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December 12, 2008

Reflections on 2008, A Look Ahead With Acme Packet

By Greg Galitzine, Group Editorial Director


Acme Packet has had a good year. The Burlington, MA-based provider of session border controllers and multiservice security gateways has seen its revenue grow as a result of an ever expanding customer base. Seamus Hourihan (News - Alert) is VP of marketing and product development at Acme Packet. Hourihan, who is hailed as the person who first coined the term “session border control,” is a frequent speaker on the trade show circuit and has contributed his expertise to many articles published in TMC’s (News - Alert) various publications.

 
Hourihan was kind enough to answer a series of questions for TMCnet.
 
 
GG: When you look back on 2008, was it a good year for your company?
SH: Yes, absolutely. Despite the difficult economic conditions, Acme Packet has been able to continue its revenue and customer growth.  By the end of 2008, we will have reached a number of key milestones:
 
  • Over 600 customers in over 85 countries, including 100 new in 2008;
  • Over 160 tier one service provider customers including 29 of the top 30 and 84 of the top 100;
  • 100 IMS projects;
  • Nearly 7,000 systems installed;
  • Nearly 55 million sessions licensed;
  • Established our presence in key emerging markets for session border control  - enterprises, contact centers  and wireless access networks
 
GG: What was your firm’s biggest achievement last year?
SH: All the numbers above are very significant achievements. In addition, Acme Packet greatly expanded its portfolio in 2008 with delivery of three important new products:
 
Multiservice Security Gateway (News - Alert) (MSG) — the MSG enables fixed-mobile substitution (FMS) and fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) by securing the delivery of voice and data services over untrusted Internet and WiFi networks to femtocells and dual-mode endpoints.
 
Open Session Routing (OSR) architecture, product and partners — features Acme Packet’s Net-Net Session Route Proxy (SRP), working in conjunction with best-of breed routing database products and services from Acme Packet OSR ecosystem members. This solution reduces the cost and complexity inherent in routing large numbers of SIP-based voice, video, instant messaging and multimedia sessions within and between service provider mobile, fixed-line and transit networks.
 
Net-Net 4500 — increases Acme Packet's 4000 series performance and capacity by 100% or more in SBC, MSG and SRP product configurations.
 
GG: What can we expect to see from your company for the next 12 months?
SH: In service provider markets, Acme Packet will support the evolution to IPv6-capable endpoints and support the delivery of new services and applications — interactive video, hosted unified communications (UC) and IMS IPTV (News - Alert). We will also stay at the forefront of enabling trusted, first-class service peering/interconnect relationships among providers regardless of business model — “bill and keep,” or settlement-based as envisioned by organizations like the GSMA (News - Alert) or i3 Forum.
 
In wireless access networks, we have had excellent early traction in fixed WiMAX, SIP services over 3G, femtocell and FMC applications and we expect to see even more opportunities as access moves to all-IP 4G LTE and mobile WiMAX.
 
Likewise, enterprises and contact centers are rapidly adopting SIP trunking and UC services that require SBCs, and we plan to continue to play a major role there.
 
GG: Do you think a new administration in Washington, D.C. will be good for the communications industry? If so, how? If not, why not?
SH: We are encouraged by the new administration’s interest in broadband adoption and a coordinated national technology strategy. These efforts would ultimately help to accelerate adoption of communications technology and be very good for the industry.
 
GG: In your view, please describe the future of the IP Communications industry?
SH: IP communications will replace TDM everywhere. The only question is — when? We are at the very early stages of this evolution. Its pace will be dictated by three things:
 
Reduction in costs for service providers and enterprises operating networks. TDM equipment discontinuation and increasing support costs are already driving enterprises and wireline service providers to IP communications. Wireless network cores are also moving fast to SIP. The wireless RANs are the last hold-out — but not for long with 4G! However, infrastructure complexity in some IMS and UC architectures will hold back the evolution unless it is addressed.
 
Creation of new services and applications that people will want to use. This continues to be challenging. Part of the problem is related to Metcalf’s law — “the value of IP communications is related to the number of people you can communicate with.” The only IP service that is truly universal and seamless is email. We have islands of IM and VoIP everywhere today with more and different (standards-based and proprietary) interactive video and UC islands on the horizon. In addition, there are new challenges with delivering trusted, high-quality services that must be addressed. For example, how will you trust your voice call gets delivered to your bank to make that wire transfer?
 
Payment for services and apps by subscribers, other content providers or advertisers. Someone will pay for new services and applications that people want to use. Prices will be low if the service creation and delivery costs are low.
 
GG: How do the current market conditions affect your potential customers? Do you think they will hold off on purchasing new solutions or do you think the economic conditions will spur them to make purchases that will allow them to be more competitive?
SH: Current economic conditions are forcing all businesses to focus on projects with the greatest ROI. In most cases, Acme Packet's SBCs are utilized in projects that are producing revenue and reducing costs today, so we see our customers continuing, and even accelerating, their SBC deployment plans. Some applications, like SIP trunking, can really produce compelling cost savings in the course of just a few months. For example, one Acme Packet customer is migrating its entire network from PRIs to SIP trunks, at a savings of $200,000 a month!
 
GG: What sets your company’s solutions apart from the competition?
SH: With more than six years of independently recognized product and market leadership, and an installed base today of more than 580 customers, Acme Packet offers the most comprehensive and mature SBC solution available.
 
Acme Packet Net-Net products offer exceptional border control function and feature richness, providing superior adaptability. They support multiple applications in service provider, enterprise and contact center networks — from VoIP trunking to hosted enterprise and residential services to fixed-mobile convergence. They satisfy critical security, service assurance and regulatory requirements in wireline, cable and wireless networks; and support multiple protocols — SIP, H.323, MGCP/NCS and H.248 — and multiple border points — interconnect, access and data center.
 
Finally, Acme Packet's Net-Net platform is the industry’s most interoperable SBC, with demonstrated interoperability with over 60 vendors, as well as solution, integration, and distribution partnerships with nearly all the major IP communications vendors.
 
GG: If you had to make one bold prediction for 2009, what would it be?
SH: Celtics, Bruins, Pats (2009 season, when Brady returns), and Red Sox all win championships
 

Greg Galitzine is editorial director for TMC’s IP Communications suite of products, including TMCnet.com. To read more of Greg’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Greg Galitzine


 
 
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