Pipeline Publishing, Volume 5, Issue 6
This Month's Issue:
IMS: the Way to True Convergence?
download article in pdf format
last page next page

Addressing the Challenges and
Opportunities of IMS Pragmatically

back to cover

article page | 1 | 2 | 3 |

incorporate them into their own offerings. This standards-based service layer – ideally built on a pre-integrated SDP infrastructure – must be practical enough to be delivered rapidly and with minimal risk. It should leverage the networks, IT infrastructures, and skill sets that CSP organizations already have, and it must also provide a fast path to revenue that justifies the business case.

An effective services layer architecture cuts across multiple access networks within a SDP, building on existing services and pulling them together without actually merging or migrating them. The goal is to transform the SDP services layer with a converged service creation and execution environment before implementing IMS so that services are no longer network-specific, but rather are "network-agnostic" and able to fluidly traverse IP-based domains.

In addition, the services layer must draw upon the network capabilities, or service enablers, in the SDP – including presence, conferencing, location, subscription management, charging, logging, quality of service, policy enforcement, and security. Because these capabilities are not inherent to internet-based service providers, they are critical competitive differentiators for CSPs.

Enablers use a simple Java or Web services interface to make systems and services network-agnostic, providing CSPs with an easier way to manage services, reuse network components, and create more sophisticated, converged services than are currently available on the internet.

A well-defined enabler brings underlying network technology features and settings into a component that the CSP can tie into a service and deliver predictably. Enablers help stabilize application development by providing developers with a common way to use the capabilities of the component – regardless of which protocol extensions are in use. This enables migration at the network level and allows the CSP to carry out integration with existing and future network elements incrementally, without the wholesale replacement of silos.

Enablers that encapsulate commonly required capabilities allow operators to consolidate and share operational support system/business support system (OSS/BSS) functionality across multiple services. Consolidation across multiple networks and network technologies is critical for the convergence of wireless, wireline, and broadband networks. Having a unified view of the systems for identity management, charging, subscriber profiles, customer relationship management, and partner management makes migrating services across network technologies and vendors significantly more cost-effective than service-centric or silo-based approaches.

Further, CSPs must build IP-based services layers within their SDPs on open industry standards to make them more easily accessible to third party partners and external developers. The simpler the process, the quicker CSPs can deploy and generate revenue from new services. In addition to a standards-based service layer, CSPs must also embrace service-oriented architecture (SOA)

The simpler the process, the quicker CSPs can deploy and generate revenue from new services.


concepts. With an open, standards-based platform, partners can combine their own content and applications with the CSP's specific underlying network capabilities that users can request, configure, and interact with on demand. In addition, partners can create and quickly take to market well-defined, SOA-based services – because the services already incorporate key business and technical requirements such as charging, policy execution, and device management.

The Reality

CSPs worldwide are beginning to leverage SDPs to pragmatically introduce IMS-based services and generate new revenue to enhance their competitiveness with the internet giants. For example, mobilkom austria group (mag), a leading mobile service provider in Central and Eastern Europe, has taken a pragmatic approach, deploying a services layer to quickly bring innovative and uniquely differentiating IMS services to market by leveraging the agility and innovation of external developer communities. One new mobilkom austria group IMS-based service already in production is "mag over IP," which enables end users to send and receive VoIP calls on their PCs or laptops as though they were using their mobile phones. This service provides end-users with greater flexibility in the way they manage calls – while continuing to benefit from unified billing, as well as realizing new functionality such as IMS-based multi-ring that allows one phone number to ring all of a user's devices.

BT, a leading CSP widely recognized as an industry innovator, is also pursuing an SDP-based services layer approach. To maximize the value of its 21st Century Network (21CN), a software-driven customer network that delivers next-generation services faster, BT is implementing its Innovation Platform to provide a single service development and deployment environment for both internal groups and external partners. The company is recruiting independent application developers by using a well-defined, standards-based approach that allows developers to access core carrier-grade capabilities such as billing and provisioning. By instituting a common design process built on reusable service components, BT can deploy network-agnostic applications that cross domains and are not limited or affected by ongoing network transformations.

There is no doubt that today CSPs face a fierce, expanding competitive landscape that is driving new, diverse revenue models and a rapid pace of innovation. However, if they take a pragmatic approach to IMS, CSPs can benefit from more agile, cost-effective infrastructures that can easily evolve with next-generation network architectures, and they can take advantage of their deep customer relationships while creating new revenue streams and partner value chains that support them into the future.

article page | 1 | 2 | 3 |
last page back to top of page next page

© 2006, All information contained herein is the sole property of Pipeline Publishing, LLC. Pipeline Publishing LLC reserves all rights and privileges regarding
the use of this information. Any unauthorized use, such as copying, modifying, or reprinting, will be prosecuted under the fullest extent under the governing law.