The software telco(r)evolution representing the move from hardware to software is perhaps the biggest trend in the world of carrier telecom this decade. Whenever we see such disruption in a market, it becomes an opportunity for new entrants to displace existing companies. As you may recall, Sonus Networks and Acme Packet (now Oracle) were just a few companies which were born and prospered during the transition from circuit to packet switched carrier networks.
In the past I have written about Metaswitch and their software telco solutions through NFV or network functions virtualization and their open-source Project Clearwater initiative which allows a carrier to run IMS on standard servers for free.
In both instances the company has shown leadership in the move to software which runs a telco. Another company I consider a software telco pioneer is Alianza. I wrote about them in 2011 when they announce d a deal with Clearwire to provide the company with hosted voice solutions.
I spoke with Kevin Mitchell the company’s Vice President of Marketing, about his company today and this is what you should know. Alianza has a relationship with Level 3 Communications who provides the termination, origination and wholesale services while the company provides a cloud-based voice platform. He says the company provides everything a voice service provider would need to buy, build or manage. In fact the two companies are working together to provide customers with the Level 3 Carrier Cloud Voice Solution. He continued that this could apply to a green field situation or even a migration to IMS.
The concept of “software telco” is a move from “bespoke or custom” hardware to software – there really is no reason why the solution can’t live a cloud and be delivered as a service. In fact, Mitchell tells me that his company embraces much of the concepts embodied in NFV… He says they run their own software and leverage VMware and HP servers for session management, applications and features.
Kevin further explained that a service provider using Alianza instead of hosting their own equipment wouldn’t have to deal with the CAPEX associated with the servers and other equipment needed to run the network. In fact they would just need to provide the CPE such as ATAs, soft clients or IP phones and pay Alianza as they grow. He also said that not all of his customers have the budget for SIP, VoIP and IMS expertise and as a result they turn to his company so they can in-turn focus on improving their video services and broadband speeds.
Moreover, he touted the company’s 350 web methods for integration and control functionality allowing smooth back office, customer care and billing integration. He also explained that carriers aren’t locked into preset calling/service plans… They have complete control of how their customers receive and are billed for the service they receive.
A wave of cloud-based companies are providing enterprises with cloud-based services from payroll to CRM and call recording. To date, communications service providers haven’t had many options to choose from in this area and the nature of their business dictated in many cases that they manage everything themselves.
With the advent of NFV, carriers told equipment providers that they wanted to be able to design their networks in the same way an enterprise designs its data center… Using virtualized software running on OTS servers. As this transition continues, there is no reason why a carrier shouldn’t or wouldn’t consider working with a cloud-based provider for their IMS services as well.
After all, if you are going to become a software telco, you have to explore what the benefits are of controlling all of the software yourself. Why not get a head start and host your services from a carrier that exists already, providing you APIs and referenceable customers? This of course is the vision Alianza hopes many carriers will continue to consider when evaluating their software telco options.
Be sure to learn everything there is to know about NFV and the birth of the software telco at Software Telco Congress, Nov 19-21, 2013 in Santa Clara, Ca.