vendor

The test and measurement sector is alive and kicking if this year's entries to the Outstanding Test & Measurement Vendor category are anything to go by.

This is the second year we have included this category and the number and quality of entries was a step up from 2014.

In the end we had to pare the entries down to a shortlist, so here are the five that made the cut.

Accedian Networks Inc.
Accedian is on a hot streak, ramping sales of its performance assurance solutions and developing its portfolio to meet the needs of network operators that want best-of-breed network probes and virtualized instrumentation. The company boosted its revenues by 38% in 2014 and expects to grow again by about another 30% this year.

Accedian, which now claims more than 400 operator customers, has developed its platform to make best use of multi-layer analytics to "gain business insight, for policy enforcement, to dynamically optimize their networks and for correlation-based troubleshooting."

The company also decided to virtualize its network interface device (NID) product line by porting technology, rather than starting again from a blank piece of paper, so allowing it to "maintain full functionality while shifting performance assurance functions to the VCX Controller virtual appliance."

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Canadian vendor EXFO (Nasdaq: EXFO; Toronto: EXF) has been sailing a steady ship in the choppy waters of the optical test tool sector, where it has continued to evolve its portfolio with products such as its iOLM, an "OTDR-based application that delivers detailed information on every element on the link, in a single-button operation -- providing maximum intelligence and simplicity for expert-level link characterization."

Its solid core business means its revenues are expected to be about the same in 2015 as in 2014 (about $230 million), but its margins are set to improve due in part to tight cost controls. But that doesn't mean the company hasn't been investing in R&D. It has introduced new capabilities such as: EXFO TFv (Test Function Virtualization), which enables "seamless enablement of test functions on any EXFO test asset, at any time"; EXFO Xtract, an Open Analytics Platform that "empowers service providers with the ability to automate, accelerate, visualize and optimize their services and network lifecycle management"; and EXFO Mobile Agent, "a mobile application for 24/7 wireless service assurance monitoring, troubleshooting and quality-of-experience (QoE) analysis. It takes the functionalities of our Verifier probes to the next level with an Over-the-Top (OTT) application for smart devices."

The company has also been developing methodologies to enable test and assurance processes in hybrid legacy/virtualized networks.

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NetScout Systems Inc.
NetScout Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: NTCT) is one of the giants of performance management and service assurance, generating revenues of $454 million in its most recent fiscal year. Its nGeniusONE platform is applicable to "an array of service provider network architectures including mobile, wireline, cable/MSO and satellite, and addresses a wide range of services including 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE mobile networks, packet and circuit switched voice, video services, carrier Wi-Fi and fixed broadband services."

The company has a focus on enabling "proactive management… the platform automates the detection of emerging performance issues impacting service availability, quality and user experience, and enables rapid identification, triage and isolation of the root cause of performance problems."

But NetScout isn't resting on its laurels. It has made the bold move of bidding to acquire the Communications business of Danaher, comprising Tektronix Communications, Arbor Networks and certain parts of Fluke Networks in a deal valued at $2.6 billion. The deal recently received DoJ approval and should close in the coming months.

"With this acquisition, NetScout is staying the course and doubling down on being our customers’ strategic partner as they navigate major technology transformation in the 21st century from data center and network function virtualization to cloud, to mobility, to BYOD, to unprecedented cyber security threats," the company states.

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Spirent Communications
Spirent Communications plc is one the stalwarts of the telecom test sector and is evolving to meet the changing needs of the market. As part of its strategy to expand its addressable market the company has been positioning itself as a partner to mobile operators that need to test VoLTE, which is starting to be deployed in earnest.

"One of Spirent's most significant product ranges is its portfolio of solutions to address testing and validation of LTE and VoLTE, including service rollout, network performance, service experiences, device performance, device as well as infrastructure interoperability and carrier Wi-Fi handoffs. This includes Spirent Elevate, Spirent Quantum and Spirent Landslide," notes the company.

The company is managing to break into new markets through organic development and via acquisitions, including an acquisition in the VoLTE testing market, while keeping its finances under control: for the full year 2014 it reported a 11% increase in revenues to $457.2 million, although its operating profit dipped by about 40% to $23.7 million.

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VeEX Inc.
VeEX Inc. is hitting its stride with sales growth -- more than 20% per year on average -- and a growing presence in the telco and cable operator technology test sector.

The company regards VeSion, a tool that enables its products to communicate with each other via public or private cloud connections, so enabling the test tools to find faults and report them in a coordinated and simple way. "VeSion drastically reduces truck rolls, provides visibility to know where to dispatch repair crews when a failure occurs and is real-time. It is also an open platform that can work with other vendors to enrich data with mapping software, billing" and data from other systems.

It has also managed to land a significant deal with a Tier 1 service provider in Japan after miniaturizing its 100G field test equipment to create one of the most "portable, smallest, lightweight and cost-effective solutions in the market."

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The Leading Lights 2015 winners and newest class of Hall of Fame inductees will be unveiled at the Leading Lights awards dinner, which will be held the evening of Monday, June 8, at Chicago's Field Museum. The star-studded soirée will follow a day of special workshops covering topics such as SDN, 5G and Carrier Ethernet for the Cloud that take place ahead of Light Reading's Big Telecom Event (BTE), which this year is being held at the McCormick Place Convention Center on June 9 and 10. (Details and the agenda are on our show site, Big Telecom Event.)

— Ray Le Maistre, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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