Apr 6, 2010

Diameter Routing Agent – some open questions

I want to share with you, some thoughts from discussion I recently had about DRA.
Diameter Routing Agent (DRA) was defined in 3GPP Release 8 and onwards to manage PCRF interaction in LTE networks.
PCRF’s are becoming more advanced, with more and more Diameter interfaces, more and more traffic – and pretty soon you need someone to manage this Diameter signaling Spaghetti – this is where DRA comes into the picture – putting some order and management.
We come across some first implementations of DRA’s (and yes we in Traffix have one also, and it’s fully 3GPP Kosher) in the market this days.
Some questions that come to mind from some first glimpse in DRA implementations:

DRA – Standalone / or part of the PCRF
We see both scenarios in the market, some of the DRA’s out there are part of the PCRF, maybe it’s because they were rolled out by the PCRF vendors, I personally believe there is a huge advantage for a standalone installation, separate from the PCRF.

DRA – Diameter Proxy agent / Redirect agent
DRA was defined to act as both Proxy or Redirect agent, there was a big argument if both functionalities are needed, and eventually it was decided not to decide.
I personally think giving the DRA the flexibility to act as both Proxy or Redirect is great, and makes sure that networks could be tuned and set with much less limitations.

DRA - Interconnectivity
Policy in 3GPP is all about freedom – either in roaming scenarios or in interconnectivity between different technologies.
However with DRA being supported only by 3GPP for mobile networks, how will it integrate to the RACS in the TISPAN wireline networks for example ? will it affect fixed mobile convergence scenarios ?

Diameter Routing Agent is still new functionality, both in the specifications and much more in the market, with first glimpses mainly in LTE labs and with half backed products that only resemble DRA from a far.
I personally believe DRA will become a central component in LTE and future telecom networks, getting more and more responsibility and functionality, but this days are still far and many standardization open issues need to be closed before that.

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