Microsoft Kills Its SDP

Microsoft hangs an 'end of life' tag on the Connected Services Framework service delivery platform used by the likes of AT&T and BT

December 2, 2008

4 Min Read
Microsoft Kills Its SDP

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) has stuck an "end of life" tag on its Connected Services Framework (CSF), despite having more than 30 carrier customers for the service delivery platform (SDP) product.

The move is a major setback for the software giant, which has long been keen to play an integral role at the heart of telecom operators' next-generation service creation strategies. (See Microsoft Tweaks Its Carrier Strategy.)

But the decision doesn't come as a major shock: Light Reading flagged problems within Microsoft's Communications Sector unit in November when we reported the departure of Michel Burger, one of the key individuals driving adoption and acceptance of the CSF product. (See Microsoft Exec Jumps Ship.)

Richard Koh, Director, Business Online Services Group, and the executive responsible for CSF, confirms that the SDP has been designated "end of life," and that Microsoft's focus is now on the delivery of services.

"We're shifting away from the infrastructure of service delivery and focusing more on services and partnerships. You can see evidence of that with services such as Exchange Online," which was launched by Microsoft in November.

Terry McGuigan, director of the Microsoft Communications Sector's Global Partner Program, says all CSF customers, which include the likes of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), China Mobile Communications Corp. , Orange (NYSE: FTE), T-Mobile International AG , and Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), have been informed. "We will ensure that product support will continue – there should be no issues there. We're confident we can maintain our relationships with those customers." (See 3GSM: Day 1 News Roundup, FT Commits to MS SDP, AT&T Adopts Microsoft's SDP, and Microsoft Intros FMC Solution.)

McGuigan noted that CSF deployments had involved a fair degree of "customization and integration work."

Now Microsoft's strategy, in addition to the continuing promotion of its IPTV Mediaroom platform, is to build services partnerships with carriers, whereby Microsoft applications, such as Exchange Online, or services, such as hosted email or voicemail, are offered to the carrier's customers, and hosted and managed either by the carrier or by Microsoft. (See Mediaroom Hits 2M Subs and IBC: Microsoft Adds Ads to IPTV.)

The software giant has just announced one such deal with Australian operator Telstra Corp. Ltd. (ASX: TLS; NZK: TLS). That deal is set to involve the carrier providing hosted Microsoft applications via its T Suite portal and the integration of Telstra's hosted VoIP service with Microsoft office applications. (See Microsoft, Telstra Team Up.)

Early mover that was overtaken
The CSF platform was first launched in February 2005 at what was then the 3GSM World Congress event (when it was still held in Cannes, France), just as the SDP concept was gaining acceptance among carriers that were looking for a more efficient and speedy way to create and launch new services. (See Microsoft Pushes Deeper Into Carriers, Carriers Buy Into SDPs, and SDPs: The Next Grand Design?)

But despite attracting a number of Tier 1 carrier customers, Microsoft struggled to gain widespread support from the independent software vendor (ISV) and application developer community, and ended up being overtaken by more nimble players.

Caroline Chappell, Services Software Insider analyst and SDP specialist, says Microsoft's entry into the SDP market "did help to raise the game of other SDP vendors, made the industry as a whole discuss the relationship between telco services and Web-based services, and helped to get telcos thinking about the potential of the SaaS [software as a service] model that Internet companies are exploiting so successfully." (See Carriers Slowly Shifting to SaaS.)

However, "the problem with the CSF is that it was neither one thing nor the other -- neither a large systems integration framework that could deal with the range of service delivery issues that telcos face, nor a simple enough Web 2.0 style platform for incubating and hosting new services," adds Chappell.

"In the meantime, a number of the latter platforms have grown up independently, such as Ribbit Corp. ," now owned by BT, and "operators are building them for themselves using open source software, such as Vodafone with Betavine. And while Microsoft was trying to sell a platform, it took its eye off the services ball. Now companies such as Jamcracker Inc. are successfully selling [to carriers] platforms plus a portfolio of third-party applications, including Microsoft's," notes the analyst. (See BT Leapfrogs to Web 2.0 With Ribbit , Ribbit Touts Developer Kit, Telus, Jamcracker Offer SAS, and Telstra to Offer SaaS.)

Jamcracker is not alone in continuing to develop the SDP space: Other specialist vendors, which provide various elements that make up the complex world of telecom service creation environments, and major software players still involved in the sector include Accenture , Aepona Ltd. , AppTrigger Inc. , Convergin , HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ), IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), jNetX Inc. , Nokia Networks , OpenCloud Ltd. , and Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL), among others. (See Convergin Brokers VC Deal, OSS Giants Shift Up a Gear, Comverse, IBM Team Up, Oracle Tackles Service Delivery, HP Launches SDP , Oracle, ZTE Team on SDPs, Aepona Expands for Telco 2.0 Assault, and NSN Wins SDP Deal.)

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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