Standards for the Digital Revolution

"When dealing with IMS-based clouds or large cloud infrastructure with services running over them, telcos are in a good place to possibly entice more enterprises and consumers to invest in multi-cloud services"

“Any given service delivered today is a compilation or mash-up of many different things, and like a service composition in an SOA context there will be certain components of a service hosted in a telco environment, while other components will be hosted elsewhere,” explains Eric Troup, CTO of Communications Media at Microsoft and an elected executive committee member of TM Forum’s Technology Steering Committee. “The question becomes one of managing the end-to-end processes around provisioning, service assurance, charging, fault and performance management, and QoS and SLA management and understanding the economic impacts of it all.”

TM Forum’s Collaboration Programs and Initiatives are focusing on a common purpose through the prism of Frameworx: define how to manage new business models so that services can be exposed via IMS or cloud infrastructure. “This can be powerful in business models where, for example, service syndication might turn a ‘vendor’ into an actual ‘service provider,’ or vice versa,” says Troup, noting as an example MS Office 365, where a VoIP offering is hosted in the Microsoft cloud and delivered over a CSP’s network (IP or MPLS-enabled), with other components of services bundled specifically for enterprises or consumers.

“When dealing with IMS-based clouds or large cloud infrastructure with services running over them, telcos are in a good place to possibly entice more enterprises and consumers to invest in multi-cloud services,” believes Troup, who thinks of the cloud as an IMS app stack that exposes services via REST, Web Services or Soap interfaces. “There is so much that can be done by service providers to participate in new business models,” he says, referring to the Olympics as an example. “This year Microsoft streamed coverage to an Azure data center in Dublin where codec processes and watermarking took place before being pushed over global content-delivery networks to local service providers and cable companies’ digital channels, which in turn delivered video to various devices in the right formats for consumption.”

In these instances network operators can extend the Frameworx reference architecture to better enable end-to-end service management for provisioning, assurance, charging and handling other aspects critical to generating and capturing revenue in these emerging business models.

To better demonstrate to operators and their partners how this can be done, TM Forum has launched its Cloud and New Services Initiative and a Software-Enabled Services Initiative, both of which strive to reduce the cost of delivering services across value chains comprising multiple parties (e.g., content, applications, advertising, and mobile-money types of services). Each initiative works by standardizing interface specifications to help operators open up infrastructure and services to third parties, value chains and multiple‐sided business models.

Additionally, the Forum has recently initiated a “soft launch” of The Digital Services Channel, which will further explore the many-to-many relationships CSPs will foster with the likes of Google and Apple. Thus far the Digital Services Channel has focused on metadata, ingestion, retail reporting, and settlements, all intended to provide integration and reference solutions for managing content and services among stakeholders, as well as delivery and monetization.

“This initiative has been triggered by a massive shift in thinking as our members think of how to connect or even push into healthcare, smart grids and other industries in which they can participate or provide value as direct participants or enablers to others,” says TM Forum President and CEO Martin Creaner. “Of our 600 suppliers, for example, most are interested in ‘re-use’ and how to leverage what they do in communications that can then bring value in other industries. The same is happening with the service providers; consider an AT&T or Verizon and the foray into healthcare, utilities/smart grids and financial services, and you get a sense of why someone like an AllScript also joins.”


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