First Looks at Spring VON

A bustling show floor, a new tagline, new sponsors, and a bevy of workshops highlight the conference's kickoff.

By Mark A. Miller | Posted Mar 21, 2007
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The Spring VON Conference descended on the San Jose, California Convention Center this week, drawing over 8,500 preregistered attendees from over 50 countries, and over 280 vendors pitching their converged networking products. For over a decade, Pulvermedia's flagship spring conference has been held in this Silicon Valley location, but this year with an updated theme—Voice, Video and Vision—an evolutionary progression from Voice on the 'Net, the original meaning of VON.

Exemplifying this evolution are four sponsoring organizations of the conference that have also evolved in the last decade or so. These include the SIP Forum, an industry organization devoted to advancing products and services that are based on SIP (the Session Initiation Protocol), the SIP Center, a public resource that offers a public SIP Proxy for testing SIP implementations plus other SIP-related resources; the Wi-Fi Alliance, an industry association of over 250 member companies devoted to promoting wireless LANs; and the Wireless Communications Alliance (WCA), an organization of over 350 companies that promote wireless technology, standards, regulatory issues and investment analysis.

As you walk the show floor, it's immediately apparent that the industry has moved well beyond the days of connecting a computer and some voice processing software to the 'Net to make free telephone calls: The buzz is all about network reliability, testing video services, embedded processors and ASICs (application specific integrated circuits) that support converged networking protocols, and of course, the convergence of wired, wireless, and broadband networks. And to liven up the discussions, current hot buttons such as 'net neutrality, VoIP patent infringement lawsuits, and new business models for service providers were thrown in for good measure.

Challenging issues
Monday's agenda included in-depth workshops focusing on some of the industry's biggest challenges and opportunities.

  • Fixed Mobile Convergence: Transforming the World by Bridging Connectivity examined the challenges associated with complex technologies such as the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), examined the requirements and challenges for the "one phone" devices, and looked at the alphabet soup of broadband wireless technologies, including UMTS, WiMAX, WiBro and others that are becoming more ubiquitous as the days go by.
  • The Spring VON Policy Summit brought technology visionaries, business analysts, lobbyists, and policy makers together in the same room, discussing Internet regulatory challenges, government regulations of e-commerce, E911 and other applications, plus recent court cases that impact this industry.
  • Telephony's IPTV Workshop: Redefining Video considered both the opportunities and challenges of offering television over IP networks, including allowing the customer more control over their programming choices, monitoring and testing the quality of the video that they see, and evolving the public networks to support these bandwidth-consuming applications.
  • Emerging Media Dynamics' New Video Summit: Silicon Valley Meets Hollywood on the Internet discussed the vast number of video choices available today on the Internet, and ways to measure viewers' approval of what they see, how technology companies and traditional media outlets will come to terms regarding business and legal issues, and what type of business models—video-on-demand, subscription, streaming, or advertising-supported—will be most profitable for all.

Hot topics
Seamus Hourihan, VP of Marketing and Product Management at Acme Packet spoke on Session Border Controllers in Action, detailing some of the 325 carrier implementations of his company's SBC products worldwide. Hourihan noted that security is by far the most critical function of these systems, given the propensity of hackers to try and crack IP networking infrastructures. Other key attributes that both enterprise and service providers require for their peer-to-peer interconnections include Service Reach, such as SIP/H.323 interworking functions and encryption support; Service Level Agreements Assurance, including admission control and Quality of Service (QoS) reporting; Revenue and Profit Protection, clearly essential, given the very competitive nature of the service provider business; and Regulatory Concerns, such as lawful intercept and E911 capabilities.

Steve DesRochers, VP of Brix Networks, examined the topic of Converged Service Assurance: Test Measure, Guarantee, before another standing-room-only crowd. Brix announced at the show that it will be collaborating with Cisco Systems' Linksys division and Internet phone service provider SunRocket, to deliver automated endpoint monitoring to improve the Quality of Experience (QoE) of SunRocket's customers. Brix has integrated its service assurance technology with various Linksys home networking devices, such as Analog Terminal Adapters (ATAs), thus automating loopback testing and other net management functions to proactively manage the performance of SunRocket's Internet phone service. The Brix product suite includes three offerings: BrixCall, a VoIP call analysis and correlation application, BrixVision, an end-to-end IP video service assurance solution, and BrixCare, which measures IP service quality to/from the subscriber or end-user.

Copyright Acknowledgement: © 2007 DigiNet Corporation ®, All Rights Reserved


Author's Biography
Mark A. Miller, P.E. is President of DigiNet Corporation®, a Denver-based consulting engineering firm. He is the author of many books on networking technologies, including Voice over IP Technologies, and Internet Technologies Handbook, both published by John Wiley & Sons.

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