After orbiting the cable industry for several years, Internet protocol detail record (IPDR) is cycling into a deployment phase.

"The big thing over the last year is that several MSOs are rolling out IPDR nationwide for their DOCSIS networks," said Randy Fuller, Camiant vice president, business development. "It’s going into production."

According to the timeline published by the TM Forum, which assumed management of IPDR in May 2007, the protocol first entered the DOCSIS 1.1 operations support system interface (OSSI) by way of an engineering change request (ECR) in September 2004 and was included in subsequent DOCSIS certification waves, becoming part of DOCSIS 2.0 and DOCSIS 3.0 along the way.

CableLabs also adopted IPDR, specifically its streaming protocol (SP) for OCAP 1.1 in early 2007. (For more, click here.)

IPDR engine

One recent heads up that IPDR was on the move came in an article on "Service Management with IPDR" by Cox Senior DOCSIS Engineer Jeff Finkelstein and Applied Broadband Principal Jason Schnitzer and published in the January issue of CT. (For more, click here.)

Schnitzer pushed the ball forward by announcing yesterday that his research and development consultancy had productized an IPDR stack optimized for cable operators.

"It’s a shim, almost, inserted just above the network layer," Schnitzer said of his product, dubbed the Universal IPDR Engine. (For more, click here.)

Schnitzer said IPDR is positioned between deep packet inspection (DPI) and simple network management protocol (SNMP), the former having "drawn a number of operators into fairly serious (regulatory) discussions" and the latter "lack(ing) horsepower to scale." He described IPDR as "a protocol-agnostic and non-application-layer counter on a per-sub and per-cable service basis."

The arrival of IPDR has its fans. "We’re thrilled that IPDR is going into production and is going to become the de facto (way that) operators keep track of what’s going on in the network," said Fuller.

Fuller said the complementary role of Camiant’s technology in an IPDR food chain would be to "handle the policy requests."

Other network elements feeding on IPDR include mediation and transactional engines. "For us, it’s just another piece of data," said Chris Hoover, Openet director of product management. "We’d need to correlate and normalize (IPDR data), but it has real valuable potential because of its meaning within a cable network."

Cable is far from IPDR’s only home. The protocol is also featured in reference models managed by the Third Generation Partnership Project, the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions and ITU-T next generation network (NGN).

Earlier milestones in its life include the initial call in 1999 by Billing World magazine for a way to facilitate the exchange of usage and service metrics between various network and hosted elements and the harmonization of IPDR with Common Reliable Accounting for Network Elements (CRANE) in January 2004.

– Jonathan Tombes

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