IMS's Web 2.0 Problem
One of those changes now promises – or threatens – to alter or even usurp the role of IMS as the key enabler of next-gen telco services. The emergence of Web 2.0 mashups from the IT world may put a new spin on telco service creation that could ultimately render an emerging generation of IMS-based applications obsolete.
Web 2.0 application development technologies complement the hybrid Java EE/Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) application servers being promoted by IT vendors and their service-oriented architecture model of service development. As the current edition of Light Reading's Services Software Insider shows, momentum behind the Web 2.0 phenomenon has now grown to the point where the idea that the IMS service layer should remain a separate, telco-oriented platform – able to develop a universe of services that will differentiate telcos from their powerful Ihe herenternet competition – looks increasingly misguided.
Right now, the invasion of Web 2.0 into the telco service development world is getting little attention. While IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ), and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) all believe that Web 2.0 is the way forward for new IP service development, both Internet and telco, most technology vendors don't want to make too much noise about it, for fear of "scaring the horses." But as this report shows, some of the horses have already heard the noise, and at least one – BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) – is reacting to it in a significant way.
There's general agreement that SIP is a good, accessible protocol for redeveloping core telco services, as BT and other leading operators are doing. But IMS SIP is not, on its own, enough to enable an operator to deliver a rich set of revenue-generating services to the market. While each telco core service has an intrinsic value, operators will make more money out of them in a next-generation IP world if they can blend their core services in innovative ways with other functions to create value-added services. In other words, they need to make these SIP-based core services available for mashup.
Unfortunately, traditional telco application vendors are building a next generation of SIP-based applications in the "black box," stovepiped manner that has characterized the telco industry for so many years. Ironically, it was this stovepipe mentality that IMS was intended to tear down. Each black-box application has the vendor's own instance of a core service locked inside it. The core service has been implemented using IMS standards and protocols, and it runs on a SIP application server. But it is not available to anyone else for mashup, which restricts what an operator can do with the core service once the service is deployed.
At the same time, IMS is competing against a growing number of "over-the-top" protocols and architectures emerging from the Web 2.0 world, from non-telco competitors such as Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO), and Microsoft. Web 2.0 is bringing with it a new set of non-IMS protocols for presence, location, and call control that could become the new industry standards in these areas. Popular IPTV solutions aren't IMS-based, and operators increasingly need to support what Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is calling "Video 2.0": the mixing of user-generated content with IPTV and streamed content, using over-the-top protocols. Some operators are fighting back, using clever middleware or a Java APIs for Integrated Networks (JAIN) Service Logic Execution Environment (SLEE) to expose their existing legacy core services to a Web 2.0 world – they feel they can't afford to wait to migrate to an IMS service layer. The availability of so many alternatives to the IMS service layer should be ringing alarm bells within the community.
That's alarm bells, not a death knell. Web 2.0 is a viral technology that is catching on at a tremendous rate. Industry developments over the past six months illustrate powerfully that Web 2.0 is now a mainstream trend, and one that will be important for a long while. Web 2.0 is leading to new business models built on the consumption, brokering, and development of new services that threaten to render operator portal strategies irrelevant.
As a result, the need for operators to augment the IMS service layer with IT tools and technologies is increasingly compelling. And operators should be urging their next-generation application suppliers to get with the Web 2.0 message, too: Get them to open up their black boxes and make both core and value-added functions reusable and mashable, so that the telco industry as a whole can increase the rate of service creation and beat the Internet companies at their own game.
— Caroline Chappell, Analyst, Light Reading's Services Software Insider
Telco Web 2.0 Mashups: A New Blueprint for Service Creation, a 31-page report in PDF format, is available as part of an annual subscription (12 monthly issues) to Light Reading's Services Software Insider, priced at $1,295. Individual reports are available for $1,250.