Ever since the telecom and web worlds began their collision course, the broadband service providers that began life as cablecos and telcos have worked to adjust from their slower, more deliberate, way of doing things to Internet time – that is, move at a much faster rate.
Software-defined networking is an important move in that direction, as is network functions virtualization. Indeed, most major service providers have now embraced NFV and SDN strategies in an effort to lower their costs and, more importantly, better position them to expedite the delivery of new features and services.
However, most of the early communications service provider efforts on the SDN front revolve around the network core, and will likely involve lengthy timelines for full implementation. In the meantime, service providers – which already have seen over-the-top players capture 30 percent of voice traffic in seven years – need solutions that support them on their paths to network transformation while allowing them to quickly and efficiently introduce new revenue-generating services today.
That strategy involves expanding Edgewater Networks’ existing product lines; virtualizing its appliances; and delivering edge network platforms on which service providers can layer on new services and functionality over time, and providing a simple and scalable way to manage them.
Gaining an Edge
The company brings to the table more than 10 years of experience in providing managed services platforms for the delivery of real-time communications, including IP-based voice, video, and data services.
The Edgewater Networks portfolio includes EdgeMarc Enterprise Session Border Controllers, which simplify the deployment of converged voice and data services while improving call quality, security, and the overall end user experience; EdgeProtect Enterprise Session Border Controllers, which enable enterprises to securely and simply extend the delivery of voice, video and unified communications applications to remote employees; and the EdgeView VoIP Support System, which allows service providers and enterprises to reduce operating expenses by streamlining configuration, automating routine tasks, and simplifying the diagnosis and resolution of networking issues.
Between 6 million and 7 million Edgewater Networks E-SBC sessions are currently in use by some of the largest service providers, including one of the two largest U.S. carriers and three of the top five U.S. cable operators. And more than 250,000 of the company’s E-SBC units are currently deployed.
Hitting the Marc
One tenet of the Edgewater Networks strategy involves the expansion of its existing product lines.
Just last month, in fact, Edgewater Networks introduced a new member to its EdgeMarc portfolio: the EdgeMarc 4700. Edgewater Networks refers to the EdgeMarc 4700 as its 100-100-100 box, because it has 100mbps connectivity on the upstream and downstream links, and it can support 100 concurrent calls, explains John Macario (News - Alert), vice president of marketing.
The EdgeMarc 4700 addresses the middle ground between Edgewater Networks’ existing E-SBCs that support up to 70 concurrent VoIP calls and are targeted at small to medium businesses, and its EdgeMarc 7000 Series solutions, which support fiber-based locations that need to field up to 1,000 or 2,000 concurrent calls, and serve up to 8,000 registered devices.
The company came out with the EdgeMarc 4700 Series, which targets users with 300 to 400 employees, at this point in time to address the fact that bandwidth prices are coming down, so more SMBs are moving to hosted voice or SIP trunking solutions, Macario explains. As more businesses are served by higher speed connections, Norman adds, virtual appliances can run as an extension of a data center, and that opens the door to the use of virtual appliances.
That said, Edgewater Networks is working to virtualize its solutions.
At ITEXPO (News - Alert) and the co-located Software Telco Congress event in mid August, at which Edgewater Networks was a Diamond Sponsor and provided a keynote speech, the company showed a virtual version of its EdgeProtect E-SBC. The product, which handles data, voice, and also video traffic, will be commercially available in virtualized form starting in the fourth quarter. The ITEXPO demonstration featured multiple virtualized E-SBCs, as well as third-party solutions being managed by an Edgewater Networks system.
While EdgeProtect solutions tend to be implemented in low numbers (like one or two of them) per organization, Macario adds, the company’s EdgeMarc E-SBCs tend to be used in broader deployments. Every time a service provider sells a hosted service to a business, it ships an EdgeMarc to that customer, which means over time a service provider may have thousands of EdgeMarcs in the field.
In that case, he notes, virtualization becomes more complicated due to the scale involved.
< >A New View<subhead>
To address that challenge, Edgewater Networks is transforming its EdgeView product into a multitenant edge service delivery platform that can enable SBC functionality and support new business services such as unified threat management.
Referred to internally at Edgewater Networks as Apollo, this new SDN orchestration solution will allow a service provider to control thousands or get more of EdgeMarc devices without having a single instance for each one.
Edgewater Networks’ overall SDN strategy, Norman elaborates, involves leveraging distributed controllers in the cloud and virtualized appliances to allow service providers to do flow orchestration and policy management, and to get new services to market faster by leveraging carriers’ existing edge platforms so they don’t have to reinvent the wheel with each new offering.
“That way, it’s cost effective and service providers can deliver enterprise solutions to a broader and broader base of customers,” he adds.
Those solutions could include anything from a unified threat management service that a service provider could use to upsell its existing hosted service customers, to an MCU bridging capability to support videoconferencing.
Show Me the Money
This strategy adds up both for service providers, and for Edgewater Networks itself.
In April, Edgewater Networks announced it had raised $5 million in debt financing from Eastward Capital to develop NFV and SDN solutions. And in June Edgewater Networks brought former Polycom (News - Alert) executive Steve Pattison aboard as vice president of corporate development to drive growth for its existing lines of E-SBC products, and its NFV and SDN efforts.
“We believe that SDN and NFV are driving significant transformation in service provider networks and opening new avenues for service delivery,” Norman says. “We are excited about the expansion of our product portfolio and how it will help our customers to easily deliver a new class of profitable business services.”
Edited by Stefania Viscusi