A switch that offloads call processing functions (e.g., signaling and call control) to industrystandard server hardware, essentially decomposing the call control logic from the switching platform.This function allows the placement of the call control logic at some geographically centralized location from which it can control multiple switching platforms, as well as the separate devices that provide for interconnection of circuit and packet networks. In addition to controlling a protocol conversion function, softswitches can support multiple QoS (Quality of Service) and GoS (Grade of Service) mechanisms and levels. Softswitches tend to be more flexible, less expensive, and more compact than traditional hard-coded switches. See also GoS, hardware, Media Gateway Controller (MGC), QoS, protocol converter, signaling and control, software, and switch.
(1) (Soft-Switch) Earlier software from Soft-Switch, Inc. that converted e-mail messages from one protocol to another using X.400 as a common base. Running on IBM mainframes and Data General minicomputers, Soft-Switch, Inc. became a division of Lotus in 1995. See X.400.
(2) A programmable switch that processes the signaling for packet-based telephony protocols. Also known as a "media gateway controller," "call agent" or "call server," telephony providers use softswitches to integrate PSTN signaling (SS7) with VoIP. Using network processors at its core, softswitches can support IP, DSL, ATM and frame relay transports in the same unit. The softswitch's programmability enables it to adapt to future protocols. See IP telephony, VoIP and SIP. It Should Be Able To... According to the International Softswitch Consortium, a softswitch should be able to (1) control connection services for a media gateway and/or native IP endpoints, (2) select processes that can be applied to a call, (3) provide routing for a call within the network based on signaling and customer database information, (4) transfer control of the call to another network element, and (5) interface to and support management functions such as provisioning and billing.