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Greg Galitzine - IMSDefining IMS

By Greg Galitzine


It was six men of Indostan; To learning much inclined,

Who went to see the Elephant (Though all of them were blind),

That each by observation; Might satisfy his mind.

So begins the 19th century poem by John Godfrey Saxe. The poem is based on an ancient Indian fable; some claim the tale has its origins in the Jain Dharma, a religion/philosophy dating back to the prehistory of Southeast Asia. Anekantavada is a basic principle of Jainism literally meaning “non-onesidedness.” Anekantvada compels us to consider the point of view of others. One should not reject a belief simply because it uses a different perspective.

So it seems, is the case with IMS. Often, when asked to define IMS, experts lean on what IMS isn’t to make their point. And while folks may be correct when they declare that “IMS is not a product,” or “You can’t sell an IMS,” or “IMS is simply a ploy cooked up by carriers to wall off their subscribers,” they fail to actually define what IMS is.

At its most basic, IMS, or IP Multimedia Subsystem, is a roadmap, an architecture for service providers to, well… provide services; multimedia services, over fixed and mobile networks.

Of course that simple definition of IMS can mean many things to many people. IMS is video. IMS is voice. IMS will impact end user devices. IMS is wireless. IMS is fixed/mobile convergence. IMS is the future. IMS is now. IMS… VoIP… IMS… UMA… IMS…TISPAN...Yes! Yes! Yes!!!

Pretty crazy, huh?

Well, the stated goal of this publication is to help you sort through the clutter, and to help educate you on all the various pieces that go into this thing called “IMS.” This issue of IMS Magazine features a number of perspectives on the technology and the opportunity afforded by IMS.

Resident columnist Ronald Gruia provides his usual brilliant analysis, taking a decidedly technical look at the situation in his Analyst’s Corner column. Mike McHugh, in his Industry Perspective column, highlights a number of examples of new, innovative IMS-based services being considered by service providers today. Matt Tooley discusses the challenges faced by operators when selecting a policy management implementation strategy for their IMS networks and demonstrates that a unified policy management strategy is fundamental to the success for these deployments. Steve Shaw weighs in on IMS and UMA and the different roles these technologies play with respect to convergence for mobile operators, as well as for integrated operators that own both fixed and mobile access networks. Paul Scarff discusses the lack of OSS service management functionality and how that threatens to deflate the promise of IMS and turn it into just another silo in carriers’ networks. And, Richard Cardone explores the next-generation services arena, from an ETSI TISPAN perspective.

Saxe concludes his poem:

And so these men of Indostan; Disputed loud and long,

Each in his own opinion; Exceeding stiff and strong,

Though each was partly in the right; And all were in the wrong!

Let me start by saying our authors aren’t wrong; they are all right. They do however, come at the issue of IMS from different angles, with different points of view.

There are of course differences between IMS and a pachyderm. One has evolved slowly, over thousands of years. The other is a work in progress, albeit at today’s incredible pace of technological change. But similarities exist. Both are huge (certainly the potential is there). Both are multifaceted and feature many distinctive elements, and depending on one’s viewpoint can mean different things to different people. One thing I think most of us agree on however, is that IMS presents an opportunity. And that opportunity can only be realized if we all keep an open mind and work together towards a common goal.

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