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Bell Labs grapples with VoIP, open-source

By John Ribeiro
January 5, 2005 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - Voice-over-IP (VoIP) and open-source technology hold great promise for cost savings, but they also threaten traditional ways of doing business. Rather than shy away from the challenges that these disruptive technologies represent, Bell Labs, the research and development arm of Lucent Technologies Inc. in Murray Hill, N.J., is attempting to bring them into the mainstream.

The R&D unit is working on methodologies and processes required to use open-source components without compromising on carrier-grade capability so it can dramatically reduce the cost of developing telecommunications systems, according to Jeffrey Jaffe, president of research and advanced technologies at Bell Labs.

During a recent visit to Bangalore, India, where Bell Labs opened a research center in December, Jaffe spoke to the IDG News Service on some of the technologies his unit is working on, the lab's research strategy, its distributed model for R&D spanning four countries and other issues. Below is an edited version of the interview.

What are the potentially disruptive technologies that Bell Labs is working on? One of the areas that we are very focused on is what I call carrier-grade voice over IP. I am actually concerned that as the world moves there, some of the traditional things that we expect in our public switched networks, such as quality, reliability, performance and security, need to be preserved.

We have a collection of projects that basically have the intent to give you the best of the IP world but also the traditional carrier grade that you have in the telephony world, and that merger is I think absolutely disruptive, and will provide tremendous value to the future. Some of that work is going to be done in the Bell Labs research center in Bangalore, because a piece of that work is building operational support systems for the IP world. If you look at how the IP world developed, it was a little bit chaotic. The kind of operational support, network management, monitoring, performance understanding, fault detection -- all that you have in the telephony network -- never came to the IP network. So the fundamental topic of research is to put all those things into the IP network, to make it carrier grade.

What else is cooking in the labs? Another thing that I think is very interesting and very important is not in the products that we develop, but in the methodology that we develop the products. Open-source is very prevalent in the desktop [and] Web servers, but for telecommunications systems, because of the carrier-grade requirement, open-source classically has been less important. We are

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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