Tellabs has announced a new router platform for carriers and network operators, aimed at giving them more visibility and control over the rising tide of wireless-driven data, application by application. This intelligence could be used by enterprises to better manage, plan and provision mobile data requirements and carrier service offerings.
The SmartCore 9200 series IP "content router" sits between data aggregation nodes at the carrier's packet core. Each 100Gbps line card handles traditional tasks like data forwarding, traffic management and the like, but Tellabs has created what it calls onboard content and security engines, for packet-by-packet traffic inspection and security. A separate new software application can analyze the data and report on details and trends.
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This new application-level intelligence is critical for mobile data networks, according to Tellabs executives. "Today's backhaul infrastructures are doing IP, address-based forwarding," says Tom Doiron, director of product management for Tellabs, based in Naperville, Ill. "These networks say, 'I know where this packet needs to go,' and forward it. But they don't know that the packets are a streaming video from Netflix."
Carriers and operators today can use hardware appliances, called probes, to sift the traffic and pull from it some information about its characteristics, Doiron says. But it's inefficient, expensive, and mainly provides historical data.
By contrast, the 9200 models simply plug into an existing network and have the horsepower and brains to create real-time views of the traffic, classify it by application, trace the application's behavior and performance through the network, and store all that metadata for analytical reports.
With this kind of intelligence, carriers can troubleshoot problems more specifically and quickly, and build new services. "You can look at individual subscriber data to see how one customer might consistently have bad or inconsistent performance for a given application, or at a given location," says Doiron.
The application intelligence can let carriers craft premium services with guaranteed service levels. "In North America, on a Friday night, carriers report that about 40% of their traffic is streaming Netflix videos," says Michael O'Malley, Tellabs' director of marketing strategy. "The carrier gets only the standard data tariff of the customer's plan, and yet that traffic is consuming almost half of the network's bandwidth."
Using data from the Tellabs 9600, a carrier could create a streaming service, for an added fee, that would carry a video stream to a customer regardless of his location or client device.
Enterprise IT can expect smarter managed data services from carriers. For example, in the last week of each quarter data from the corporate SAP application becomes critical for quarterly financial reporting. Instead of having to pay for more capacity, Doiron says, an enterprise can contract with its carrier to identify the SAP traffic and give it priority on the network, for an added fee.
There are three models, with two, four or 12 slots. Initially they will use 100Gbps line cards, with 500Gbps cards planned. The router architecture is designed to scale easily, by simply adding cards or boxes.
The first units will be deployed at Telstra, the big Australian carrier where the 9800 is being beta tested, during the first half of 2012. The product becomes generally available in the second half of next year.
Also new is Tellabs Insight Analytics Services, a set of applications that collect and process the network data, and package it into an array of reports. Initially, the software can process data from Tellabs' own SmartCore 9100 probe, or third-party probes. In the future it will process data from the 9800 router. The software shows how the overall network and the applications running over it are performing; uses various measures to characterize the user's per-session experience; and provides a set of marketing analytics, for example, to assess how well services are performing, and correlate them with subscriber behaviors.
Insight Analytics will be generally available later this year.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.
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