Where would the comms networking industry be without the companies that develop the test and measurement systems needed by every player in the food chain? The answer -- in an expensive mess.
That's why it's important to recognise the innovations and developments ongoing in the test and measurement community. We received more entries than ever for this category, which recognizes the "communications networking test and measurement, monitoring or assurance systems vendor that stands out from its competitors, innovates constantly, helps set the industry trends, makes investors proud, and makes employees happy."
This year's shortlisted companies in this category are:
The winners of all 24 Leading Lights awards and the three Women in Comms awards, as well as the identities of this year's Light Reading Hall of Fame inductees, will be announced at the fantabulous Leading Lights dinner/party, which will be held during the evening of Monday, May 14, at the Brazos Hall in Austin, Texas, following a day of pre-BCE workshops. Then, the morning after the awards party, the doors open to this year's Big Communications Event (BCE) at the Austin Convention Center.
To find out which companies were shortlisted across all of this year's Leading Lights categories, please check out Leading Lights 2018: The Finalists and Congrats to 2018's WiC Leading Lights Finalists.
So, let's take a quick look at why these nine companies made the shortlist.
InfoVista has continued to meet the network testing needs of its mobile operator customers with advances to its TEMS portfolio. Examples include: Paragon, a streamlined network benchmarking solution requiring only one drive-tester; Voyager, an autonomous solution for large-scale deployment of fleet-based remote testing; Sense, an automated solution for monitoring and testing IMS services; and Director, an admin and analytics software platform for remotely configuring, managing, analyzing and monitoring network tests from any back-office location.
Such developments enable operators to improve efficiencies, improve the quality and speed of customer care, speed up incident resolution and boost revenues and ARPUs.
Kentik has developed a tool that enables network operators to determine how each customer's traffic impacts specific network resources and contributes to overall network load. The Ultimate Exit feature of Kentik's Detect platform enriches traffic volume data with tags, based on BGP routing data, to indicate where the traffic will exit the network at a site and device level, whether domestic or international. (See How Kentik Helps Operators Turn Network Data into Sales.)
This, ultimately, provides operators with invaluable insight into the relative cost of carrying its customers' data traffic, which can be used in contract negotiations. "Arming sales and finance teams with this insight provides a data-driven basis for service pricing and margin calculation," notes the company.
Such insight also enables operators to improve their network optimization and ensure that traffic is flowing across their networks in the most cost-optimized way.
T&M giant Keysight continued to innovate during the past year with the unveiling of PathWave, a software platform that comprises integrated design, test, measurement and analysis, and which is designed to enable its users to accelerate their own innovation and product development.
Notably, the interoperability of PathWave's design and test tools and advanced data management "significantly speeds the product development cycle, eliminating the need to re-create individual measurements and test plans at each discrete stage of the process." Among its advantages is that it enables users to allocate the correct resources to R&D tasks, evaluate data to optimize workflow, ensure hardware and software compatibility, identify and eliminate potential bottlenecks and review a project's status from anywhere.
5G won't be possible to implement without relevant test tools, which is why LitePoint developed IQgig-5G, a millimeter wave test solution that "enables 5G product developers to quickly validate their designs and accelerate getting their products to market."
All of the product's signal generation, analysis and RF front-end routing hardware are self-contained inside a single chassis, "unlike competing solutions that require two or more chassis in addition to complicated RF front end test heads and many cables to set up," states the test vendor.
The IQgig-5G system covers both the 28 GHz and 39 GHz mmWave bands and has multiple RF ports, making it easy to measure wave signals, and integrates both signal generation and analysis capability in a single 4U-sized chassis. "The IQgig-5G brings high-quality millimeter wave measurements out of the hard-core R&D lab to system-level characterization and software engineers," adds the LitePoint team.
One of the many challenges of the shift to a telco cloud is the need to develop and run relevant and focused test regimes across legacy and virtual domains: Operators must be able to test and validate new services across hybrid architectures.
So Polystar has developed Virtual Solver (vSolver), which can be deployed as a virtual network function (VNF) to carry out functional validation as well as performance and stability regression testing. vSolver includes support for a broad range of services, including VoLTE, VoWiFi and NB-IoT applications. It allows integration with the evolved packet core EPC and legacy networks (including SS7), enabling testing of services across an entire deployed infrastructure. By supporting voice, data and IoT service testing from a single platform, operators can analyse KPIs before new services are launched, network elements added, or software updates released to the live network. vSolver has already been selected by a major European operator to support advanced test programmes across six regional markets.
With the promise of 5G and IoT in mind, Sandvine and Procera completed a $562 million merger in September 2017 to form the 'new' Sandvine, which boasts 200 major service provider and more than 500 enterprise customers. (See The 'New' Sandvine Has Automation in Its Sights.)
At the heart of the new company are data visibility and information accuracy, leading it to claim that it can provide a "more granular and accurate view of network traffic than any other vendor." The company says it can offer four distinct advantages to its customers: Real-time insight with "full contextual awareness" from an in-line platform; a policy engine, optimized using machine learning tools, that enables users to "link any condition to any action": the ability to work in any physical and virtual network type; and optimum performance, enabling new business opportunities.
Spirent has a new mission -- to help network operators embrace automation. To do that it has developed what it says is a "new approach to testing and assurance" called Lifecycle Service Assurance (LSA).
This combines Spirent's lab heritage with service assurance capabilities that enable the automation of development and operational processes. The company's VisionWorks platform has already been selected by major operators as part of their automation strategies. (See Spirent VisionWorks Selected by Tier-1 Mobile Operator.)
The company has also embraced telco cloud developments with a major deployment of its cloud-native service assurance tools and engaged in multiple proofs of concept and industry event demonstrations in partnership with major network operators.
At the same time the company has managed to improve its profit margins and, in the 12 months to March 12 this year, recorded a 22% rise in its share price.
Identifying real-time client data analyses and diagnostics as key to providing video service providers with a clear view of how their services are performing, Verimatrix unveiled Verspective RT, an extension of its Operator Analytics platform that "emphasizes data security and integrity as a foundation for actionable intelligence."
Verspective RT provides video service providers with in-depth information about the subscriber experience and service perception, on both managed and unmanaged networks, and insights into quality of experience and content viewing habits, enabling the "optimization of video delivery, subscriber experience and overall service composition." The product also supports the integration of third party data tools to enhance service diagnostics capabilities and uses a common data model within a multi-platform and multi-network delivery system.
Importantly, the Verspective RT helps to "overcome data fragmentation and silos across video services organizations," and collates data in a resource that can be hosted in multiple different environments and analysed to provide insights that can help reduce churn and develop new revenue streams.
A market leader in multiple T&M markets and with more than 200 operator customers, Viavi developed its NITRO platform to collate real-time data from physical test instruments and software virtual agents into a single presentation layer. (See Viavi Takes Big Step on Automation Path .)
The development involved a complete integration of all the company's software, platforms and hardware across mobile, wireline, edge, core, physical, virtual, cloud and hybrid networks, and enables operators to introduce automated workflows and lifecycles.
The company has also been growing through M&A activity, having acquired Cobham's AvComm and Wireless Test and Measurement business, which enhances Viavi's potential in the 5G test market, and cable network leakage detection specialist Trilithic Inc. (See Viavi Splashes $455M on Cobham's T&M Unit and Viavi Adds Leak Detection to Cable Signal Meters.)
— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading