PortaSwitch is a unified platform for telecommunication service providers, wholesale carriers, ISP, MVNO and NGN operators for unifying voice, messaging, and data traffic within a single converged network
PortaSwitch provides various prepaid, postpaid, retail and wholesale telecommunication services, including calling cards, Vonage- and Skype-like services, CLEC type services, MVNO & MVNE, ISP, WiMAX & WiFi and much more.
It includes 2 main components:
- PortaBilling, a business and operation support system (B/OSS) designed for telecommunication service providers to manage end-to-end telecom service networks
- PortaSIP is a clusterable and highly scalable SIP softswitch of class 4 and class 5 with media application that plays IVR (voice prompts). It offers a variety of both advanced class 5 features for hosted IPPBX or IP Centrex services as well as the majority of functionality normally attributed to session border controllers (SBC)
How does it work?
The key difference between PortaSwitch and more traditional "switch" products is that PortaSwitch offers much more. It includes the B/OSS component, and so is a unified service management and delivery platform that:
- provides a real-time verification of available funds,
- detects and prevents potential fraudulent activity,
- automatically disconnects calls to prevent balance overdrafts,
- manages flexible rating of service usage,
- offers a tool to create attractive product bundles,
- automatically assesses monthly recurring charges,
- generates and delivers invoices electronically, and
- enforces the payment collection process.
PortaSwitch stores all the information about the products, rates and customers and the service configuration for individual customers or phone lines. It is managed via a web interface and includes a self-care portal for your end users. Internally, PortaBilling controls call processing on PortaSIP as well as real-time routing.
PortaSwitch communicates with IP phones, mobile dialers and communication clients, and media gateways via the SIP protocol. There are no restrictions as far as the vendor or model of the equipment, so any communication device that supports SIP can be used in conjunction with PortaSwitch for services such as voice or video calls, presence or instant messaging.
PortaSwitch Architecture OptionsPortaSwitch is available in 3 options that are exactly the same in terms of functionality and available features but differ in scalability and redundancy options:
PortaSwitch is a converged billing system; it can be used as a single administration interface to manage and bill for multiple services, including those provided by third-party network elements, while charges for the different services will be grouped on a single bill.
PortaSwitch in its standard configuration
PortaSwitch in its standard configuration is normally installed on 5 physical servers with main and replica databases located on separate machines to provide database redundancy:
- Billing engine (RADIUS) server provides authentication, authorization, and both interim (keep alive) and service accounting processing.
- Main database server contains all system's data.
- Server for web-interfaces and replica database hosts administration interface, account and customer self-care pages, resellers helpdesk , vendor self-care pages, representatives self-care pages, and online web signup interface. It also contains scripts for calculating various statistics, provides data redundancy, and hosts XML API (SOAP) interface for integration with external applications.
- PortaSIP server that provides proxying and media applications for class 4 and 5 services (e.g. IVR playback, unified messaging and conferencing) as well as SBC functionality.
- Configuration server is a single point for efficient management and seamless update process of the whole installation set up. It is also used as a logging storage to remove the analytical task loads from the servers directly involved in the operational processes.
The hardware requirements can be found on a dedicated HW page and in the respective Guides on the Documentation page.
In addition to the ability to run several RADIUS processes in parallel on the same machine, the standard MySQL-based PortaBilling architecture allows to be expanded to utilize multiple physical servers in a cluster so it can process more RADIUS requests.
Several physically independent PortaSIP servers may be used in a single system cluster environment to provide fault-tolerant services. Connected to PortaBilling, the system of multiple PortaSIP servers provides all the required service provisioning information and maintains a global database of SIP phone registrations.
A SIP phone user may connect to any of the available PortaSIP servers. If one server is unavailable due to a hardware failure or network problem, the other PortaSIP servers will handle calls.
PortaSwitch Procinctus is twice as much powerful than a standard PortaSwitch and thus requires twice as many physical servers to be installed on (10 all together):
- Billing engine cluster of 2 servers for full AAA.
- Main database server contains all system's data.
- Replica database to provide data redundancy.
- Cluster of 2 web-servers that hosts interfaces, self-care pages, resellers helpdesk, and online web signup interface as well as scripts for calculating various statistics.
- Cluster of 3 PortaSIP servers for switching and proxying features, media applications, and SBC functionality.
- Configuration server is a single point for PortaSwitch installation management and updates with a logging storage to remove the analytical task loads from the servers directly involved in the operational processes.
