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IMS

OSS Firms Jump on IMS

LONDON -- Major service providers, including BCE Inc. (Bell Canada) (NYSE/Toronto: BCE), BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), NTT Group (NYSE: NTT), Telecom Italia (TIM) , and Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN), all stressed the critical role that OSS will play in their next-generation networks at this week's 21C World Communications event here.

Mick Reeve, BT's group technology officer, for example, noted that there is belief in the industry that service delivery platforms (SDPs) "will reduce the time to create services." That might be the case, he noted, but an SDP can't do that on its own. Having the right back-office software is critical to helping SDPs deliver the benefits they claim.

And it seems the OSS vendor are on the case, with some of the telecom software sector's top names announcing new or upgraded products targeted at carriers with IMS (IP Multimedia Subsytem) and SDP plans. (See IMS Guide, 3GSM: It's an IMS Thing, and Crunch Time for IMS.)

In the past two weeks alone, IP provisioning specialist Syndesis Ltd. , inventory management firms Netcracker Technology Corp. and Cramer Systems Ltd. , and Telcordia Technologies Inc. have all made IMS-related announcements.

  • On March 21, Syndesis announced its IMS Foundation, which, the company says, provides "unified control over both applications and connectivity, providing a management plane that bridges the IMS layers." It also enables a "pragmatic evolution to the next-generation of service delivery, including IMS and support for Service Delivery Platforms." (See Syndesis Offers IMS OSS.)

  • On March 23, NetCracker unveiled its OSS Orchestrator for carriers and IMS/SDP vendors. The company says it provides a link between a carrier's OSS systems and its next-generation network "to ensure that existing OSS does not become a barrier to successful implementation of IMS/SDP." (See NetCracker Unveils OSS for IMS, SDP .)

  • On March 27, Telcordia updated its Fulfillment Suite, which includes the Granite inventory management and provisioning product, to provide service providers of all persuasions (wireline, wireless, cable) "a flexible end-to-end solution for designing and provisioning new services – including those based on IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS)." (See Telcordia Enhances Its OSS.)

    But this isn't the company's first IMS effort, by any means. (See Telcordia Boasts IMS OSS and Telcordia Launches IMS.)

  • On March 28, Cramer launched its new OSS platform designed to support carriers migrating towards next-generation network environments including IMS and SDPs, as previously reported by Light Reading. (See Cramer Gets T-Soft, Nixes IPO.)

    The Cramer6 OSS Suite extends the capabilities of the vendor's software beyond its traditional inventory management role and into automated provisioning and activation. (See Cramer Unveils New OSS.)

    As this is a major move for Cramer, the company stored up a welter of announcements, including high-profile partnerships, a new major European customer, and the BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS) deployment previously reported here. (See BellSouth Confirms Cramer Deal, TDC Uses Cramer's OSS, Cramer, Oracle Team Up, Cramer Partners With Alcatel, SAP, and Amdocs, Cramer Get Closer.)
So, why the sudden splurge of announcements? Well, the NetCracker and Syndesis announcements were made around the TelecomNext event, and that "was probably a good event to talk about IMS," reckons OSS Observer analyst Larry Goldman, though, he adds, "I suppose they may have wanted to get some news out before attention turned to the Cramer announcement."

But there's more to it than that. Goldman says service provider spending on order management, inventory, and activation will collectively grow about 15 percent (compound annual growth rate) over the next five years because of their efforts to address the rollout of new services and convergence. "I expect we will see quite a few announcements from the leading OSS vendors positioning themselves to address those needs, and I expect some credible newer entrants to make a stronger push in this area as well," he says.

In addition, the announcements, and in particular the shift in gear by Cramer, reflects a growing market expectation that service providers are finally starting to respond to convergence issues in their fulfillment system procurements.

Goldman says a number of service providers have evaluated their rollout support strategies for some of the new services they are trialing -- both residential broadband and mobile -- and realized that they won’t scale and won’t meet customer expectations without better automation. "Most of the leading service fulfillment companies are in a position to benefit from this. They all want to get the recognition that they can handle the convergence issue while also convincing service providers that they can be practical and solve specific problems."

Goldman adds that Telcordia’s issues and motivations are similar to Cramer's. "Telcordia is working to build on its base of Granite customers, as well as linking with its Maestro and Network Engineer [products]. The big message is supporting convergence with an integrated fulfillment offer from order management through to activation."

That message has already been addressed by other OSS firms in previous months, and if Goldman is right there will be plenty more to come. (See Atreus Intros IMS Auto Provisioning, Dot Hill to Certify With Microsoft, QLogic, BEA to Show Off IMS, and HP Tackles IMS.)

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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