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Editors' Notebook
April 2001

Greg Galitzine Accordion: Enabling Intelligent Services At The Edge


It's all about the services! How many times have we heard that refrain in the past six months? In the past year? I think everyone can agree that with service provider revenues (from providing transport alone) flattening or declining, it's the enhanced services that must generate the growth in revenues. And on paper it makes sense. People will purchase more services if they feel they will realize benefits. Oh, and it has to be affordable. And customizable. But before we discuss the actual services, we need equipment manufacturers to come up with a platform that will allow their service provider customers to actually deploy those oft-referenced services. But, the market's crowded, and before service providers get the opportunity to differentiate themselves, it's these equipment vendors who have to sell themselves as offering the right tool for the challenges facing the carriers.

One such company throwing their hat into the ring is Accordion Networks. This privately funded, Fremont, CA-based equipment vendor feels they have what it takes to do the job. To hear them describe it, Accordion designs and supplies next-generation onsite broadband multiservice activation platforms that are designed to enable carriers to implement service intelligence at the edge of the network. And that's where most folks agree the revenues will come from -- the intelligent edge. According to Scott Heinlein of TeleChoice, Accordion's focus on "service intelligence at the network edge for rapid activation of advanced services and applications... is really what the service providers need."

So What Is It?
Accordion's platform is called the OnsitePOP Broadband Multiservices Activation Platform, and is made up of the following components:

Accordion Networks Onsite Service Gateway 6000 (OSG 6000)
The OSG 6000 is a service intelligent switch designed to reside in the business campus POP, building POP, or Metro POP. The gateway aggregates the functionality of a number of discrete devices, such as Layer 3+ switches, edge routers, Quality of Service (QoS) engines, and IP service switches.

Accordion Networks Onsite Service Gateway 100 (OSG 100)
The OSG 100 is a compact tenant access device (TAD) that resides in the business premise and combines high-speed data/IP and toll-quality voice services over a single broadband connection. The Accordion Networks OSG 100 gateway is designed to enable carriers to deliver affordable, integrated services optimally by utilizing intelligent QoS management of Layer 3+ user traffic.

Accordion Networks OnsiteEMS Element and Service Management System
Accordion's OnsiteEMS system enables remote activation, personalization, and management of services via the OSG 6000 gateway and the OSG 100 access device. It also enables service providers to extend service activation, personalization, and monitoring functionality to business end-users.

Pulling all of this together is Accordion's WarpRun technology. WarpRun provides the link between the OSG 6000 and the OSG 100, delivering up to 26 Mbps symmetrical bandwidth over existing copper. (Over fiber, the WarpRun technology can deliver 100 Mbps.)

The Proof Is In The Network
While Accordion tells me that they are in discussions with a number of service providers, one company that's taking advantage of the OnsitePOP platform is Advanced TelCom Group, Inc. (ATG), headquartered in Santa Rosa, CA. ATG  is a rapidly growing facilities-based Integrated Communications Provider (ICP) that focuses on the under-served, mid-sized markets across the United States. ATG offers an integrated set of telecommunications products and services including high-speed data and Internet services, local exchange, domestic and international long distance, and other enhanced voice services supported via digital networks including DSL technology. The result is one-stop shopping, which allows ATG to become "the local Internet and telephone company" of choice to its customers.

I had the opportunity to speak with ATG's co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Curt Wheeler, regarding ATG's relationship with Accordion Networks. "Many vendors in the market are providing technology, but it's what you do with the technology that really adds value. Accordion Networks is heading in the right direction by moving applications and services to the edge of the network where they can be easily activated, personalized, and managed. I especially like their concept of strong customer service and management. A focused customer approach and rapid provisioning of voice and broadband services will continue to be a strong differentiator for service providers like ATG as the technology playing field continues to converge and level-off."

I asked Mr. Wheeler how the Accordion solution was helping ATG meet its goals as a service provider, and what effect it will have on any future network expansion. He responded, "Accordion's integrated voice and broadband capabilities will allow us to quickly and cost-effectively respond to our customer's current and future telecommunications needs in the multi-tenant buildings that we serve."

Mr. Wheeler continued, "Based upon the outcome of our thorough and strenuous testing of their product in our Lab, Accordion's product family promises to give us an effective solution to meet the ever increasing voice and broadband data needs of our customers."

The Accordion Networks solution is set to ship right around the time this issue hits the street. Current pricing calls for the OSG 6000 to start at $29,995; the OSG 100 to start at $2,995; and the Onsite EMS software to start at $7,995 for base configurations.

Mike von Wahlde

Enterprise Services In The Ether


Convergence has found its way across the network. Not only are networks of VoIP coming together, interoperating, and allowing an unprecedented paradigm shift in telecommunications, but also our location-based services are converging with our wireless services. All this convergence...the word must be getting tired! How about this: Converged networks and unified communications. That's better. Let's take a look at what is going on in this newly unified space.

It seems like many ASPs and ISPs are trying to pack on the value-added services these days. Just one short year ago, getting broadband access was enough (for some of you, its still a long shot, though), yet in areas with provider saturation the addition of media is the message. Service providers are trying to offer it all, and they will be in for a race, since many companies are already zeroing in on a huge percentage of the market: enterprise communications.

This is especially the case with enterprise services. It seems that the main thrust in communications technologies is in the enterprise space. Ericsson, Sony, Microsoft, and many other big names, are offering new communications services to enable the new economy. The shift has occurred -- no longer are we interested only in the Web and the Internet, but also in how we can leverage the power of a global network to reach out not only to our branch offices, but also to worldwide customers and contacts.

Time and money...it always comes back to this. I recently attended Ericsson Enterprise's New York Media gathering and found that the spirit of unified communications is strong with this company that many still view only as a mobile phone manufacturer. Is anything they are planning on doing groundbreaking? Yes and no.

The fundamental ideas that underline unified communications were laid thousands of years ago when Grog first pointed to the pictures he drew of the Mastodon he killed, then described the hunt in both verbal and body language. Since that point, humans have tried to recreate the person-to-person experience in a format that allows mass transmission and distribution, and foreign location. What Ericsson, and many others alike, are doing is just this, only they are making several important steps towards realization of this: Mobile location; intelligent communications routing; effective, quality service; and an efficient communications infrastructure.

What is setting Ericsson ahead in this era is the company's ability to provide these services. Ericsson is guaranteeing QoS, high quality voice, and always-on services (the 3G panacea) all tailored to enterprise users within the first two quarters of this year. GSM, 3G, IP, etc... no matter, because Ericsson is dealing with an issue that many are skirting: There are many protocols and many platforms and even more devices, and to be truly scalable, an enterprise solution must deal with this issue.

With offerings in the Wireless LAN area, new PDA/Mobile Phone hardware, and several Bluetooth components, and a veritable cornucopia of 3G/ Enterprise developments to roll out in the next few months, Ericsson is setting precedents in the enterprise market. Keep an eye out for them, as well as competitors Microsoft, Worldcom, and others as we unify our home, premise, and mobile offices.

[ Return To The April 2001 Table Of Contents ]

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