IMS Firm Raises $30M

Telecom subscriber database firm Apertio Ltd. , an early mover in the hot IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) sector, has raised $30 million in its third round of funding and has its eye on a public listing as demand from major carriers for IMS-capable systems grows. (See Apertio Raises $30M .)

Apertio's Series B round brings its total funding to $50 million. Previous investors, including Deutsche Venture Capital (DVC) , Eden Ventures , and Motorola Ventures , were joined by T-Mobile Venture Fund , the VC arm of Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT).

The company says the money sets it on course for an IPO: It expects to provide its investors with an exit by going public instead of organizing a trade sale, though no date has been set. The vendor will first concentrate on doubling the £10 million (US$17.5 million) in revenues it generated in 2005, a target it expects to meet.

Apertio has built its current business selling subscriber database technology to wireless operators, such as Orange SA (London/Paris: OGE), T-Mobile International AG , and Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), an engagement it announced today, but has been pushing its credentials as a supplier of Home Subscriber Server (HSS) technology for IMS environments for a few years.

And having a convincing story in that niche sector is something worth having, says Graham Finnie, senior analyst at Heavy Reading and author of a report on IMS. (See IMS Takes Over the World.)

"The HSS is very important, one of the key modules in an IMS environment. There's a lot of potential to make some serious money if you have a good HSS," notes Finnie. "But there's plenty of competition in this area. Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) has been doing a lot of work in this area, and then there are other players such as Bridgewater Systems Corp. (Toronto: BWC) and HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ)."

The Apertio team still reckons it has a few advantages. Andrew Wyatt, the firm's VP of marketing, notes that the firm's core product, its Common Subscriber Directory -- a distributed cluster of databases -- has been built using X500, the telecom industry's standard carrier directory technology. This, he says, makes it easy for carriers to understand and integrate -- it's cheap compared with other database technologies and can be distributed and scaled across multiple geographic locations, providing additional security through data replication.

Apertio also claims it delivers sub-5ms response times, and speedy data retrieval will become an increasingly key issue as fixed and mobile data users find themselves using multiple concurrent applications, including messaging, voice, and availability and status functions.

The other key attribute is that "we're completely independent. We have no axe to grind, and have lots of vendors wanting to work with us," says Wyatt. Apertio's list of partners includes some big names, including Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT).

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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