Dialogic Blog

The Changing Definition of the Diameter Signaling Controller and Diameter Routing Agent (DRA)

by Jim Machi

Sep 16, 2014 5:52:00 AM


Next week, I will be speaking at the Signaling Focus Day of LTE Asia. The event will obviously have Diameter overtones since Diameter is the signaling protocol for LTE networks, but LTE networks are not the only cellular networks. As LTE expands, interoperability and interworking with GSM and 3G networks will be critical, as will interworking with other mobile networks such as Wi-Fi.

Tackling all these signaling interworking issues has suddenly moved the realm of the Diameter signaling controller (DSC) from basic Diameter routing agent (DRA) to include the interworking function (IWF) — so much so that first- and even some second-generation DRAs don’t handle interworking well. Some might even say these DRAs are obsolete for the job at hand.

As such, DSCs that handle IWF are starting to be deployed next to the original DRAs, simply because the first-generation DRAs were designed to handle Diameter signaling storm concerns, not interworking. But interworking with other signaling protocols, including enterprise protocols, and adding services across these connected networks are proving crucial for ultimate LTE success. These updated DSCs need to handle new service use cases that include these interworked networks. Customization of these services across technologies will be key.

Coupled with the above is the emergence of NFV to the service provider equipment infrastructure scene. Dialogic has been on a journey toward NFV for some time, even before we heard the term. Our PowerMedia media server has been software-only since its inception more than a dozen years ago. NFV will also enter the DSC picture soon. DSCs will need to be software-based and will need to tie in with NFV as well as have the key interworking and customization abilities described above. And DSCs are poised to play a key role with NFV because of where they sit in the network. DSCs will need to be involved in network management and service orchestration, so NFV-enabled DSCs are required.

NFV and interworking are changing the very definition of what a DRA is. Come to my session during Signaling Focus Day if you are able to hear more.

Topics: Events, Signaling