Start-up ISPSoft Inc. is introducing provisioning software that handles the configuration of multiple vendors' equipment employed in a single IP service.
ISPSoft's Universal Provisioning Switch (UPX) software is designed to let enterprise or carrier network administrators designate a service to be delivered to an end user and sit back while the software provisions the devices involved. Usually network administrators have to employ several network management platforms to carry out this process device by device.
Companies could use the UPX equipment to automate corporate network services offered to employees. New hires could be issued a standard package of services quickly with UPX. And as new services are developed or employees need access to additional existing services, it could speed deployment, ISPSoft says. These steps could be centrally provisioned by UPX by one person, the company says.
Multivendor provisioning is gaining more attention as makers of new hardware technologies turn to other vendors to integrate their provisioning software in a single package. For instance, another start-up, Emperative, is doing this for DSL and optical networks.
"Rapid provisioning across multivendor platforms has been an obstacle to customized services," says Tere' Bracco, an analyst with Current Analysis Inc. "When enterprises want a service, they want it now."
Without having to write these provisioning platforms themselves, equipment can be made more manageable more quickly than it could if each company or service provider had to build these platforms from the ground up.
ISPSoft's backers include Lucent Technologies Inc.'s venture capital arm. Lucent and ISPSoft have been working for five months writing UPX interfaces for Lucent VPN and firewall products.
In addition to VPNs and firewalls, the list of services UPX could provision includes authentication, shared and dedicated hosting, and e-mail applications, as well as customer enterprise applications, ISPSoft says.
The company claims that AT&T Corp. and British Telecommunications PLC have invited ISPSoft to bid on a contract to provide software that will provision VPN services.
UPX requires that individual software agents be written for it to provision gear made by particular vendors. If a service provider needs to include equipment that UPX does not support, agents for that gear can be written within three months, ISPSoft says. The company also claims compatibility with Cisco Systems Inc., Nortel Networks Corp. and Interlink Electronics Inc. products, with more in development.
Software drivers can also be written to talk to pre-existing provisioning platforms that support certain services.
ISPSoft software running on a Sun Microsystems Inc. or Red Hat Inc. Linux platform taps a service description database and sends out commands to provision the devices employed in delivering the service ordered.
UPX is available now and costs US$50,000 to $200,000, depending on the number of different agents required.