April 09, 2001, 2:11 PM — NARUS MAY BE poised atop a pile of gold. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup is one of the first companies to ship a product that will allow ASPs (application service providers) to track and bill for on-demand, hosted applications and allow enterprises to monitor outsourcing QoS (quality of service).
Narus' IBI (Internet business infrastructure) platform, called Semantic Traffic Analysis, gathers detailed network and customer usage information from networks in real time. The software can probe individual data packets to determine what types of packets they are and how long it takes to transmit them.
This type of software can be used by ASPs to provide value-added services to customers, including business planning, operations support, fraud analysis, and billing applications. According to Boston-based The Yankee Group, the IBI market will grow from less than $1 billion in 2000 to more than $7 billion in 2004, with billing applications generating the largest share of revenue.
Narus is the only company now focusing exclusively on IBI, according to The Yankee Group; however, future players will include system integrators, billing software vendors, OSS (operational support system) vendors, and network monitoring and performance management vendors. After shipping its software for one year, Narus' customers include AT&T Broadband, Road Runner, Cable & Wireless, and Yipes.
Whereas Narus is focusing on IBI software, hardware vendors are also developing products to enhance service provider offerings, including application-aware networks from telecommunications suppliers. Nortel, for example, will build what one company executive called "smart pipes" into their routers and switches, enabling service providers to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
The Narus platform obtains data directly from the wire, preventing any network slowdowns or inefficiencies that collecting data from traditional devices such as server logs and routers can cause, said Ori Cohen, Narus founder and chairman. "You can only do that if you collect information at the application layer," he said.
The IBI software could also be used by enterprises with a centralized IT department to more accurately "charge back" services to individual departments in the company, Cohen said.
Narus is the only vendor to target the core of the network for measuring and collecting application and usage information, said Matthew Kovar, program manager at The Yankee Group.
"Everyone else is either putting devices at the carrier edge or [on] customer premises," Kovar said. Deploying devices this way means a higher administrative burden, he added.