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February 29, 2008

Application Development in an IMS Environment

By Erik Linask, Associate Editor,
Internet Telephony magazine

Since its birth more than a decade ago, the VoIP industry has been growing, and is now experiencing an unprecedented rate of adoption, due largely to enhancements in technology that have addressed reliability concerns that marred VoIP providers not long ago. 
In addition, new multimedia services, products, and features are being introduced regularly, in both fixed and mobile environments, as well as fixed/mobile convergence (FMC) applications, all of which are driving business at telcos, cablecos, and ISPs globally.
This steady development, especially in the wireless arena, has led vendors to systematically find ways to interoperate effectively so carriers are able to quickly and reliably introduce new services to meet user demands. Naturally, this has also has led to a growing interest in IMS architectures, which are designed to enable providers to do just that — deploy services, products, and network elements from a variety of vendors with little delay.
IMS, of course, is a framework that enables delivery of IP multimedia content and services in a mobile environment, using IETF protocols, like SIP, to facilitate integration of services and products from various sources.
While theories on exactly when we will witness full realization of the promise of IMS still abound, the trend, clearly, is in that direction. However, regardless of the benefits of IMS, one thing that is important for providers to understand is their subscribers care little about service providers’ underlying technology — they choose providers for certain capabilities, and they, quite simply, expect those services to be delivered.
In addition to ensuring service delivery can be reliably achieved, the other challenge for providers is to maintain a proactive approach to understanding customer needs and desires — and to be act on them accordingly.
Integrating different applications, services, and hardware can be a complex undertaking — which, of course, is why so much attention is being given to IMS architectures. As they seek to remain competitive, service providers face mounting pressure, both from customers as well as from competitive providers.
Their real challenge, then, is to manage their service delivery architectures in a way that will enable them to roll out and support new services and applications — and the culmination of those efforts, of course, is the realization of the promise of IMS.
In order to reach that level of service creation and delivery, service providers need a solid plan for migrating and evolving their services to IMS-based networks. In order to not only succeed in doing so, but also to keep costs to a minimum — it is an expensive proposition to begin with — providers must be prepared, which means understanding the evolutionary process, the migration lifecycle, as well as the impact on both existing and future applications.
To explain key criteria for effectively developing applications in an IMS environment, as well as how to effectively transition existing applications, Intervoice and BEA Systems (News - Alert) recently teamed in a live Webinar, Building IMS Applications: Five Key Principles.
Intervoice’s (News - Alert) software and professional services enable innovative IMS-proven mobile messaging and self-service applications, and are in use by more than 5,000 customers in 80 countries, including many of the world’s leading telecommunications companies. BEA Systems is known for its innovation in enterprise infrastructure software. Combined, the two present a formidable knowledge base for providing and education on application development in an IMS environment.
To learn more about IMS and how to effectively create applications that can not only be deployed quickly, but can drive new business and create new revenue opportunities, view the Webinar archive, for an educational session from Scot Harris, Director of WW Network Product Marketing for Intervoice; Andy Smolenski, Director of Technical Alliances at Intervoice; and Ken Lee, Director of Worldwide Product Marketing at BEA Systems.
Erik Linask (News - Alert) is Associate Editor of INTERNET TELEPHONY, IMS Magazine, and Unified Communications. Prior to joining TMC, he was Managing Editor at Global Custodian, an international securities services publication. To see more of his articles, please visit Erik Linask’s columnist page.
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