Network Infrastructure

JDSU Introduces PacketPortal, 'iTunes for the Network'

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  April 25, 2012

This article originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine.

JDSU (News - Alert) has unveiled PacketPortal, which the company says is like iTunes for the network.

David Heard, president of JDSU’s communications test and measurement division, tells TMCnet that he makes the iTunes analogy because PacketPortal is an open application platform that can be used by carriers to manage many types of devices, and view and manage services across the network.

PacketPortal consists of two key components. The first is a smart network cloud-based application platform that discovers and registers all devices on the network. (By using the term cloud, JDSU is referring to the distributed nature of this solution; this is not an outsourced solution.)

The second component of PacketPortal is a microprobe. These chip-size devices can be embedded into a wide variety of network equipment (like routers or switches) or customer premises-based devices (like set-top boxes or TVs). These microprobes do what Heard describes as “light DPI” (DPI standing for deep packet inspection), and then send that information back to the PacketPortal manager for analysis and instruction. 

PacketPortal was designed over five years in collaboration with 30 service providers of all stripes across the globe. A handful of network equipment providers are now testing the microprobes. The overall solution aims to help carriers reduce mean-time-to-repair, move on new opportunities to tailor service packages and fee structures based on individual subscriber bandwidth demand, decrease the network footprint and power consumption of their network management solutions, and lower their capital and network operating expenses.

Heard says PacketPortal presents a different approach to how carriers and telecom equipment managers are addressing the collision of applications, devices, traffic load and protocols on their networks. Rather than sniffing out what’s on the network, he says, PacketPortal allows for more dynamic, holistic and scalable network management and, in a turn, a better end user experience and lower churn.

“Our vision is to expand the number of PacketPortal-enabled devices, eliminating blind spots across the network and providing service providers with the intelligence needed for profitable growth and a consistent, high-quality end user experience,” says Heard.

PacketPortal currently supports three JDSU-written applications, two applications written by other entities, and is designed to enable additional applications by the carriers or other parties. That includes a real-time signaling analyzer for 4G/LTE (News - Alert) networks; a customer device status monitoring application; and a triple-play analyzer, which can allow service providers to assess individual user’s video quality experiences. Third-party applications supported on PacketPortal today include Wireshark’s network protocol analyzer solution, and nProbe traffic monitoring.

PacketPortal will initially be used in 1gig optical port scenarios. The software is generally available now, the company has received its first purchase orders, and the product is in live networks of as-yet-unclosed carriers.

Edited by Jennifer Russell