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January 2002


No Longer A Mystery Machine�The Softswitch And The Next-Generation


[ Go Right To Five Questions ]

As a child I was a huge Scooby Doo fan. To this day, I sometimes find myself unable to sleep early in the morning, watching Scoob and the gang chasing villians around on the Cartoon Network. Everytime I watch that show I am left thinking two things: When am I getting a Great Dane, and what exactly goes on inside that Mystery Machine that makes this misfit group of friends such a ghostbusting powerhouse?

To many, the softswitch has a similar amount of masking. When I sat down to put this Technology Selection Guide together, the first thing I had to do was admit that if there was little chance that I would be able to tackle the softswitch market in less than 100 pages, there was no way that I could tackle it in less than 10. The space is too wide, the applications too broad, and there are many, many fine companies with strong products. To best serve you, the reader, I figured that a smattering of solutions, bound by one common thread that makes a softswitch a softswitch � the separation of call control from the transport layer, would provide a fish-eye view of these arch-nemeses of the legacy switched network way of thinking.

Flexibility and open protocols are the hallmarks of the softswitch. With open APIs, the ability to handle MGCP, H.323, SS7, IPDC, SIP, and others is a huge benefit to the service provider wanting to utilize the bandwidth in an existing IP network to leverage Class 4 and 5 functionality. �So softswitches do stuff that our existing legacy equipment already does, big deal,� you may think. When you look beyond the surface, though, the true face of softswitch technology comes out.

Not only do softswitches perform Class 4/5 switching functions, but they do it on a server, which is far smaller and easier to deploy throughout a network � chalk one up for flexibility, once again. But wait, it gets better. Value-add applications are the birthmarks of the next-gen. Softswitches allow IP-based functionality labeled with all the ABC/XYZ protocol-enabled features you can shake a ScoobySnack at; all provided in house or through a third-party, and all enabled by a softswitch.

The migration to the softswitch is no secret journey. Use this Selection Guide as a torch to guide you from the darkness of legacy equipment to the light of the next-gen network. Also, make sure to read the sidebars to get a better handle on the specifics of the softswitch, as well as a real-life integration story. It kinda makes you just want to say �Zoinks!� doesn�t it?

Server 2000 � Compact
Nortel Networks
8200 Dixie Rd., Ste. 100
Brampton, Ontario L6T 5P6, Canada
The Succession Communication Server 2000 � Compact softswitch is based on open standards and employs off-the-shelf compact PCI hardware and Linux operating systems in a small footprint to deliver carrier-grade reliability, scalability, and manageability. Well suited for building new networks, this softswitch provides feature transparency to existing telephony subscribers by offering the most complete set of class 4 and 5 trunking and access solutions that enable easy geographic expansion and wide global reach.

Oresis Communications 
14670 NW Greenbrier Pkwy. 
Beaverton, OR 97006 
The ISIS-700 Softswitch supports the migration from circuit-switched to packet voice networks (VoATM and VoIP). The ISIS-700 Softswitch operates on the Hewlett-Packard (HP) line of NEBS-compliant and fault-tolerant servers with the HP-UX operating system, utilizing a distributed call processing architecture. The ISIS-700 Softswitch provides a full range of CLASS 3/4/5 voice features, and interworks among media gateways, feature servers, and signaling systems with the following standards: MGCP, MEGACO/H.248, H.323, SIP, and SS7 (ITU and ANSI). 

Telcordia Call Agent
Telcordia Technologies, Inc.
4B Inverness Court East, Suite 210
Englewood, CO 80112
The Telcordia Call Agent provides primary line VoIP and VoATM without the need for a Class 5 circuit switch. It works with the Telcordia associate-provided IP or ATM gateway to perform call control functions and deliver revenue-generating services running over IP and ATM networks. In addition, the Call Agent is based on an open architecture that eliminates dependence on switch suppliers for new products, services, and proprietary software upgrades.

Plexus 9000
734 Forest St.; Bld. G
Marlboro, MA 01752
Telica�s Plexus 9000, a softswitch-based switching platform, supports 80,640 protected TDM ports or 21,500 protected VoP calls per shelf. The Plexus 9000 can be deployed as a Class 4/5 switch and seamlessly interconnect to TDM-based switches in the PSTN for voice and data services. The Plexus 9000 provides an industry-leading high capacity, fault-tolerant, two-way switching system for TDM and VoP; the only one to include both VoIP and VoATM solutions, which can be deployed in an integrated or distributed softswitch architecture. The Plexus 9000 offers 128ms of echo cancellation, G.711, G.726, and G.729A/B encoding and support for ISUP, TCAP, AIN 0.x, Q.931, BICC, SIP, MEGACO, and SCTP.

Sonata SE Wireles Softswitch
TELOS Technology
4600 Jacombs Rd.
Richmond, B.C. V6V 3B1, Canada
The Sonata SE is a wireless softswitch that provides the mobility and media control traditionally associated with a circuit switched mobile switching center, in a packet-based environment. The Sonata SE is 2G, 2.5G, and 3G capable, supporting GSM, GPRS, UMTS, CDMA, CDMA-1X. By deploying the Sonata SE in 2G and 2.5G environments, operators gain the efficiencies inherent in packet-based networks, while building a network core capable of supporting 3G standards.

