Iwatsu Voice Networks, with U.S. corporate headquarters in Irving, Texas, is a subsidiary of the Japanese company Iwatsu Electric, a 70-year-old firm with a rich history in electronics and telecommunications. Iwatsu has three major lines of business: digital reprographic systems, including quick print and commercial printing systems; electronic test and measurement equipment, including oscilloscopes, network emulators, and VoIP test systems; and business communication systems, including VoIP networks, office communication systems, surveillance systems, and wireless devices.
Iwatsu Electric opened an office in the United States in 1970, and since that time, has entered into a number of strategic relationships with U.S. firms, including Lucent Technologies, NetSpeak, and Sylantro Systems. The firm keeps a keen eye on their product reliability, boasting one of the best MTBF (mean time between failure) rates in the industry, and claims an out-of-the-box failure rate of 0.0007 percent for their communication products. Five manufacturing and engineering locations serve Iwatsu customers worldwide, along with a network of over 250 authorized distributors throughout the United States.
Within the telecommunications line of business, Iwatsu was developed an interesting architecture that they have named QuadFusion, which is targeted at small to medium-size businesses that require support for both legacy and emerging communications technologies.
QuadFusion supports the four key protocols that dominate todays telecommunications landscape: the legacy Time Division Multiplexing (TDM), which has benefited from several decades of development and refinement; the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) from the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), H.323, developed by the International Telecommunications Union Telecommunications Standard Sector (ITU-T), and VoIP architectures designed to be run over a managed IP network.
Iwatsus design objective was to provide a single, turnkey solution that integrated all these standards into a single, autonomous system. This goal is not without its challenges, however, as these four protocols have some very different characteristics. For example, SIP is a stateless, client-server protocol that establishes communication on a case-by-case basis, supporting voice, video, and data. In contrast, H.323 was designed for real-time voice and video, but establishes its connections in a fashion similar to the telephone network, but with more complexity than the processes employed with SIP.
Iwatsus Enterprise Communications Server (ECS) is the core product supporting the QuadFusion architecture. It provides small to medium-size businesses with an advanced voice communication system that can be run over the existing data communications infrastructure, or as a stand-alone system, or as a combination of both.
In effect, the ECS operates as a multimedia protocol gateway, designed to capitalize on the benefits of the four technologies that it supports. Call control applications run in the core of the ECS, thus making each of the four separate supported protocols as efficient as the next. This allows the network applications to be configured based upon the most efficient technology, without radical disruptions (forklift upgrades) or a migration to a new technology before the economics agree. For example, customers with a single location that only require basic voice service could begin with the TDM functions of the ECS. As the business grows, they could later migrate to SIP functionality for a branch office, and implement H.323 videoconferencing between the two locations.
The ECS can support from 10 to 1024 ports, which may include TDM hardware stations, IP stations, and portable (wireless) stations. It also supports a number of voice applications, including: remote site connectivity, contact centers and automatic call director (ACD), in-building wireless roaming, plus text-to-speech and automatic speech recognition for unified communications. The system also includes network fail-over capabilities, which can route calls via the PSTN if the private IP network fails, and a browser-based system administration console to reduce ongoing maintenance costs.
Further details on the Iwatsu Voice Networks architecture and products can be found at www.iwatsu.com. Our next tutorial will continue our examination of vendors architectures.
Copyright Acknowledgement: © 2006 DigiNet ® Corporation, All Rights Reserved
Mark A. Miller, P.E. is President of DigiNet ® Corporation, a Denver-based consulting engineering firm. He is the author of many books on networking technologies, including Voice over IP Technologies, and Internet Technologies Handbook, both published by John Wiley & Sons.