By: Tim Young

In considering the on-again-off-again relationship between market observers and IMS, I thought back to an article I wrote on the topic in 2005. I recall it mostly for the mix of enthusiasm and sheer bafflement demonstrated by many of the vendors and service providers I spoke to about the technology.

The piece was entitled, “Emerging IMS: Charting a New Direction”, and most of the vendors I spoke with don’t even exist anymore. (If you’re itching for a ride in the wayback machine, you can read the whole article here:

I closed the article with these words: “Optimism is somewhat easier to grab onto on the front end of a challenge. As IMS grows and changes, the true ability of firms to stay ahead of the curve will be tested, and it will be positive results that adorn the firms that display the most accurate vision of the future of IMS.”

Now, there were all kinds of things I didn’t know in 2005: That taking shampoo onto an airplane would one day be illegal. Which characters on the reimagined Battlestar Galactica were Cylons. That there would ever be such a thing as an iPhone.

But it was clear, even then, that IMS may have a complicated future.

True to form, within a few short years, the death of IMS was being declared in conference sessions and publications throughout the industry. Some, like Yankee Group’s Brian Partridge, asserted that it was just the death of the hype cycle, but that the technology would remain active as long as CSPs remained invested in the complex and expensive framework ( hype-is-officially-dead/). Others, like unequivocal IMS critic Dean Bubley, were far less diplomatic, decrying IMS as a boondoggle whose time had passed and that was only being propped up by those with incentive to do the propping ( networks-dead-parrot.html).

And why wouldn’t that be the case? Vendors, following the Field of Dreams model of infrastructure development (“If you build it, they will come.”) got to work doing the building, but the cost and complexity of IMS was proving to be too much for CSPs.

In fact, when we first discussed mentioning IMS as a part of our network impact issue, the conversation went something like, “now that IMS is dead, what are service providers using to do the things it should have done?”

Meanwhile, however, IMS was not resting in peace. Instead it was waiting for its moment to stride, like Tom Sawyer, into its own funeral service, breathing and grinning.

That moment seems to have arrived, thanks to LTE bullishness.

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