Vendor Network Architectures�PartXL: Netcentrex

Here's a product that makes it quick and simple for service providers to provision up-to-date communications for SOHO businesses.

By Mark A. Miller | Posted Aug 29, 2006
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Netcentrex, Inc. is a firm with origins in France—and a different twist on the VoIP switching marketplace: delivering IP Centrex services to small enterprises. Netcentrex was founded in December 1998 by the lead VoIP architect from France Telecom's Research and Development, and backed by leading European and U.S. venture capital funds. The firm was acquired by Comverse Technology, Inc. in May 2006, and is now a line of business in the Comverse group. Its main administration, sales, and support offices are based in Paris, with three research and development centers in France. Regional offices are located in San Jose, Calif., Madrid, and Taiwan. Netcentrex has a market presence in over 25 countries, staffed by 300 employees. The company claims that its products are deployed in two of the world's largest IP networks, handling up to 12 million calls per day. Netcentrex clients include over 50 service providers in more than 25 countries throughout the world.

Recent European market research reveals that although more than 90 percent of enterprises on that continent have fewer than 10 employees they employ over 30 percent of the total workforce. If this premise if correct, a very large (and possibly untapped) market exists for these small firms, many of which have the same communication needs as larger enterprises. Netcentrex's key product, called IPCentrex One, is designed to enable carriers to address this large market with prepackaged, full-featured, hosted IP telephony solutions that have been optimized for the very small enterprise market.

The Netcentrex solutions are designed with an architecture that is based upon the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) technologies, which enable fixed/mobile network convergence. The IPCentrex One product is a turnkey solution for hosted telephony services that gives service providers easy entry into the IP centrex market for small enterprises or small office/home office (SOHO) applications. The product is designed for simplicity—easy to sell, easy to provision, and easy to install.

The Netcentrex platforms are IP and software-based; they run on industry-standard hardware from Hewlett-Packard and IBM. The product architecture consists of several distinct platforms. The Call Control Platform consists of a call control server, which performs core network call control and switching functions for multimedia traffic, including voice, video, and instant messaging. The Applications and Media Platform consists of a media control server which supports thousands of simultaneous lines across VoIP, Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), and mobile networks. The System Management Platform provides a comprehensive framework for system configuration, provisioning, modification, and optimization.

IPCentrex One includes Customer Premise Equipment (CPE), Integrated Access Devices (IADs), and/or IP phones that are pre-provisioned and work with existing phones and fax terminals. The CPE terminals are all detected by automated discovery with automatic configuration of the features, and can be activated in approximately one hour from the time IP Phones or IADs arrive at the enterprise. On the service provider side, there is a single provisioning screen that is adapted to the business model of each reseller or for multiple third party distributors and retailers, with web-based account-configuration and management capabilities that simplify and optimize service delivery.

The IAD is designed to be an "all-in-one-box", including support for ADSL, fax relay using the T.38 protocol, the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), the Media Gateway Control Protocol (MGCP), plus IP quality of service. Many standard centrex features are supported, including caller ID, message-waiting indication, call forwarding, call groups, call logs, and voicemail. Network management features are particularly strong, with support for multiple types of rating and billing services, inbound and outbound call detail records, historical reports, plus authentication and security.

Further details on the Netcentrex architecture and products can be found at www.netcentrex.com. Our next tutorial will continue our examination of vendors' architectures.

Copyright Acknowledgement: © 2006 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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