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October 04, 2012

Metaswitch Discusses Cloud, SDN, Advanced Technology Concepts

By Doug Mohney, Contributing Editor

Metaswitch Networks says all of its core network products are going to be cloud-capable in the future, but that’s only the start of the company’s vision for advancing communications.

Support for SILK and AMR-WB codecs in all of its products, software-only transcoding and encryption within its SBC, a look at software defined networking (SDN), and finding a practical real-world use for Near Field Communications (NFC) were all on the table during Metaswitch Forum 2012 opening sessions this week.

In his opening remarks at the multi-day conference, CEO John Lazar said the company was streamlining to focus on four areas. The company’s VoIP softswitch continues to anchor its lineup of products.

“We take switch migration very seriously,” Lazar stated.

A huge opportunity exists in hosted business services, but Lazar said some installs had been “grungy” with customers getting frustrated with the slow speed of deployment. “I’m sorry,” Lazar said,” We’re going to fix it.” 

Perimeta Session Border Control (SBC) – one of last year’s event stars – presents a “really really clear alternative” and a “unique opportunity” to the dominant offering from Acme Packet (News - Alert), with Metaswitch’s engineering approach “comfortably different” from any other SBC. All of the SBC functions run in software, including transcoding and encryption, in order to be able to take full advantage of the increased capabilities of Intel (News - Alert) Sandy Bridge and future generations of processors.

Cloud, the final priority, was a “work in progress” and “under construction” with no major product announcements planned in the short term. “We want to talk about [cloud] in a pragmatic, non-fluffy way,” Lazar said. “There’s a lot of vagueness…we need to be grounded, very down to earth.”

However, Lazar said all Metaswitch product would be able to run through the full spectrum of possibilities from dedicated hardware servers to hypervisor virtualized environments and public cloud environments such as Amazon EC2. Customers may not want to take everything to EC2, but Metaswitch wanted to provide customers with full options.

Software-defined networking is something the company will “take a good hard look” at with a small team investigating possibilities. “We’re not going to come in looking at it from a data centric view,” Lazar said, noting the concept’s origins from Google and Facebook. “We’re looking at it from a carrier WAN point of fiew. We think SDN will become more important for simplifying the network.”

All of the company’s products have beefed-up codec support for HD voice and video. Every product will now support a common core of codecs, including the addition of SILK and AMR-WB for voice and video.

An enhanced version of the Metaswitch Accession soft phone client for Android (News - Alert) incorporating SILK and FEC (Forward Error Correction) was showcased by Product Marketing VP Al Cook. The Accession client delivered the best POLQA voice quality scores in a variety of environments, including non-QoS Wi-Fi networks, when compared to Skype and another “leading competing” client.

Metaswitch may have actually also found a use for NFC technology currently being rolled into Android phones. By using an NFC “sticker” on a desktop phone, a user can simply “bump” a call on an NFC-enabled handset to a desktop phone – in the case of the demo video, a Polycom (News - Alert) conference phone -- and then “bump” it back to the handset to move to another location.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Austin 2012, happening now in Austin, TX. Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Braden Becker
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