IPsphere encircles converged networking

Encompassing existing work of Juniper's former Infranet Initiative Council, some say the IPsphere Forum could completely change the business language of converged networking.

Emerging from the dust of Juniper Networks Inc.'s Infranet Initiative Council (IIC), the new IPsphere Forum is

orbiting around converged IP infrastructure and, with the help of new members Cisco Systems Inc and Alcatel, developing a framework for improving Internet infrastructure convergence.

The goal of this new vendor and provider body, which first convened at Supercomm June 9, is to develop programs and processes through which carrier services can interoperate under other global networks while abiding by business, revenue settlement and service level agreement guidelines.

Companies represented in the forum include BT Group, France Telecom SA, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., Lucent Technologies, Red Zinc, Siemens AG, T-Com, Telenor ASA and Tellabs Inc.

IPsphere will be administered by a third-party standards body. According to Cisco Systems Inc. spokesman Wilson Craig, the International Telecommunication Union, Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute are currently under consideration.

Juniper originally developed the IIC in 2003 to solicit ideas for Internet infrastructure improvements and boil them down into proposals for standards groups. However, the IIC caught flack from critics who claimed it was merely the vendor's marketing program. That began the effort to transition the IIC to a standards-based, member-funded open forum.

Tony Fisch, spokesperson for IPsphere chair Kevin Dillon of Juniper Networks said Cisco and other vendors understood what the company was doing with the IIC, but Juniper was first to realize it would attract an even broader effort if the organization was independent.

"Our organization felt it [was] in the industry's best interest to reconstitute with a new name," Fisch said. "And, as planned from our inception, move our work to the secretariat of a standards organization."

Fisch said reconstituting helped Cisco, Alcatel and others to realize Juniper's sincerity in developing the next generation of the public infrastructure.

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Tom Nolle, IPsphere member and president of Voorhees, N.J.-based telecommunications consultancy CIMI Corp., said the IPsphere Forum's work could completely change the face of Internet services, everything from service creation, administration and interconnection across carrier boundaries.

"It's working on the business language of converged networking," Nolle said. "No other body has had that focus."

According to Fisch, those benefiting the most from IPsphere will be global business users, as well as consumers with next generation services and applications.

"Our focus includes assurance, security, quality of service and on-demand use," he added. "All elements that will be of great use to network administrators in saving time and money and growing profit and productivity."

Fisch said the new forum is focusing on models and architectures that will be showcased later this year.

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