Edge router newcomer Laurel Networks enters the profitable-service\/demand-creation plan market with a program designed to chart the feasibility of carrier technology upgrades\nPITTSBURGH - Edge router newcomer Laurel Networks last week entered the profitable-service\/demand-creation plan market with a program designed to chart the feasibility of carrier technology upgrades.The 3-year-old company unveiled FirstSTEP, a "strategic technology evolution" program providing financial analysis, back-office integration, and device and network validation tools to guide carriers through a technology overhaul at the edge of their networks. The goal of the overhaul is to replace legacy gear with systems - Laurel's ST200 routers - that support packet-based multiservice networking capabilities.FirstSTEP comes after programs that\u00a0Cisco and\u00a0Juniper released to direct carriers through a technology migration that would result in profitable rollout of new services and increased sales of Cisco and Juniper products.Cisco has been enticing carriers to move from a commodity transport to a value-added services and applications business model, and encouraging cable multisystem operators to encroach on carriers' revenue streams, thereby creating competition and demand for Cisco products. Cisco also has described architectural frameworks - one such framework is called Broadband Local Integrated Services Solution (BLISS) - designed to convince service providers that they can roll out profitable new services by augmenting existing circuit, packet and cable infrastructures with new purchase orders for Cisco products (see\u00a0story).Not to be outdone on the conceptual framework front, Juniper announced its own profitability\/sales-generation plan called Model for Integrated Network Transformation (MINT). MINT proposes a model whereby service providers generate profit through service customization and added value as they scale their services - through purchase and installation of Juniper products - to address untapped or underserved markets. (see\u00a0story).Now it's Laurel's turn. FirstSTEP is more tangible than BLISS or MINT because it proposes establishing quantifiable and qualitative test scenarios for new technology and service rollouts, rather than concepts."It's simpler to grasp," says Mark Bieberich, an analyst at The Yankee Group. "It focuses on four very tangible aspects of the product's [proposal], whereas the other programs seem to incorporate quite a few more aspects of the overall solution."The components of FirstSTEP include a financial modeler for custom business-case analysis; a portable test bed to put the ST200 through its multiservice paces; a multimillion dollar integration lab to validate the ST200's operation in a carrier environment; and a software tool kit to enable integration with a carrier's existing network management infrastructure.The Multiservice Edge Financial Modeler quantifies the financial effect of multiservice edge deployment by calculating the revenue, capital investment, operations expenses, service margins and return on investment that can be achieved with the ST200 vs. a traditional multidevice edge configuration. For example, carriers can model "cap-and-grow," greenfield or transition-over-three-years scenarios for a mix of new and existing services with different growth rates, Laurel says.PerfectStorm Portable Testbed lets carriers perform multiservice edge proof-ofconcept test cases on Laurel's ST200 routers. Carriers can validate the scalability and performance of new and existing services, including Internet, ATM and frame relay, quality-of-service-enabled Ethernet, IP VPNs, Layer 2 VPNs and any-to-any interworking between ATM, frame relay and Ethernet, among other scenarios, Laurel says.BigBang Integration Lab simulates a large-scale, multivendor service provider network and is available to carriers to validate services across a replica of their infrastructure. BigBang Integration Lab tests multiservice edge interoperability with existing core and access networks by simulating a Tier-1 carrier network using test gear and widely installed vendor equipment.Laurel Provisioning System AnyOSS Integration Toolkit uses Java,\u00a0Common Object Request Broker Architecture\u00a0and\u00a0XML APIs to tie ST200 router and multiservice edge management into the carrier's existing operations support system environment.