Carriers Surf the Web 2.0 Wave

CHICAGO -- NXTcomm -- Carriers' next generation service platforms need to go beyond the closed IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) and extend into the open Web 2.0 world if they're to develop the applications their customers will demand, according to a group of senior operator CTOs talking here in Chicago.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) CTO Mark Wegleitner told a keynote audience that "IMS needs to incorporate Web 2.0 opportunities. There's a lot of innovation locked up in Web 2.0 -- it will be an amazing enabler for services innovation."

He added: "IMS is part of our plans, but we need to get to the potential of Web 2.0 and make it a tool for service innovators. We want to leverage the power of the network and use all the service delivery capabilities of IMS and Web 2.0."

BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) CTO Matt Bross agrees that incorporating the potential of Web 2.0 mashups -- the creation of a new service by combining two existing applications -- and allowing third-party developers to create applications to run on carrier networks is the only way forward.

"We're using IMS and beyond -- the innovation genie is out of the bottle. We need to do more mashups, and we need to connect together for innovation," stated Bross, who said that means operators "need to reach beyond the payroll of our organizations. There are major innovation possibilities by opening up collaboration opportunities. We're moving towards a real-time global innovation model... [and] moving from a closed to an open model. It's a big challenge," for carriers.

BT has already shown how interested it is in the potential of mashups through its involvement in an application development program with Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT). (See Mashup Wins Competition.)

More carriers need to be thinking in this way, as IMS developments have been to slow, according to Light Reading's Services Software Insider analyst Caroline Chappell. She notes in a recent column that carriers "should be urging their next-generation application suppliers to get with the Web 2.0 message... the need for operators to augment the IMS service layer with IT tools and technologies is increasingly compelling."

And, noted Chappell, that could spell trouble for the IMS community. "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," writes the analyst. (See IMS's Web 2.0 Problem.)

That IMS isn't cutting it for the major carriers was made clear by AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) CTO Chris Rice. "Building an IMS foundation is important to service creation and innovation. But IMS is rather immature at the moment, so we'll just start with simple services. IMS needs to mature," he told the audience.

And when it does, Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q) CTO Pieter Poll plans to make his new service enabling environment "IMS compliant. We have rolled out a number of services based on a platform that's IMS-like, and that will evolve."

He is also keen on exploiting the potential of Web 2.0 as well as IMS. "Web services are also important," and they will be used to deliver applications when appropriate, he said.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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