This expansion requires more licensed servers and provides extra performance, since incoming requests are distributed for processing among all the available clustered servers. It also offers improved reliability, as when one of the servers is down due to hardware failure, the remaining servers in the cluster will continue operating.
Other Scalability and Redundancy Options
The unmatchable flexibility and scalability of PortaSwitch allows for various options to improve its performance and high availability of the services as well as optimize the service provider's network utilization. PortaSIP, the switching part of the platform, can form clusters for load balancing and redundancy; multiple PortaSIP servers can be installed in various locations around the globe; and PortaBilling can be expanded with Oracle RAC.
Service providers with global business exposure may choose to install a clustered system of multiple PortaSIP servers in various separate geographical locations. This allows them to keep the service running even if a whole hosting center in one place is down.
This kind of architecture also improves the network utilization: for instance, users in Asia would primarily use a PortaSIP server hosted in Singapore or Hong Kong, while European customers will work with a PortaSIP server in Frankfurt or London.
Remote Site Redundancy
PortaSwitch site redundancy allows to:
- protect against hosting facility outages
- provide service to multiple geographic regions when network connectivity between them is lost
- perform upgrades to new software versions with zero downtime
Why you need it
The only way to overcome catastrophic events and provide uninterrupted service is to have another set of servers in a different location that can continue operating during the outage at the main site.
The per-server redundancy when there are two physical servers and each runs a copy of an application such as PortaSIP, addresses the situation when a single server fails (e.g. hardware fault). However there is another class of catastrophic events that can render all servers installed in the same location (rack, hosting center, etc.) unavailable. Such events include natural disasters, power outages at the collocation provider, network routing errors, etc.
The secondary site (or multiple sites) can be installed in the hosting facility in the same city or in a totally different location across the globe. The only requirement is the sufficient amount of bandwidth between the sites to keep the data replication going.
How it works
Main site unavailable: If the secondary site detects that the main site has become unavailable, the "stand-alone" mode is activated on the secondary site and now it provides the service to end-users using the latest available snapshot of the service configuration.
Secondary site operation: When a service is provided on the secondary site, the billing engine continues to calculate applicable charges according to product, tariff and the responsible party's other billing parameters (e.g. from the account that originated the call).
Separate DB for changes: All changes to the balance and new xDRs are written into a separate "delta" database running on the same physical server as the stand-by database. This allows the billing engine to keep track of already consumed services and avoid a balance overdraft - even if a secondary site has to operate in stand-alone mode for an extended period of time - and this, therefore, results in a clear history of all produced charges.
Switching back to main site: When the primary site becomes available again, these changes are automatically applied to the primary database - and the secondary site is switched back to "normal" ("stand-by") mode. All of this happens automatically, without any need for PortaSwitch administrator involvement - and an end-user might not even notice that there were any problems at the main site.
Hardware requirements for a redundant site: A simple redundant site will require 3 servers:
- Billing server
- DB server
- PortaSIP server
The minimal specifications for the servers can be found on the HW requirements page.
Of course, this minimal configuration can easily be scaled up, expanded and clustered to increase the maximal load capacity of the secondary site and achieve per-server redundancy at the secondary locations. PortaOne technical sales team will assist you to determine your PortaSwitch network redundancy needs and advise you on the best site redundancy configuration for your project
PortaSwitch with Oracle RAC
To addresses the issues of the ultimate reliability, performance, and virtually unlimited scalability, the billing part of PortaSwitch can be replaced with PortaBilling Oracularius, an Oracle Real Application Cluster (RAC) based system.
Sharing absolutely the same feature set with standard My SQL-based PortaBilling and acting as the main core of PortaSwitch platform, PortaBilling Oracularius has a fundamentally different architecture of 3 clusters:
For more information about PortaBilling Oracularius technical capabilities, architecture, and pricing please download Oracularius Concepts Guide and contact our sales team.
PortaSwitch licensing model is based on a one-time per-installation basis. The license is perpetual, e.g. lifelong with no recurring fees are required to operate the software and unlimited with no extra charges based on the number users, customers, ports, minutes or channels - ever. More specifically, the license includes:
- Oracle Linux OS and MySQL DB (or Oracle RAC in case of PortaBilling Oracularius)
- Full source code with DB description and XML API allowing to make any changes to tune up the software to meet the most sophisticated business model requirements
- Post-installation services: initial configuration, remote monitoring, and optimization
- Customized training at your office (travel costs excluded)
- Complimentary period of PortaCare subscription: 24/7 technical support services and access to all new feature updates
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