Nortel Networks earlier today introduced technology designed to enable service providers to rapidly introduce next-generation applications and services.
The technology, which Nortel calls Preside, pushes a new model of services creation that breaks the proprietary bond that currently requires service providers to deploy applications that are compatible with the underlying network hardware.
Instead of limiting service providers to a small set of voice services, such as call forwarding, Nortel's new services creation environment is designed to make it easier for service providers to build and deploy applications by creating a software layer that is independent of the network infrastructure.
Performing a role similar to that of a personal computer's operating system, Nortel's services creation environment acts as a software-based go-between that enables applications to run on essentially any hardware.
"It is software that sits above the infrastructure and below the applications," said Ragui Kemel, vice president and general manager of networking and management at Nortel. "Its target is to reduce the cost of getting applications out quickly."
The ability to offer customers unique services faster than competitors is widely recognized as the key to success in the increasingly competitive service provider market. The major problem with the existing model that ties services creation to hardware systems is that the pace and variety of services are controlled by a few players - namely Lucent Technologies and Nortel, which make the majority of traditional telephone switching gear.
"Right now, if you ask for a new service from Lucent or Nortel, they'll bill you $3 million and get back to you in six months," said Joe Skorupa, an analyst at research firm Ryan Hankin Kent.
As the hardware and software layers continue to separate, a movement that is also driven by the convergence of voice and data traffic onto a single network, the proprietary hold of telephone switch makers will give way to a services creation model that resembles the personal computer industry, Skorupa said.
Hoping to capitalize on the competitive forces demanding a new application-creation model instead of resisting them, Nortel - along with Lucent, through separate initiatives - is leading the charge to deliver the tools that will enable providers to rapidly provision new services and Internet Protocol-based applications.
The technology leverages Nortel's management and policy-based network technology. In addition to a services creation environment, Preside serves as a central repository for customer care and billing services, service activation, policy-based services and service assurances, such as a service-level agreement monitor.
In addition to assisting service providers in deploying unique applications that can be tailored to specific industries, Preside also provides carriers with a mechanism for quickly provisioning a network infrastructure. The technology, Kemel said, enables service providers to automatically deploy services based on Synchronous Optical Network technology, for example.
The Preside services portfolio is available immediately, Nortel officials said.