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BEA Leads NXTcomm's SDP Charge

The service delivery platform (SDP) sector is hot, with the temperature set to be cranked up another notch at next week's NXTcomm (was Supercomm) show in Chicago.

Carriers are focused on how to make their networks more efficient and how to create and deliver new multimedia services to their customers more quickly and more effectively -- and that's created a lot of interest in SDPs, how they fit into IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), and how they relate to next-generation OSS systems. (See SDP & SOA: Progress Report and IMS, SDP Revolutionize OSS.)

The pre-NXTcomm SDP news queue is already full of big names, with Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) making an acquisition; two sector specialists announcing a merger; Nokia Networks being chosen as the preferred integrator of the SDP Alliance; and Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) enhancing its mobile SDP. (See Ericsson Snaps Up SDP Firm, Aepona & Appium: SDP Minnows Merge, SDP Alliance Prefers NSN, and AlcaLu Enhances Mobile SDP.)

BEA Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BEAS) has added to the mix with news of enhancements to its WebLogic Network Gatekeeper, which acts as a policy manager that can sit between the network (whether built from older or next-generation elements) and applications environments, such as presence management servers. (See BEA Updates SDP Elements.)

The update is of particular interest as BEA is a critical partner to Ericsson, Accenture , and HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) -- three of the SDP sector's eight major framework vendors as identified in the recent Services Software Insider report, "SDP Market Changes: Who Wins & Why."

Each of these SDP framework vendors pulls together home-grown technology and services with third-party products to build a complete set of SDP capabilities for network operators.

So what has BEA done to its product? Ken Lee, BEA's director of WebLogic product marketing, says the new upgrade includes "integrated IMS and J2EE [Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition] support, so we have Web services, IMS, and J2EE support on one framework to manage the whole of an SDP, which is good for keeping operating expenditures down and making OAM [operations, administration, and management] easier."

Web services support is becoming increasingly important as carriers pick up on the speed-to-market of so-called Web 2.0 capabilities used by the likes of Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO), including the "mashup" technique of combining two services to create a new service. (See Why Telcos Need Web 2.0.)

Inclusion of Web services also makes for better performance and tighter integration with BEA's WebLogic SIP Server, another of the IT firm's products used by major SDP framework vendors, notes Services Software Insider analyst Caroline Chappell in her new report, "Telco Web 2.0 Mashups: A New Blueprint for Service Creation."

The new update also includes "enhanced policy management that can run across geographically dispersed data centers and enforce policy management to external applications servers," Lee says, adding that this lets carriers put "a single policy enforcement infrastructure across an entire SDP, whether it's telecom Web-services based, IMS, or legacy."

Thirdly, in addition to the Parlay X interface already used to link the Web services and telco worlds, the new version includes what Lee calls an "extension toolkit" that enables carriers, their applications development partners, and systems integrators to develop custom-built interfaces between the network and applications environments. "We're not limiting ourselves to Parlay X, which others are, and it’s customizable," Lee adds.

That's not BEA's only news, though. The company has just been named as the market leader in the telecom middleware sector by analyst and market research firm OSS Observer , with a 36 percent share of a $836 million market in 2006. (See BEA Touts Middleware Lead.)

BEA's market share is growing, according to OSS Observer, which predicts that the overall market for telecom middleware products will also grow in the coming years and be worth $1.8 billion by 2011. That should excite all the other middleware players as well. (See Who Makes What: OSS .)

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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