Premisys delves deeper into network

Premisys delves deeper into network – Premisys launches multifabric bandwidth optimizing products

Wayne Carter

Q-Broadband series aimed at multilayer concentration

As the Telecommunications Act of 1996 drives changes in the industry, those changes are driving equipment providers in new directions.

Fremont, Calif.-based Premisys, which has made a name for itself with its Integrated Multiple Access Communications Server customer premises offering, is extending its reach into the network.

At Supercomm ’97, Premisys announced a new line of products, the Q-Broadband Series. Premisys describes the Q series products as “multifabric bandwidth optimizers,” meaning they can support multiple transmission fabrics–including asynchronous transfer mode, time division multiplexing and Sonet/synchronous digital hierarchy–from a single shelf. The products are designed to allow integration of voice, data and video networks.

While the first product in the line, the Q-155 XTRA, won’t be available until next June, Premisys is confident enough in its new foray to be touting the products now.

The company’s new product line provides a peek into the future of telecom networks, said Joseph Lias, business development vice president for Premisys.

“If you look at the technology [service providers] are deploying today, it’s discrete technology” to handle different transmission fabrics, Lias said. “The unique thing that Premisys is bringing to the table is, if you look at new services, carriers are focusing on deploying new technology for deploying new services.”

The Q series’ two key features are its Sonet capabilities and its flexibility, Lias said. The new products are aimed primarily at the access network that, although mostly copper-based now, is migrating to fiber. And since carriers don’t really know what their mix of services will be, the platform is designed to be scalable to meet carriers’ needs.

“What this product is designed to do is expand the network to data,” Lias said. “It’s a network services platform that you can justify on today’s services, but the platform is in place for expansion.”

Premisys may not be ahead of the curve. Equipment makers have for the last couple of years focused on developing network elements that are more flexible, said Mike Smith, senior analyst at Probe Research, Cedar Knolls, N.J.

“What has happened is that equipment makers have realized the need to support a variety of technologies,” he said.

And the players in the field range from startups trying to capitalize on a new facet of the industry to heavy-weights that already have established themselves with the telcos through older technologies. But Premisys has approached the new market correctly, according to Ladan Mestchian, data communications analyst at The Yankee Group, Boston.

“They’re targeting a different layer of the network” than in the past, she said. “What they’ve done is leveraged the products they already have, and licensed the fiber technology from Positron.”

Licensing the fiber technology, rather than developing it in-house, was “the right thing” for Premisys to do, Mestchian said, since its strength lies in the Q series’ other core technologies.

Lias called the Premisys/Positron alliance “the deal of the century” for the capabilities it provides Premisys at comparatively low cost.

But while Premisys may have done a good job of developing the product thus far, Smith pointed out that a good product still may be a tough sell. “When you talk about providing these products and doing business with telcos, you need not only products but relationships with the telcos,” Smith said.

That may not be such a problem for Premisys, despite the fact that it is known more for central processing equipment products.

Premisys’ IMACS products have already given it a foot in the door with established carriers, Mestchian said.

“They don’t have to sell to a new set of customers,” she said.

And the market most likely to produce the most demand for products such as the Q series is competitive access providers and interexchange carriers building new infrastructure, rather than carriers that have large embedded technological bases.

But Lias said Premisys has received interest from Bell companies, and he expects to succeed in gradually selling the Q series into their networks as well.

“They’re starting to wrestle with new platforms,” he said, referring to the booming demand for new services. “The actual market is driving what the infrastructure should look like.”

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