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Soft Switch Architecture
T Swati PRN# 10030241089 DIV-B
Introduction A soft switch is a central device in a telecommunications network which connects telephone calls from one phone line to another. calls per second rate. A softswitch is typically used to control connections at the junction point between circuit-switched and packet-switched networks. 1. 2. Class 4 softswitches and Class 5 softswitches. the Media Gateway may be connected to several access devices. It may have interfaces to connect to traditional PSTN networks. call services and the like. Towards the end users from the switch. Term soft switch technically refers to any such device. A call agent may control several different media gateways in geographically dispersed areas via a TCP/IP link. types of authorization. it is more conventionally applied to a device that handles IP-to-IP phone (A VoIP phone uses voice over IP (VoIP) technologies allowing telephone calls to be made over an IP network such as the Internet instead of the ordinary PSTN system) calls. The call agent will instruct the media gateway to connect media streams between these interfaces to connect the call . The main function of the class 4 softswitch is the routing of large volumes of long distance VoIP calls. signaling.all transparently to the end-users. These softswitches are both for local and long distance telephony services. a Skype-to-Skype phone call is entirely IP (internet) based. modern technology has led to a preference for decomposing this device into a Call Agent and a Media Gateway. number of concurrent calls. call routing. At a practical level. A single device containing both the switching logic and the switching fabric can be used for this purpose. The most important characteristics of class 4 softswitch are protocol support and conversion. Class 5 softswitches are intended for work with end-users. call center services. The Media Gateway connects different types of digital media stream together to create an end-to-end path for the media (voice and data) in the call. such as DS1 or DS3 ports (E1 or STM1 in the case of non-US networks). however. Softswitches used for transit VoIP traffic between carriers are usually called class 4 softswitches. It may also have interfaces to connect to ATM and IP networks. VoIP Softswitches are subdivided into two classes. Class 5 softswitches are characterized by additional services for end-users and corporate clients such as IP PBX features. and other features similar to other Class 5 telephone switches. transcoding. The Call Agent takes care of functions such as billing. calling card platform. supplying the functional logic to accomplish these telephony meta-tasks. and so uses a softswitch somewhere in the middle connecting the calling party with the called party. 2 . and the most modern systems will have Ethernet interfaces to connect VoIP calls. entirely by means of software running on a general-purpose computer system. These access devices can range from small Analog Telephone Adaptors (ATA) which provide just one RJ11 telephone jack to an Integrated Access Device (IAD) or PBX(private branch exchange) which may provide several hundred telephone connections. typically via the internet. average time of one call routing.
Abstract view of Architecture The key architectural consideration should include: · Interoperability with Telecom equipment and carriers ·Services and protocols integration · Bandwidth and external connectivity required · Sizing requirements · Equipment required · Network operations interface(s) required · Operations management requirements · Scale as you grow criteria for services and volume · Service availability requirements 3 .Architectural Considerations: Fig 1.
Fig 2. There are four distinct functional planes employed by the soft switch to describe the functioning of an end-to-end VoIP network: · Transport · Call Control & Signaling · Service & Application · Management 4 . Functional Planes The architecture of the softswitch can be seen to be divided into the following software planes. They represent the separation between the functional entities in a Voice over IP (VoIP) network. Architecture of softswitch organization.
carries out call control based in signaling messages received. Media Gateways (media conversion between different transport networks and/or different media). Interworking Domain This domain comprises of: The devices those are primarily responsible for the transformation of signaling or media received from external networks into a form that can be sent among the various entities in the VoIP network and vice versa. Call Control & Signaling Plane The Call Control & Signaling Plane is like the centralized arbitrator exercising control over the major elements of the VoIP network. and Interworking Gateways (signaling Interworking on the same transport layer but with different protocols). Summarizing it controls what essentially is switch has to do for setting up and releasing a call. This plane to the external world is like an access form where they can enter to use the services of call control. ensures digit translation and routing based on directory numbers. This is the heart of the system and performs the basic call processing and signaling. Devices that provide Quality of Service (QoS) mechanisms and policies for the transport also belong to this domain. Now the transport mechanism used could be based on any technology conforming to the standards e. The transport plane gets sub-divided broadly into three domains: · IP Transport Domain · Interworking Domain · Non-IP Access Domain. especially in the Transport Plane. Non-IP Access Domain The Non-IP Access Domain applies primarily to Non-IP terminals and wireless radio networks that access the VoIP network. IP Transport Domain The IP Transport Domain comprises of The transport backbone and routing/switching fabric Devices like routers and switches domain. maintains trigger detection points to access the intelligent database. So often if we look at the implementations the Transport Plane devices and functions are controlled by functions in the Call Control & Signaling Plane. and Media Gateways for a GSM/3G mobile radio access network (RAN). Integrated Access Devices (IADs) for DSL networks. ISDN terminals. SS7 ANSI or ITU.Transport Plane The basic functionality served by the transport plane is to handle and transport call signaling. call and media setup messages across the VOIP network. controls components in Transport Plane. It consists of devices like Signaling Gateways (signaling transport conversion between different transport layers). When call processing is mentioned and signaling it essentially means handles the subscriber requests for setting up and tearing down the voice circuit. Consists of Access Gateways or Residential Gateways for non-IP terminals or phones. keeps the finite state necessary for maintaining the call context etc.g. 5 . Cable Modem/Multimedia Terminal Adaptors (MTAs) for HFC networks.
