AlcaLu & HP: SIP Can Wait
In the current economic climate, network operators are no longer so keen on rushing off and redeveloping all their communications applications in Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). Investment is being delayed, and rumors abound of network equipment vendors giving IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS)-enabled kit away for free to encourage market take-up. Operators do not want to incur the cost of service redevelopment, nor do they want to do anything that will risk fragile subscriber bases churning, such as making customers use new, SIP-based services with unfamiliar functions and interfaces.
This stalling of the IMS market has seen vendors, such as Avaya Inc. and Telcordia Technologies Inc. , withdraw or de-emphasize SIP app servers, as well as several rounds of app server vendor consolidation. BroadSoft Inc. now claims to control more than 50 percent of the SIP-based hosted VoIP application server market. Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) have gained dominant positions in the programmable SIP app server market, with Oracle also having considerable influence, through its Sun Microsystems Inc. acquisition, on the SIP app server strategy from Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC).
Oracle and IBM can afford to wait out the present lull in next-generation network (NGN)/IMS deployment and continue investing in carrier-grade improvements to their hybrid Java EE/SIP app servers to position themselves well for the not-too-distant future when telco applications will routinely be developed in SIP using off-the-shelf platforms. But will they have the market all their own way?
Not if Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) can help it. As documented in the new Light Reading's Services Software Insider, "Telco App Servers: NGIN Revs Up for a Serious Run at SIP," both of these companies are weighing in with next-generation IN (NGIN) app servers – platforms that have so far been the preserve of small independent companies, such as Aepona Ltd. , jNetX Inc. , OpenCloud Ltd. , and Telenity Inc. . These companies are targeting operators that have large installed bases of legacy IN services generating stable revenues and that want to sweat more revenue out of these assets as they migrate to a more future-proof platform.
The revival of operator interest in NGIN platforms is particularly marked in Europe and Asia, where operators have services running on soon-to-be-obsolete platforms and "evolved" NGIN solutions from equipment makers are less than satisfactory, because they remain proprietary and closed. The size of the NGIN opportunity has attracted the attention of Alcatel-Lucent and HP. Both companies have championed the cause of service-oriented architecture (SOA) and IMS, but have woken up to the fact that they have large installed bases of IN service customers who are not ready to make that move.
Alcatel-Lucent is keenly aware that its IN base is too strategic and too valuable to cede to a potential rival such as Oracle. The telco app server is a bridgehead: Once lost, customers may be inclined to turn to Oracle for other service layer products – applications, service delivery platforms (SDPs), and operations/business support systems (OSSs/BSSs) – as well. HP and AlcaLu are developing their own NGIN app servers. HP's is based on its OpenCall technology and is therefore proprietary, but Alcatel-Lucent is making a big noise about being the first equipment maker to offer JSLEE compliance.
With Alcatel-Lucent's Java Platform in play and Ericsson's SIP app server venture with Sun hitting interesting times now that Oracle holds the reins, both equipment makers and the hybrid Java EE/SIP app server specialists need to reevaluate their telco app server strategies. The Java standards world is beginning to embrace JSLEE, strengthening the case for the hybrid app server vendors to take the technology more seriously. And equipment makers such as Ericsson and Nokia Networks also need to rethink their NGIN strategies, or risk being outplayed by Alcatel-Lucent and HP.
jNetX believes it has a "three-year window" to win incumbency of the NGIN app server market before the IT vendors and their hybrid Java EE/SIP app servers sweep all before them. Alcatel-Lucent and HP are playing a longer game, but the next three years will no doubt offer plenty of spectacle, as the largest players rationalize and extend their next-generation service layer strategies.
— Caroline Chappell, Analyst, Light Reading's Services Software Insider
Telco App Servers: NGIN Revs Up for a Serious Run at SIP, a 31-page report in PDF format, is available as part of an annual subscription (6 bimonthly issues) to Light Reading's Services Software Insider, priced at $1,295. Individual reports are available for $900.