Sylantro Applications Switch
Sylantro Systems
910 East Hamilton Ave.
Campbell, CA 95008
Sylantro�s Applications Switch was designed, from the beginning, to support the redundant and scalable infrastructure requirements of service providers. The software architecture incorporates data structures that support massive, multi-tenant deployments. This platform acts as both the delivery mechanism and the development engine for a wide range of existing and new applications. The combination of the applications-enabled architecture and the complete suite of application modules lets service providers deliver reliable managed telephony services over broadband networks.

CommWorks Softswitch
CommWorks Corporation
3800 Golf Rd.
Rolling Meadows, IL 60008 USA
The CommWorks Softswitch provides intelligent call handling between media gateways, access media, and fixed and mobile end points. The softswitch handles call processing; integrates signaling with the existing SS7 infrastructure; and coordinates with databases and back-end servers to properly route calls and distribute functions to other network elements. Also, the softswitch supports critical network functions like provisioning, fault tolerance, and billing; and interfaces with application servers, feature servers, and media servers to enable a wide array of new revenue generating services.

VocalTec Softswitch 
Architecture Series 3000
VocalTec Communications
1 Executive Dr, Ste. 320
Fort Lee, NJ 07601
The VocalTec Softswitch Architecture Series 3000 is a modular, open, standards-based platform that unifies and harnesses the power of proven and emerging VoIP technologies, including SIP, MGCP, and H.323. Consisting of a set of distributed modules, the VocalTec Softswitch Architecture Series 3000 enables service providers to build robust, reliable and highly scalable VoIP networks. The solution extends and enhances the capabilities of today�s revenue-generating H.323 networks with infrastructure and services based on SIP and MGCP.

Clarent NGN Softswitch
Clarent Corporation
700 Chesapeake Dr.
Redwood City, CA 94063
Clarent�s softswitch is the software-based centerpiece of Clarent�s NGN solution, designed to deliver essential tandem (Class 4) and Class 5 Internet offload functionality. This is accomplished via a combination of the Clarent Command Center, Clarent Backbone High-Density Call Manager (BHCM), and the SS7/C7 Clarent Multi-Point Signaling Server (MPSS). Clarent�s NGN softswitch is a scalable, standards-based service and application platform that enables subscriber authentication, network management of user accounts, dynamic call routing, flexible call rating, centralized billing, high-density call control, and SS7/C7 signaling.

VocalData, Inc.
3001 President George Bush Hwy., Ste. 150
Richardson, TX 75082 
VocalData�s Voice over IP Softswitch Solution (VOISS) is a proven service delivery solution that allows service providers to offer voice services and value-added applications over an IP network to business customers. The VOISS Solution includes: VOISS Service Delivery Softswitch, VOISS Applications (Voice mail, unified messaging, conferencing, call center, etc.) and specialty hardware (VOISS ISDN Gateway, VOISS Conference Bridge, and VOISS Proxy Firewall).

220 Perry Pkwy.
Gaithersburg, MD 20877 
BroadSoft�s BroadWorks is the industry�s first complete service delivery system that enables service providers to offer a rich set of Web-enabled user-friendly enhanced telephony services. BroadWorks� highly scalable, flexible architecture and capabilities provide comprehensive packet-based telephony applications including small-medium sized enterprise (SME) Centrex services, enterprise networking, and private branch exchange (PBX) replacement. It cuts across circuit and packet technologies, allowing service providers to roll out packet-based telephony services with incremental investment to their network infrastructure. 

Santera Systems, Inc.
3605 East Plano Pkwy.
Plano, TX 75074
SanteraOne is a carrier-grade integrated voice and data switching solution delivering applications such as Class 4/5, PRI Offload, packet/cell switching and Voice over Broadband (VoB) services all on a single platform. SanteraOne has both circuit (TDM) and packet fabrics and supports all of the regulatory requirements of a legacy system (including LNP, CALEA and E911) enabling a graceful migration from traditional circuit-based networks to next generation packet-based technology such as ATM, Frame Relay & IP. SanteraOne is comprised of the Open Feature Exchange (OFX), which includes a media gateway controller, signaling gateway and an applications server; the SanteraOne Broadband Office Exchange (BoX), which is a high-density media gateway; and the SanteraOne element management system (NetScan).

Cisco Systems, Inc.
170 West Tasman Dr.
San Jose, CA 95134
The Cisco BTS 10200 softswitch  is a standards-based solution that provides advanced call control and service intelligence to both telephony and packet  networks, allowing carriers and service providers to efficiently deliver rich voice and application services. Implementing the Cisco BTS 10200 Softswitch ensures rapid service deployment, carrier-grade reliability, service flexibility, scalability to millions of subscribers and cost savings through investment optimization and operational efficiencies.