The Call Control & Signaling Plane consists of Devices like the Media Gateway Controller (a.). video data will also need to be supported. Management Plane The Management Plane is responsible for providing functions such as subscriber and service provisioning. tone processing etc. 2. It is the responsibility of the Signaling Gateway to perform call set-up and teardown and media gateway basically controls and coordinates the operations (Fig 1. There is a standardized implementation of SS7 signaling protocol both ANSI and ITUT which is managed by the gateway. but uses the Media Gateway and Signaling Gateway to perform the job. There are many types of protocol media managers that need to be controlled those that access the softswitch through Transport plane. It also supports legacy telephony (PSTN) interfaces and protocols such as CAS and ISDN.a. The Signaling Gateway serves as the gateway between the SS7 Signaling network and the nodes managed by the Softswitch in the IP network. SNMP) or proprietary protocols and APIs. An example could be sending data related to call set up to signaling media manager and receiving finite state messages in response. MAJOR COMPONENTS Major Components of a Softswitch: A Softswitch can consist of one or more of these components. it interfaces to the OSS and BSS systems. decoding and compression are also performed by the Media Gateway. Sometimes the Call Agent by itself is referred as a Softswitch. In the future. This plane caters to the on the fly needs of the switch in expansion and modification of networks and entities. The Service & Application Plane consists of devices like Application Servers and Feature Servers. The Gateway Controller holds the call processing rules. A Signaling Gateway requires physical connectivity to the SS7 network and must be aware of the required protocol suites. In the current model. That is to say it forms the operation and maintenance zone. Service & Application Plane The Service & Application Plane provides the controls the logic and execution of feature servers and other applications like intelligent networks which are mean to provide various services to the subscriber. This component communicates within other parts of the Softswitch and also the external networks using different protocols. In addition. Gatekeepers and LDAP servers. It can interact with any or all of the other three planes through industry standard (e. 6 . Often this unit is referred as Call Agent or Media Gateway Controller interchangeably. They achieve this by communication with devices in the Call Control & Signaling Plane. The gateway controller here is like an arbitrator for the signaling interface and the corresponding stack utilizing its service. The Media Gateway handles the voice media data payload (the digitized samples of speech during conversation). These functions can reside in one system or span across several systems. that perform functions like conferencing. The Service & Application Plane can also perform the control of specialized bearer components. the Media Gateway must support connectivity to a TDM bus carrying voice media data to the Telco switch side. The services of the stack are given to external world via the gateway which takes care of API formation and retrieval for incoming and outgoing messages and presenting the extracted data to the external world which may not need to worry of the stack PI 3. such as Media Servers. The Gateway Controller is one of the key functional units of the Softswitch. operational support.g. billing and other network management tasks. Call Agent or Call Controller).k. The devices in this plane control the flow of a call based on the service execution logic. The functional entities are the logical entities of a VoIP network. 1. IVR. Applicable voice data encoding.
4. If IVR functionality is needed (eg: to prompt voice responses).g. 5. to enrich the Softswitch with media capabilities. If required. multi-party conferencing. A Media Server when applicable would also serve video Media. etc.: Gatekeeper Fig 3. E.g. those tasks would be performed by the Media Server. The Feature Server provides all the revenue generating features and services such as billing. The Feature Server uses the resources and related services located on other components of the Softswitch. for Call Control 7 . The Media Server performs peripheral functions. It may also support certain services to meet certain implementation necessity e. it supports digital signal processing (DSP) resources.
248/Megaco and Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). This gives network designers the flexibility to choose best-of-breed components from multiple vendors for their media hardware and software needs.323. H. open standards-based network architecture. softswitches play a critical role in enabling the design of a common packet network for converged voice and data services. The interface between the softswitch and different types of media hardware is provided by open protocols. Typically. fully distributed.Fig 4 As Feature Server Features of soft switch Highly Flexible Architecture A soft-switch-based system provides network design engineers with highly flexible. Furthermore. while the softswitch provides centralized call control and services. The fully distributed architecture allows network topologies with media devices located throughout the network. A well-architected softswitch separates call-control intelligence and services software from media hardware with open. The interfaces between the softswitch and application servers are also open and standards-based. Such a network can be quickly scaled without the need to deploy expensive circuit switches in each new market. standards-based interfaces between the different layers. and use protocols such as SIP and H. while services intelligence is distributed among the softswitch and application servers that reside at an upper layer. such as Media Gateway Control Protocol (MGCP). and tools like Extensible Markup Language (XML) and Java in advanced intelligent networks. Qualities Imparted are: · Loose Coupling · Better Extensibility · Higher Changeability · Ability to Interoperate with COTS 8 . by enabling voice transport and services over packet-switched networks while seamlessly inter-working with the public-switched telephone network (PSTN). call-control and signaling intelligence resides within the softswitch.
