The end-of-life process began in November 2015 (when these products and their line cards stopped being available for purchase), and you need to be thinking about the next stage of your network evolution before it becomes urgent.
- migrate to Metaswitch’s ATCA hardware platform
- remove all TDM from your network and migrate to a virtualized deployment
- consolidate switches either within your network or with another local provider. (You can read more about switch consolidation here.)
Full transcription of the video
Hi… This is Andrew Ward from awardconsulting.com and today I want to talk at a high level about what to do if you have Metaswitch compact PCI hardware – so that’s a 2510 or a 3510 chassis and the CH9020/CH9024 call feature servers.
These products are currently in their end of life process and you have some decisions to make about how to handle that. So from a dates point of view, the compact PCI hardware was first sold in 2004 and the end of sale date was November 2015. So it had a good long run but now it’s a couple of years past that end of sale date.
So what that means for you today is that if you have a Metaswitch hardware warranty service, you can still get replacements and that will continue to be true until 2023 – so you have a good long window to deal with that. But in the meantime, you have this concern that you can’t get any spares, that new Metaswitch software releases will not be available on your hardware and so you will need to be thinking about how to handle the situation.
So as you plan for the future, you have a couple of options:
The first is to replace the hardware – it sounds simple enough. Metaswitch have released an ATCA media gateway that has been available since 2012 so again, that’s specialist hardware, it has connections for DS3s and you can use it to connect to the PSTN over SS7, with ISUP trunks, MF trunks, PRIs in your network and all of that. That’s great and the ATCA media gateway is a good product and it works well and it has a higher capacity than the old one and it comes in both a 2 slot version which is good for a small to medium size carriers and also a 14 slot chassis which has much more scale.
The problem is that while this is newer, fundamentally it’s still a hardware platform – it’s still specialized hardware and eventually it will also go end-of-life. You may buy yourself an extra 5 or 10 years but ultimately you are going to be in the same boat. So a key question to ask yourself is: do you want to spend the money it takes to replace your media gateway hardware, only to have to do it again somewhere down the line.
So your other option is to instead, try to become a VOIP only provider – i.e. try to remove the need to have TDM connectivity in your network. If you are able to do that, then that’s pretty powerful because the reason you need specialist telecoms hardware is because you have that physical connectivity. Once you become an IP only provider, then you no longer need specialist hardware. So you are not relying on this constant hardware upgrade cycle.
But how to do actually do that? It’s not as simple as it sounds – if you can really become pure IP, then that means you need to remove SS7, remove ISUP trunks, remove any MF trunks you may still have – all of that on the network side – and then on the subscriber side, you need to get rid of any TDM subscribers, so maybe you’ve got some GR-303 connectivity still, maybe you have some PRIs to PBXs and you would need to remove all those connections.
On the subscriber side, that’s not that hard. You can fairly easily replace your TDM subscribers with VOIP connections, at least from the switch, even if you have TDM still at the customer premises.
On the network side, it’s not so easy. Many people will set up SIP trunks for you, but removing SS7 connections entirely from your switch is more of a challenge – primarily because a lot of the LECs, the RBOCS, will only allow CLECs and ILECs to connect to them over SS7. So, there’s more of a challenge there. It is actually becoming possible to do this – it’s not easy but it is a strategy that you can take and I’m actually planning to write more about that in the fairly near future. Read that article here.
There is also another way to do this which does not require entirely removing TDM from your network. You could, depending on your situation, potentially consolidate your equipment. So if you have multiple media gateways in your own network, then you could designate one of them as your TDM media gateway and maybe that one is on ATCA and everyone else uses TDM in that location and the rest of your connectivity is all VOIP so you could gradually consolidate all your TDM activities in one place.
The other option, if you are a small carrier, maybe you could collaborate with another local carrier and have them run your switch for you, and you still manage your subscribers and maybe the subscriber devices (IADs and so on) but another carrier has the TDM switch. So, there’s an article I wrote a few months ago on switch consolidation which talks about some of the challenges involved there but that’s definitely another option you could take – if you are a small rural carrier and there are other carriers around that you could cooperate with in that way.
Of course, having moved to a pure VOIP network, you still need software to run and this is why Metaswitch has been pushing so hard to encourage everyone to virtualize their deployments. So you’ve read a lot about NFV and about virtualized software so if you are able to become all IP, that then allows to you take advantage of that direction. So that means you can then run your CFS, run your EAS, all of your call services all in the cloud – and maybe that’s your own cloud, your own virtualized environment with your own virtual machines, or maybe it’s the public cloud – but then you can create a deployment that’s only software. Then you never have to worry about hardware upgrade cycles again, you don’t have to worry about hardware failures – you just have everything running on virtual machines and the world is a better place – at least that’s the vision.
So hopefully, that’s given you some things to think about. You got a few years, hopefully, to figure this all out but it is an important question and it’s going to take some time whichever path you go. It’ll take some time to move from where you are not to where you are trying to get to. So, hopefully this has given you some food for thought and of course, feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or want to talk further. Thanks so much.