Open-source fever is coming to the telco voice world, as Metaswitch Networks is gathering support to create a freely available version of core IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) code, a move that could help intensify competition among equipment vendors.
Project Clearwater, as it's called, will focus on the concept of hosting IMS functions in the cloud, according to one source briefed on the idea. So, it's not just vanilla IMS that's being discussed here.
Analysts tell Light Reading that Metaswitch is doing the rounds this week, briefing them in advance of a launch sometime in May. That means the Clearwater announcement could line up with one of a few industry conferences that could conceivably have some IMS relevance: Interop (week of May 6), Management World (week of May 13) or CTIA (week of May 20).
The core functions that would become open-source as part of Project Clearwater, according to a document obtained by Light Reading, are: Breakout Gateway Control Function (BGCF); Interrogating Call Center Control Function (I-CSCF); Proxy-CSCF (P-CSCF); Serving-CSCF (S-CSCF); and Multimedia Telephony Service Telephone Application Server (MMTel TAS).
There's already an open-source IMS project being developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems (FOKUS). Imaginatively called the Open IMS Core, it seems to cover the same territory as Project Clearwater -- but with the key exception that it's not intended to produce a commercial product.
Clearwater has no relationship to OpenDaylight, the open-source project for software-defined networking (SDN). But their goals are similar: to produce open-source versions of common software that all competitors would need. (See What OpenDaylight Really Wants to Do.)
The result would be automatic commoditization of certain functions, but it also means vendors will spend less time duplicating their efforts on software that (according to some, anyway) is just not that special.
Clearwater, then, would certainly be a boost to future competitors that haven't developed any IMS code, or possibly to the mid-sized vendors such as Genband Inc. and Metaswitch.
— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading