VoIP Systems

FT Commits to MS SDP

Another month, another telecom coup for Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT). Having initially announced their collaboration last week, this morning France Telecom SA (NYSE: FTE) said it will work hand-in-hand with the software giant to develop next-generation services and VOIP handsets (see FT, MSFT Unveil SOA, VOIP Initiatives and FT, Microsoft Develop Services).

The service development plans are based on Microsoft's Connected Services Framework (CSF), which has emerged as one of the industry-leading service delivery platforms (SDPs) of choice for carriers and integrators in the past few months (see AT&T Adopts Microsoft's SDP, Accenture, MSFT Team on SDPs, Microsoft Preps for Telco Battle, and Microsoft Pushes Deeper Into Carriers).

In a statement issued this morning, France Telecom said Microsoft's technology will "provide a foundation for building and managing complex services using service-oriented architecture (SOA) and Web service interfaces. France Telecom will aggregate, provision and manage a range of new converged services for consumers and business customers, to enrich and simplify their everyday life, regardless of network or device."

Service delivery platforms are emerging as one of the critical new foundations underpinning carriers' next-generation services plans (see SDP Costs Get a Grilling, Carriers Buy Into SDPs, and SDPs: The Next Grand Design?). Other vendors pushing their own SDP solutions to telecom operators include AePona Ltd., Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERICY), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), and Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW). (See Sun Announces SDP Plan and AePona Scores Asia-Pac SDP Win.)

Caroline Chappell -- who wrote the recent Light Reading Insider report, "Service Delivery Platforms: The Next Grand Design?" -- says Microsoft has made "remarkable progress. It has signed up many more large carriers than anyone could have expected."

Chappell is convinced that operators are attracted by the cost, ease of deployment, and ready made hordes of third-party developers that come with the Microsoft platform. "Using something that's off-the-shelf shortens the time to market, and then there's the attraction of being able to use applications developed by the millions of .NET developers already out there," says the analyst.

There's also a cost element: Chappell says carriers are finding that the traditional method of employing a large systems integrator to develop a services platform from scratch can cost as much as $25 million, while using the Microsoft technology to develop a prototype platform that can be rolled out to a carrier's various divisions would not only be quicker but could cost as little as $1 million, or even less (see SDP Costs Get a Grilling).

"That's a huge attraction for carriers, especially when there's a great deal of uncertainty over the potential payback of these platforms," she notes. "Microsoft's success will certainly be putting some [traditional integrators'] noses out of joint."

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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