Genband Aims to "Make Networks Smarter"
The company announces a raft of products that shows a vision that's as sweeping as the Oracle-Acme combination promises to be. But can they win with it?
Session Border Controllers (SBCs) have been a hot technology product for more than a year in the enterprise, and even longer in the service provider space. They really caught fire last week, when Oracle agreed to pay in the neighborhood of $2 billion to acquire SBC pioneer Acme Packet, one of the market leaders. With Acme snapped up, many eyes in the industry turned to competitors like Sonus, AudioCodes, and Genband.
It turns out that the last of that list, Genband, was already locked and loaded to make a major product announcement when the Oracle-Acme deal happened. In fact, it was the morning that the big acquisition was announced when I had a chance to take a briefing with Charlie Vogt, CEO of Genband. Charlie offered me his take on the Oracle-Acme deal, then we got down to the reason why the briefing had originally been set up--a Genband announcement that, in scope and vision, is pretty similar to the vision that many in the industry believe is driving the Oracle-Acme combination--one that encompasses true end-to-end IP, crossing the borders of enterprise and public networks, delivering applications and capabilities that reside in the cloud.
The Genband announcement went under the catchphrase, "Making Networks Smarter," and it breaks down into four parts:
* IMS Solutions: This set of features and functions for IMS, voice over LTE (VoLTE) and Rich Communications Services (RCS) technologies on mobile networks is branded CONTiNUUM (that's how they spell it, with the little "i", a convention that runs throughout this platform). CONTiNUUM is a set of IMS, session controllers and gateways for deployment within carrier networks, as a solution set that Genband calls SmartCore.
* SBCs: This is the edge solution, dubbed SmartEdge, running on products branded QUANTiX. It includes session border controllers as well as security gateways and session management; a year ago, Genband had only a single SBC model, while this will expand it to a family of products, Charlie Vogt told me. He also said that Genband will have an all-software SBC and will also be able to support cloud-based SBC deployments.
* Unified Communications: The solution set here is called SmartExperience and the products are branded EXPERiUS. It's an applications portfolio that, as Genband puts it, "provide comprehensive unified multimedia communications, mobility, conferencing and messaging for business and residential markets," aimed at service providers, "to expand their offerings, reduce subscriber churn, tap new sources of revenue and provide a rich, simplified communications experience."
* Cloud-Based Services: In addition to offering providers the application platform above, Genband is also rolling out NUViA, a UC-as-a-Service (UCaaS) platform that Genband will run out of its own datacenters and white-label to service providers as a turnkey cloud service for resale. Genband's global professional services organization will support the service.
So if you stack this announcement up next to the Oracle-Acme deal, you basically have the first two bullets corresponding to Acme's role, and the next two representing what Oracle does or could do.
Charlie Vogt told me that the pieces do represent an end-to-end IP play. And he stressed that getting the customer excited about the applications enabled through Xperius will be crucial to pulling the infrastructure pieces of the strategy through. So Genband will be relying on carriers and the channel to foster the demand that will drive adoption of the underlying gear that makes up a good chunk of this announcement. That may prove to be the most difficult challenge.