SRX-3000 Softswitch
Unisphere Networks
10 Technology Park Dr.
Westford, MA 01886-3146
The Unisphere Networks SRX-3000 Softswitch Services platform supports legacy and next-generation interfaces using standard protocols to provide a smooth integration of legacy and emerging technologies. The SRX-3000 Softswitch offers a choice of turnkey and mix and match solutions, offering service providers control over their service creation environments. It also provides control over IP, ATM, and legacy TDM connections allowing any to any mediation. Unisphere Networks offers service providers and end users a cost-effective alternative to traditional phone systems while offering new value-added services..

ICSX Softswitch
Convergent Networks
900 Chelmsford St., Tower 3
Lowell, MA 01851
Convergent Networks� ICSX Softswitch combines service intelligence and call control in a robust platform for carrier-grade service creation and delivery. With the ability to interoperate seamlessly with existing legacy infrastructures, the ICSX Softswitch is capable of delivering primary line and trunk side features of the PSTN to drive carrier revenues, while harnessing the same open and distributed platform to engineer the services of the future. The ICSX Softswitch uses standards-based protocols, working in conjunction with Convergent Networks� ISCG signaling gateway; the ICS2000 broadband switch, and the ICView management system

ASD Softswitch 
2358 Hassell Rd.
Hoffman Estates, IL 60195 
ASD softswitch multimedia contact center software that uses artificial intelligence (AI) technology to raise the productivity and effectiveness of inbound, outbound and blended contact center environments. The product analyzes and learns from actual contact volume and flow as it occurs, coordinating all of its resources, then adjusts the communications system for optimal performance. ASD softswitch provides an unlimited number of parameters for managing inbound, outbound, or blended contact environments. And unlike other systems, the product allows contact center managers and systems programmers to quickly and easily model as many �What if?� scenarios as desired without a separate testing environment that requires IT expertise.

Local Exchange Softswitch System (LeXSS) 
3600 FAU Blvd.
Boca Raton, FL, 33431
Consisting of the CSX 2100 Media Gateway and the CopperController softswitch, the LeXSS delivers local telephony services and revolutionary new services to subscribers over circuit and packet networks on a highly cost effective platform. In addition to fundamentally changing the price points for local telephony switches, the LeXSS enables carriers to differentiate their services using a unique, software based feature creation environment. And all of these benefits accrue while supporting the circuit switched infrastructure of today�s PSTN and leveraging the economic benefits of packet-based networks. 

Sonus Networks
5 Carlisle Rd.
Westford, MA 01886
Sonus� Insignus platform separates softswitch functionality into a set of modular software elements, which can be deployed in a variety of configurations to address carriers� individual requirements. The ASX Access Server is a module that supports a variety of access gateways to provide line-side endpoint control, a rich set of Class 5 features for residential and Centrex applications, as well as regulatory features such as emergency services and CALEA; the PSX Policy Server provides the service selection, routing, and call handling instructions for other softswitch elements; the GSX-GC Gateway Controller provides call control and signaling for Sonus� GSX9000 Open Services Switch; The new TSX Gateway Controller controls third-party trunking gateways using industry-standard protocols such as MGCP; and the SGX SS7 Gateway provides integrated SS7/C7 signaling support for connectivity to existing circuit-switched networks.

VXi MGC Media Gateway 
Controller (MGC)
5200 Paramount Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC 27560
The Tekelec VXi Media Gateway Controller is a standards-based, scalable, carrier-grade softswitch that enables service providers to employ traditional and advanced voice services over ATM and IP networks. The product family supports a wide variety of revenue-enhancing applications including packet tandem, Internet offload, local calling  service, IP Centrex, global bridge, wireless  tandem, and MSC gateway.

Open Telecommunications
Highlands Campus Tech Centre
Building B, Suite 202
21312 30th Ave. SE
Bothell, WA 98021

Open Telecommunication�s openCallAgent is a carrier-grade software product that runs on standard Sun platforms. Currently, the openCallAgent enables wireline/wireless tandem/Class 4 and dial termination applications for the Asia-Pacific and ITU-standard markets. Class 5 functionality for wireless and broadband will be introduced in 2002. openCallAgent supports MGCP, H.323, ISDN and SS7 signaling protocols and provides access to intelligent network services (e.g., freephone, number portability, interconnection requirements) using ETSI CS-1/CS-2 INAP. SIP and MEGACO will be available in 2002.

[ Return To The January 2002 Table Of Contents ]

Five Questions

Q: Do I need an integrated media gateway/ softswitch solution?

Q: Do I need to tack on value added applications to my existing legacy switched network?

Q: What protocols am I currently supporting at the layers at which I might want to implement a softswitch? Will the softswitch I wish to implement not only support these protocols, but interoperate with my current solutions?

Q: Do I have business support systems, such as billing and mediation, that I need to consider when implementing a softswitch?

Q: Do I want the applications I add to my network to be imbedded in the softswitch itself, or do I want them to reside on separate platforms?

[ Return To The January 2002 Table Of Contents ]

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