JDSU (NASDAQ: JDSU; and TSX: JDU) has unveiled a new concept in network monitoring, troubleshooting, and network use analysis. PacketPortal, which the company describes as a “Smart Network Application Platform,” uses data collected via FPGA-based microprobes embedded in optical transceivers to collect traffic data. A variety of cloud-based applications for customer care, marketing, and other functions will then use that data to monitor network health, troubleshoot problems, or discover customer usage patterns for which service providers could develop new offerings.
Use of the technology will reduce truck rolls, simplify and accelerate trouble shooting and maintenance, and provide a window into the use of network services, JDSU asserts.
The PacketPortal concept is the result of consultations with about 30 carriers, David Heard, president of JDSU’s Communications Test and Measurement business segment, told Lightwave last week. The concept is equally applicable to wireline and wireless networks, as exemplified by the first five applications that JDSU will offer beginning next month:
- A triple-play service analyzer
- A mobile network signaling analyzer
- The WireShark open source protocol analyzer
- n Probe, a traffic statistics generator
- A customer device status monitoring package.
Besides its functionality, the addition of the WireShark application demonstrates the ability of PacketPortal to accept third-party applications, whether developed in-house by service providers or by an app provider, Heard explained.
JDSU has the master PacketPortal software ready. The next obvious steps are to make available optical transceivers with the FPGA-based microprobes and then convince systems developers to offer them to their carrier customers. Heard says that the first step has been completed, using an Avago Technologies SFP. When asked why the devices weren’t coming from JDSU’s Communications and Commercial Optical Products Business Segment, Heard revealed that the basis for PacketPortal came from JDSU’s May 2010 acquisition of Agilent's Network Solutions Division, which had already signed Avago as an exclusive supplier of the devices. Heard expressed confidence that a second source for the transceivers would be in place within a year to 18 months.
The company also hopes to see the microprobes embedded in other network endpoints, including set-top boxes, as well as smaller transceivers.
JDSU’s success in spreading these microprobes will hinge on its ability to convince systems houses to buy into the concept. Heard says that negotiations are “in process” with eight network equipment manufacturers, one of which has agreed to be the first to roll out the technology.
More than 10 service providers are in active field trials of PacketPortal, and JDSU will be in a position to accept orders next month.
JDSU has already rounded up endorsements of the concept. “Service providers are concerned with end-to-end performance of applications, so monitoring, measuring, and assurance solutions have to be flexible, not restricting carriers by limiting where data is captured within a network,” according to Michael Howard, co-founder and principal analyst of Infonetics Research. “PacketPortal’s capability to be moved around the network to its most congested points is what operators want for optimal performance of their next-generation networks.”
Added Graham Bishop, engineering director, at TalkTalk Technology, “TalkTalk is focused on delivering the best value broadband services to consumers and businesses. Partnering with JDSU to take early advantage of PacketPortal’s ability to obtain unique customer intelligence will allow us to improve our customers’ experience while delivering significant operating efficiencies and setting the foundation for innovative, exciting new services.”
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