Qualities imparted: y Reliability y Modularity y High Availability y Maintainability 9 . more ports or additional media gateways can be added. Rapid deployment of converged services will be made possible by open softswitch architecture. A softswitch utilizing an open architecture provides best-of breed vendor selection. The switch is decomposed into three layers i. The fixes do not have any global significance and maintenance becomes easier. Faults are easy to locate. and provide cost-effectiveness. To reduce operational training and back office complexity. The softswitch gives the service provider the freedom and flexibility to add ports where it needs to by simply adding to an existing media gateway or by rapidly bringing a new media gateway online. As business grows. Qualities imparted: · Ease of creation · Ease of Maintenance · Localization of changes · Layered Architecture · Simplified Design Fault-tolerant architecture The softswitch architecture is fully modular and has the ability to distribute modules in the network any way the service provider wants. Third party software companies will revolutionize data and voice communications. including billing. The softswitch will be the strategic component in service providers' networks because it has the potential to function as the network operating system of the new public network. In addition to the quick turn-up time. By using standards-based protocols and open APIs such as SIP. service providers can also penetrate new markets without the multi-million dollar class switch investment. Service providers are able to select best-of-breed products that allow them to harness innovation regardless of vendor. and their impact is localized. Qualities Imparted: · Changeability · Extensibility · Interoperability · Portability Distributed architecture The next-generation architecture requires a transition from a mainframe-type telephony system to a distributed system. The call control elements can be collocated with the media gateways or distributed across service providers' backbones. service providers will be able to harness converged services from third party vendors within a fraction of the time and cost compared with today's PSTN.· Better Scalability Open architecture The most important characteristic of the next-generation network is an open architecture. which will drive modular systems.e. layered architecture. controlling media gateways across an entire region. It is a fully distributed. XML or even H.323. Service providers can add a media gateway with a low port count to a new market. a platform for third party development of new services and service provider empowerment. The softswitch controls the media gateway via a media gateway protocol such as the Media Gateway Control Protocol (MGCP). The softswitch is the engine powering the next generation network. highly scalable and fault-tolerant architecture. JAIN. functionality can be located remotely. controlling edge devices such as media gateways and broadband Integrated Access Devices (IADs) and interfacing to third party feature servers and back office systems.
).iec. (n.cisco. Most Softswitch services are usually related to revenue. call waiting. 2011. call transfer. In the telephone industry.d. from sipcenter: http://www..cisco. Retrieved 10 11. 2011.pdf iec.bitpipe.d.com: www.com Gateways+Softswitches.d.mobilein. from www. three-way and multi-party conferencing. The advent of Internet usage over telephone system has resulted in new services such as click-to-dial and Internet call waiting. There are many variations in call plans. (n. This allows the business to maximize its return on investment in Softswitch technologies. These types of services are best supported by the Softswitch approach. 2011. 2011.). call hold. Retrieved 11 12. Retrieved 12 11. It is important to understand the business focus of the switching applications in order to select the most appropriate suite of services for the environment. caller ID. Several companies currently offer these features. call forwarding.com/application/pdf/en/us/guest/products/ps2081/c1650/ccmigration_09186a0080091b 58.).). from www.d.iec.org mobilein.org 10 .nsf/html/Gateways+Softswitches http://www. (n. (n. from mobilein: www. applicable rates and the type of connection circuits. in which billing becomes an important function. etc. The flexibility of Softswitch technology allows a provider to support a wide variety of billing options.org: www. there are many services that can be given but require better switching facilities. Softswitches can support traditional features offered to telephone systems customers such as consultation hold. and business arrangements with external service providers. conferencing. Retrieved 12 10.com/sip. as described in the local telephone directory.bitpipe. Other services that can be given by the Softswitch are: · Emergency calling (911) · Toll-free 800 calls · Calling cards and pre-paid calling cards · Virtual call center · IP Centrex Bibliography bitpipe.com. Retrieved 12 10. as well as the Business Support System (BSS) which also performs the actual billing. group plans.sipcenter. (n.). 2011.d.org. The integration of the telephone network with wireless networks and cable networks presents major opportunities to offer value-add services. from cisco: http://www.USAGE OF A SOFTSWITCH Softswitches can support a wide variety of services. It is required to work with the existing Operations Support System (OSS) that handle many types of operational details. Many popular enhanced services include call forwarding.
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