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AppTrigger launches first Application Session Controller

A Dallas software company today announced a new network element, designed to help service providers offer existing and new services over multiple access networks, in advance of IP Multimedia Subsystems (IMS) deployment.

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AppTrigger, a five-year-old venture-backed company that has developed software for service providers, applications developers and service delivery platforms, is now bringing its Application Session Controller to market. The ASC is a software based solution that sits between the network and the applications and provides a layer of abstraction, enabling one application to deliver a similar user experience to multiple types of access networks.

“Fundamentally, the challenge is when you look at the multitude of networks that a service provider would have, they are using a ton of networks using different protocols and interfaces,” said Patrick Fitzgerald, vice president of marketing for AppTrigger. That includes multiple versions of newer protocols like Session Initiation Protocol and literally hundreds of Signaling System 7 variants, he said. “The challenge to doing cross-network converged applications is enormous.”

As a result, service providers have historically developed and optimized each application for one form of access – wireline, wireless or data – and deployed these in silos, he said. IMS is supposed to address this and enable applications and services to be built quickly using re-usable functions and network elements, but it won’t be fully deployed for some time, Fitzgerald said.

“The market is coming together and the networks are coming together,” he said. “End users wants transparent experience. The long-term answer is going to be IMS. The issue becomes – is there incremental revenue for it, and how quickly can it happen? The short-term solution has become a very big problem.”

The ASC provides that near-term solution, he said. On the network-facing side, it has all the network interfaces, including SIP and SS7 variants and interfaces to Class 4/5 switches, while on the application-facing side, it has a series of open Application Programming Interfaces. The system provides signaling, media conversion, media server capabilities, protocol conversion and call control/switching.

The ASC will provide media and signaling system functions to convert to and from bearer traffic formats and provide basic functions such as detecting and generating DTMF tones, playing and recording announcements and conferencing. It also has a call control subsystem that includes a call-model in which applications can intervene to enable service delivery. The two function together to provide an abstracted view of the network that enables applications to function, regardless of the underlying network.

The ASC embeds network protocols into each application solution, so that the application are optimized for the appropriate networks.

The system is designed to evolve to stay up with network changes, Fitzgerald said, including the deployment of IMS.

“It is a software-based solution that keeps up with the network,” he said. “Our solution can support multiple applications. It provides investment protection – as IMS networks get built out the ASC has distinct purpose to bridge the IN legacy apps into the new IMS networks.”

AppTrigger believes its system can enable service providers to more rapidly develop and roll-out converged applications, ahead of IMS.

Fitzgerald acknowledges the difficulties of a small company addressing the technology challenges of Tier 1 service providers, who are the target market for his firm. Rather than directly address companies such as AT&T and Verizon, AppTrigger initially is partnering with application companies such as Intervoice.

The company was founded by three industry veterans -- Mark Crutcher, formerly of Tacqa Systems, Craig Miller, formerly of DSC Communications and Randy Waters, who’s now at Comverse.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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