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Managing Editor

Elusive lucre

Dec 06, 20025 mins
Cisco SystemsWi-Fi

Router giants offer suggestions on how to produce profits from packets

In a magnanimous effort to make money for everyone – including themselves – this holiday season, Juniper and Cisco have graciously and generously offered a few secrets on how to wring profits from those stingy new IP services.

In a magnanimous effort to make money for everyone – including themselves – this holiday season, Juniper and Cisco have graciously and generously offered a few secrets on how to wring profits from those stingy new IP services.

With perhaps a tongue planted firmly in its cheek, Juniper dubbed its profit making and demand creation plan MINT – as in, the place where they produce coins. MINT, which stands for Model for Integrated Network Transformation, attempts to allow service providers to address both large and niche markets by scaling their offerings to appeal to consumers, low-end businesses, and mid-to high-end businesses.

But with scale comes commodity pricing and lack of profits. So MINT also proposes a model whereby service providers generate profit through service customization and added value as they scale their services to address markets heretofore untapped or underaddressed.

The MINT framework encompasses basic transport and connectivity at its foundation, and policy and control at its peak. In between are resource segmentation and packet processing, and each layer of MINT is interdependent on the other.

The transport and connectivity layer, naturally, encompasses Juniper’s edge and core IP routers. The resource segmentation layer suggests creation of a service independent resource pool by using MPLS to partition ATM/frame relay/private line/voice, IP, and public Internet assets into virtual overlays.

The IP overlays would support the scale to address lucrative under-served markets, Juniper says, while the consolidated overlays – ATM/frame, private, voice, etc. – would collapse “conventional” services for more mainstream markets.

The packet processing layer would filter, prioritize, encrypt and classify packets according to user need, and the policy and control layer would map users to customized services, and to back-office accounting and billing applications. For example, a user request for on-demand video would activate increased bandwidth and packet priority, Juniper says, while also generating the associated billing records.

Juniper also announced several new products to support the MINT framework. This is where MINT produces coin for Juniper. Hey, there’s no free lunch.

Juniper acknowledges that MINT will be one of several service provider profitability frameworks to emerge from a handful of vendors. The company also admits that there’s “still a lot of work to do” with regard to integration of non-Juniper products into MINT.

Yet, Juniper claims that implementing even one of four operational layers of MINT will be a “leap” from where service providers are today in deriving profitability from data services. So may MINT mine money for the masses…

Meanwhile, Cisco this week unveiled a bevy of products and architectural frameworks – one is even called BLISS – designed to convince service providers that they can profitably roll out new services on new and existing circuit, packet and cable infrastructures. Cisco also announced a handful of service provider deployments as proof points on how an investment in its products can happily – BLISSfully – generate big bucks over time.

The new products include:

•  A line card for the Cisco ONS 15454 optical transport system that supports private line and switched Ethernet services.

•  Additions to Cisco’s cable modem termination systems to improve scale, performance and reliability.

•  Enhancements and additions to Cisco’s IP telephony and multiservice integration architectures to support new services and service infrastructures, such as Metro Ethernet.

On the deployment front, Cisco announced that service providers FastWeb and Bredbandsbolaget are now experiencing BLISS, or Broadband Local Integrated Services Solution. BLISS addresses IP-based multiservice provisioning over Metro Ethernet, cable and T-1/E-1 infrastructures. Components of BLISS include the access infrastructure, call control servers, public switched telephone network interconnect through Signaling System 7 (SS7), and customer premises equipment. 

Other service providers in North America, Asia Pacific and Europe are also delivering IP-based voice, data and video services to their business and residential customers via integrated Cisco product architectures – but with much less BLISS. ITXC and SingTel have deployed voice services based on Cisco Voice Infrastructure and Applications, a voice system that helps carriers deploy IP-based voice transit services over a core IP transport infrastructure.

Equant and Sprint are implementing the Cisco Managed Voice Services framework. Both service providers are offering bundled MVS services for their business customers that are seeking to outsource the management of their IP voice, data and video communications. 

MVS is built on Cisco’s multiservice VPN and managed IP telephony product offerings. With multiservice VPN, service providers can offer intersite voice, data and video IP communications over a QoS-enabled network, Cisco says.  Additionally, they can provide closed user group dialing services as well as “off-net” long-distance calling through SS7 and ISDN, the company claims. 

The managed IP telephony products provide management oversight for customers’ Cisco-based IP telephony deployments.  From the service provider’s network operations center, they can offer configuration management, performance and capacity oversight, fault monitoring, help desk and reporting, Cisco says.   So in tough times like these, fear not. Vendors have our best monetary interests in mind with programs like MINT and BLISS. Doesn’t that make you sleep better at night?

Managing Editor

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 28 years, 23 at Network World. He covers enterprise networking infrastructure, including routers and switches. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy and at

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