Brits Prep for IMS Skirmish

British back-office system specialist JacobsRimell Ltd. and subscriber database firm Apertio Ltd. have joined forces to offer carriers a one-stop shop for their next-generation network information needs. (See JacobsRimell, Apertio Hook Up.)

The companies say that combining JacobsRimell's service provisioning system, called APS, and Apertio's subscriber database platforms -- the One-NDS (Network Directory Server) for traditional networks and the One-HSS (Home Subscriber Server) for IMS –- will help "service providers to build, deliver, and manage more sophisticated IP-based services."

The combination could be tempting for service providers. Apertio, a new entry in Light Reading's Top Ten Private Companies, has already made a name for itself in the mobile operator world with a number of Tier 1 accounts, and is among the leading specialists with an HSS, a vital part of any IMS. (See IMS Firm Raises $30M, Apertio Ltd., and IMS Guide.)

JacobsRimell (JR), meanwhile, has built a healthy position in the cable operator/MSO sector, with customers such as Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and ntl group ltd. (Nasdaq: NTLI). The APS performs two main functions, according to VP of marketing Joe Frost.

First, it's a multiservice provisioning platform that breaks down a customer's order into network infrastructure commands and then maps that order onto the customer's profile.

Second, the APS maintains a central database of network information that enables the provisioning of multiple services. That central information repository is built by converting proprietary interface information from network elements, using protocol drivers that need to be developed by JR, and converting them into XML. That information is then used in the service provisioning process, and is also made available to OSS and business systems that need network information.

In the new partnership, the two systems combined provide a view of the network and its current capabilities, provisioning capabilities, and in-depth information about the subscribers and their accounts. "Basically, we're mapping our APS onto Apertio's server platform," says Frost, which gives carriers a system that can manage and help deliver IMS and non-IMS services at the same time.

Frost believes the best short-term opportunity for such a combination is in the telco space. "We've concentrated on MSOs so far, as they've had resource problems," but now he reckons the fixed and mobile operators are going to face a service management challenge as they migrate towards IMSs.

Heavy Reading analyst Caroline Chappell says this partnership is part of a growing trend. "There's a move for OSS firms to be the single version of truth for OSS data, and the HSS will be part of that because it's the subscriber data. JacobsRimell wants to perform that role, and Apertio will be able to feed into that."

But JR and Apertio aren't the only ones coveting the role of central information repository in an IMS world, Chappell observes. "Cramer Systems Ltd. is making a similar bid," she says, noting the British OSS firm's recent shift in strategy and relationships with database and IT giants. (See Cramer, Oracle Team Up, Cramer Partners With Alcatel, SAP, IBM, Cramer Team on SDPs, and OSS Firms Jump on IMS.)

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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