Control plane software can create light paths through carrier networks.PORTLAND, ORE. - Elematics is introducing software designed to ease the provisioning of\u00a0optical circuits by talking directly to the network devices and associated management systems.Called Intelligent Network Control Plane (INCP), the software communicates with network elements and their element management systems to gather data needed to determine which devices are available to support new circuits. That data is passed up to\u00a0operations support systems (OSS) that can map in new circuits.The OSSes pass down a description of the desired new circuit, and INCP turns that into commands that reconfigure network devices to activate a new circuit. The software eliminates the need to manually configure devices to provision new optical pathways, the company says.Current provisioning of optical circuits can take days or weeks if it means that engineers have to examine network elements, design a circuit and reconfigure devices one at a time to support it.To automate the process, INCP needs to be able to talk to existing devices and OSSes, which means Elematics must write software for each element and OSS that would be involved in creating circuits. So far, the company has written interfaces for optical gear made by Ciena, Cisco, Nortel and ONI (now part of Ciena). These devices were chosen because they are the most popular and widely deployed in combination with each other in carrier networks, Elematics says.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nPROFILE: ELEMATICS\n\n\n\nHeadquarters: \nPortland, Ore.\n\n\n\nFounded: \nDecember 2000\n\n\n\nFunding:\n$11 million from Warburg Pincus; The Hatch Group; VenturiFX, Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison; and others.\n\n\n\nFounders:\nClive Cook and Alex Mashinsky\n\n\n\nEmployees:\n50\n\n\n\nProduct: \nIntelligent Network Control Plane software \n\n\n\nCompetitors:\nEmperative, NetPhone\n\n\n\nFun fact: \nThe company changed its name from QOptics because it was getting phone calls asking if it fixed sunglasses.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThis group of devices makes it possible to provision optical transport links through the core of provider networks. The company says it plans to extend its set of interfaces to other vendors' gear over time. The goal is to interface with enough elements to provision circuits over metropolitan and access networks as well as core networks, Elematics says. This would include optical cross-connects, add-drop multiplexers and optical switches.It takes about three months to integrate INCP with a vendor's element management software, which would still be required to distribute software revisions to devices, Elematics says.INCP uses generalized Multi-protocol Label Switching (GMPLS) as its control plane logic. GMPLS was devised to isolate the control plane from the data plane in heterogeneous networks that use diversified data planes including packet, time division multiplexing and optical.By embracing GMPLS, "[INCP] fits into the way vendors and carriers look at network management," says David Krozier, an analyst with RHK. But because GMPLS is still developing, interoperability is uncertain."There [have] become islands of management, and everybody's system only operates by itself," Krozier says.An overarching software like INCP interfacing with enough vendors' gear can help resolve and connect these islands."If you had this in your whole network, this would improve performance," he says.INCP automatically discovers equipment in providers' networks and creates an inventory of what resources are used and what resources are available. Such inventories are a long-standing shortcoming of service providers, Krozier says."Carriers want to get a system in place so what's written in their records matches what's in place in the network," he says.The company says the price of INCP starts in the six figures and is based on the number of network elements being managed. It is available now.