I was reminded of one of my favorite old jokes this morning. The great explorer Johnson was very curious to find out the real cause of Mozart’s death, and after much political wrangling, he received permission to unseal Mozart’s crypt and exhume his body for an autopsy. Well, you can imagine his surprise, when, upon opening the crypt, he saw Wolfgang Amadeus himself, sitting at a table, furiously erasing reams and reams of musical notation.
“My Lord!” cried Johnson. “What in heaven’s name are you doing?”
“Why my dear Mr. Johnson… Can’t you see? I’m decomposing!”
OK, now that you’ve all let out a collective groan… What brought this up was the fact that Acme Packet
today announced several new session border control configurations of its Net-Net product family. These configurations feature subsets of Acme Packet’s Net-Net OS software technology used by Acme Packet’s integrated session border controller (SBC), the Net-Net Session Director (SD).
The configurations, which decompose the SBC into separate signaling and media control systems for SIP sessions, include the Net-Net Border Gateway (BG), Session Controller (SC) and Signaling Firewall (SF). Supported on both the Net-Net 4000 and 9000 series hardware platforms, they provide Acme Packet’s distribution partners and service provider customers with increased flexibility and scalability in implementing next-generation IMS and derivative service architectures such as ETSI TISPAN, MSF and PacketCable.
I asked Brian Partridge, Senior Analyst, Communications Network Infrastructure, Yankee Group, what he thought the significance of Acme Packet’s decomposition announcement might be. Partridge told me “The decomposed model for SBC configurations (and their corresponding mapping to NGN/IMS architectures) will be the one that is favored by most tier one operators over time for peering IP networks so they can benefit through independent scaling of signaling and media control.
“While the technical reasons for doing so are still academic at this point,” Partridge continued, “there are compelling business reasons, such as network size scales way up and increased OPEX savings because you wouldn’t have to deploy as many signaling control elements if they are separate.”
With over 2,500 systems deployed (of the integrated variety) Acme Packet is not changing their religion. They are however being asked by their larger customers to provide an alternative design, and today’s announcement shows that they are willing to work with their partners to deliver the functionality they need, in the form factors they desire.
According to an Acme Packet news release, there are two architectural options for implementing the session border control function — integrated and decomposed. An integrated SBC integrates signaling and media control in a single hardware-based system. Alternatively, session border control may be implemented using a decomposed architecture using physically separate signaling and media control systems.
According to Seamus Hourihan, Acme Packet’s vice president of product marketing and product management, “At the end of the day we want to provide our customers choice.”
When I asked Partridge if he thought decomposed solutions would increasingly replace the more traditional integrated deployments of session border controllers, he replied, “It will be the way of the future in the Tier One operators, below that we'll see integrated SBC solutions remain in favor, I believe.”
Acme Packet stated that any of the configurations may be software upgraded to different configuration should border requirements change.