Netrake to unwrap its session controller

Netrake Corp. next week will unveil gear designed to enable service providers to more easily deliver voice over IP services.

The two-year-old company's nCite IP session controller hardware and software keeps track of complex IP phone call sessions as they cross firewalls. The product can translate private IP phone addresses so calls can be completed between sites and between companies that may use overlapping IP addressing schemes.

NCite is being demonstrated at the Voice on the Net conference this week in Atlanta where it will enable calls through a Cisco firewall. The company will also show how the device can gather call records needed to bill customers.

Sending IP voice traffic through a firewall involves opening multiple ports for each call to accommodate whatever protocol is being used - session initiation protocol (SIP), H.323 or media gateway control protocol (MGCP). Many firewalls cannot handle opening and closing these ports dynamically as calls start and end, so controllers are needed to handle this, says Christin Flynn, director of communications network infrastructure for the Yankee Group.

In addition, most companies use private IP addresses for their IP phones that cannot be routed on public networks without translating these addresses to public ones. NCite handles firewall port management and network address translation to deal with these situations.

Flynn says that Netrake's hardware, which includes network processors of its own design, sets its gear apart from competitors in the potential to handle large numbers of phone calls. Netrake claims a single chassis can handle 50,000 simultaneous calls using a G.729 coder/decoder (codec). The number of calls varies depending on the codec used, the company says.

In addition, Netrake's software recognizes patterns in IP traffic flows and uses these patterns to quickly route packets rather than relying on more time-consuming deep packet inspection alone, Flynn says. Netrake claims its gear injects less than 5 microseconds of latency into a session. A phone call can tolerate up to 150 milliseconds of delay.

When carriers need to send IP calls between their networks and use different protocols, such as SIP and H.323, nCite can handle the protocol interworking. The gear also translates quality of service schemes between networks so a voice call gets preferential treatment as it crosses from one network to another, Netrake says.

Competitors include Acme Packet, Jasomi Networks, Kagoor Networks and NexTone Communications. The worldwide sales of session controllers this year will be just US$10.4 million, and is expected to grow to $624 million by 2007, the Yankee Group says.

NCite is a 14-slot chassis that uses six slots for management, control and power blades. The other eight are available for I/O cards that include a two-port gigabit Ethernet card that occupies four slots and a six-port fast Ethernet card that takes up one slot.

The equipment is in beta testing and will be available in January. Pricing will be set then.

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