Allot Communications (www.allot.com) provides intelligent IP service optimization solutions for DSL, wireless and mobile broadband carriers, service providers, and enterprises. Allot's portfolio of hardware platforms and software applications employs Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology to make over broadband pipes into smart networks that can rapidly and efficiently deploy value-added Internet services.
Recently Allot announced the launch of the Allot Service Gateway (News
) Sigma (SG-Sigma). With 40 Gbps of throughput and fully attuned to 3G and 4G/LTE networks, the SG-Sigma is designed to enable network operators to generate additional revenue streams and increase subscriber Quality of Experience (QoE).
The SG-Sigma is said to be the only DPI-based Service Gateway platform designed specifically for mobile and next generation networks. It facilitates the fast introduction of new Value-Added Services (VAS) for networks and subscribers, such as URL filtering and network security, as well as tiered and quota based services. The SG-Sigma’s unique “topology and service aware” technology is designed to solve mobile broadband traffic management and backhaul congestion issues – enabling operators to decrease operating expenses while increasing QoE to subscribers. Allot provides DPI-based policy and charging enforcement function (PCEF) compliant with 3G, 4G/LTE (News
) and WiMax networks.
The SG-Sigma’s modular and flexible carrier-class architecture enables “pay as you grow” deployments, allowing network operators to add throughput, subscribers and services as and when needed – reducing the initial deployment outlay. With the introduction of SG-Sigma, Allot deployments can scale up to 30 million mobile broadband subscribers.
Cam Cullen, Director of Product Management at Allot America, says, “When looking at our space, a lot of things have happened over the past year or two in terms of the market landscape changing. Things such as net neutrality have entered the picture. We’re seeing dramatic shift in interest from the service providers. It’s not just about traffic shaping and control or even visibility – there’s also an increased emphasis on services and how anyone can use the intelligence and knowledge of DPI to turn that into revenue and to simplify my network operations.”
“We announced in 2007 our Service Gateway Omega platform,” says Cullen, “and now what we’re essentially announcing is the next version of that, called the Service Gateway Sigma. It uses the same physical chassis as the Omega, so customers that bought the Omega two years ago can just upgrade some modules and some software in their chassis, and they can now take full advantage of jumping up to 40 Gbps of capacity. The scalability of the platform has increased dramatically in terms of the number of real active subscribers that can be supported, specifically targeting the mobile space. With the Service Gateway Omega, we introduced the capability to embed partner applications inside the chassis and we’ve actually increased the capability of that dramatically with the Sigma being able to support multiple partner applications simultaneously inside the system.”
“As an overview, the Sigma is a 40 Gbps platform, capable of housing up to eight 10 Gbps interfaces,” says Cullen, “so we’re giving service providers many options topology-wise how they connect it into the network, where they place it in the network, and so forth. One of the interesting things that we’ve seen is that customers are interested in perhaps not necessarily deploying the system far out into the network, but putting it further back a little bit, where you have larger bandwidth requirements, but you also have a larger number of subscribers that may be connected to the network at one time. So when we scaled out the platform, increasing the bandwidth meant that we also had to increase the scalability of the subscriber counts and the number of sessions of which the platform is capable of sustaining. Then there’s the matter of the number of users to which once can apply policies, and even the number of devices that may be needed to communicate with from a policy management perspective. All of these are very important, and are part of the evolution of the service gateway.”
“One of the specific markets that we’ve really focused on over the past year is the mobile market,” says Cullen. “A number of things have happened, specifically when you look at the new devices and service plans that are introduced over the past year – the iPhone, the G1, the Blackberry Bold – a lot of these really smart devices have shifted mobile broadband from people getting email and maybe viewing a few web pages for sports scores, to YouTube video downloads and uploads in real time. Then there’s the increase in service offerings from providers where they’re now pushing Fixed-Mobile Substitution for broadband, where a provider offers you a laptop module so that rather than try to find a WiFi hotspots, Verizon, Sprint and I believe AT&T (News
) at this point are offering unlimited mobile broadband services, where now the mobile network is beginning to behave from a application and traffic point of view similar to the fixed-broadband market where cable and fiber-to-the-home and DSL play. But the mobile operators’ networks were not built to support that traffic model. So they’re increasingly turning to products such as what we have, not only to control their traffic, but to use this for new service integration and actually integrate with their next-generation architectures, such as LTE, IMS, 3G and 4G.”
“We have announced, over the past six months, five tier-1 mobile operators worldwide that are using our Service Gateway platform with subscriber counts essentially in the hundreds of millions of users across our mobile installed base and then many, many other smaller providers are also using these platforms,” says Cullen. “It is an area in which we’re seeing a tremendous amount of growth as they move from 2.5G to 3G to 4G. The bandwidth is increasing, the amount of users that are actually using the data services and the amount each user takes advantage of that is causing some of the traditional DPI platforms some challenges, and one of the biggest advantages of the Sigma is that, if you bought one of our platforms in 2007 you can now upgrade it to 40 Gigabits per second, and we intend to increase that capacity over time. So a customer that buys this platform today may still have it in their network five years from now, just with some hardware and software upgrades, may be able to take its capacity up to 256 Gbps.”
“From our perspective, what we’re trying to do for our service provider customers and mobile customers is to give them the tools to make their network operate better for their customers,” says Cullen. “For example, one of the big service offerings that we see taking advantage of the capabilities of the service gateway is mobile operators using this for URL filtering or ‘blacklisting’. What I mean is that around the world there has been a move to block illegal child pornography websites in the network without any question, because there’s no reason why anyone would want to access that. In the U.S. all of the major fixed and mobile operators have signed on to this pledge to block it in their network and this is one of the service offerings that we are integrating into our Service Gateway. Another example concerns how many of the mobile operators are starting to push VoIP services over their mobile network, whether it’s their own VoIP or even allowing other VoIP to get onto their network. What they want to do is to ensure that their infrastructure can prioritize that real-time traffic over non-real-time traffic such as file downloads and we browsing, thus ensuring that their customers have a good experience and therefore want to use their mobile services instead of their fixed broadband.”
SG-Sigma is built to AdvancedTCA (News
) form factor standards and is ready for customer trials.