Navigation. It’s the one word that seems most appropriate for helping IMS decision makers with this issue. My focus on navigation stems from the fact that the market is becoming more challenging to fully comprehend, partly because of the sheer number of IMS-related announcements.
"Any IP based network is vulnerable to the threat of Malware. Service Providers may be able to deploy technology that analyzes network communications to identify any malware within the network or to identify compromised protocols. Enterprises have similar technologies at their disposal as well as others, like Promisec, that can identify malware when it gets to endpoints or servers.”
— Amir Kotler, CEO of Promisec
Additionally, there is a bit of confusion over what I wrote about last month — Advances in IMS or A-IMS (http://www.tmcnet.com/ims/0806/publishers-outlook-0806.htm). People are trying to wrap their heads around what A-IMS might mean to the industry. More recently, another announcement was made by a group of leading mobile operators promoting the Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) initiative. This group will focus on new technologies such as WiMAX. They hope to leverage their sizable influence to put forth their recommendations to those telecom equipment manufacturers supplying NGN handsets and infrastructure. To this end, the group is inviting handset, core and radio access equipment vendors to join NGMN as affiliated members.
Part of the motivation for this initiative arises from the group’s conviction that the 2G and 3G operators didn’t have a strong enough voice in setting standards. Hopefully this initiative will play nice with the IMS framework and further interoperability will result from the NGMN’s efforts.
Speaking of standards, the IMS Forum (News - Alert)
has been very busy since our last issue getting a bakeoff ready and they have also put out a great FAQ on IMS — basically everything you wanted to know but were afraid to (or didn’t know who to) ask. See www.imsforum.org for details.
Other things worth noting are that Frost & Sullivan has decided that Empirix (News - Alert)
is the leader in the IMS testing space. This is not so surprising as Empirix has been promoting their thought leadership — with products and in other ways — in this space while their competition has been pretty quiet. That is, until recently — Spirent too is now playing in the IMS game with its Spirent Protocol Tester.
Spirent’s Protocol Tester seems like a good tool for addressing IMS interoperability testing challenges because it allows users to add, remove and customize protocol message headers and payloads. The tool also allows engineers to define and create any protocol call-flow using any mix of protocols.
My take is that Spirent is late to the game but they are large enough so that the delay may not hurt them if they are quick to promote their new products. I expect to see Ixia (News - Alert)
gaining some share in this space as well. That’s because, whereas Empirix seems to own dominant IMS mindshare today, there isn’t yet a strong number two testing player.
The trend towards larger and larger IMS announcements continues. For example, Flextronics Software Systems (News - Alert)
recently announced its Diameter IMS Solution, geared toward telecom equipment manufacturers and applications developers who want to create charging and self-profiling software for IMS.
The Diameter Solution is an off-the-shelf signaling solution. It offers a multi-protocol framework and a distributed architecture for high capacity and fault tolerance. The solution features external API support and a modular design to ensure optimal parsing and easy adoption for any host system software architecture. The solution may support several thousand sessions per second on a single server. This reduces the total cost of ownership and also controls congestion, enabling upgrades on live systems. It complies with 3GPP Release 6 specifications and IETF standards, as well as all necessary interfaces like Ro/Rf, Cx, Dx and Sh. The product additionally features flexible APIs for Java applications as well as enhanced APIs for 3GPP and TISPAN.
Flextronics’ new Diameter Solution, in conjunction with the company’s existing portfolio of SIP and SS7 technologies, enables telecom equipment manufacturers to develop IMS-compliant core and interworking solutions.
Other large players are trying to get a piece of the IMS pie. For example, distribution giant EMBARQ Logistics (formerly Sprint North Supply) (News - Alert)
and Sonus Networks (News - Alert)
recently entered a distribution agreement in which EMBARQ Logistics will resell Sonus’ suite of IMS-ready solutions in North America.
Sonus has been in the IMS news often and they recently announced that their IMS solutions will be behind the Whaleback CrystalBlue Voice Service. Whaleback’s target customers are SMBs and hopefully we will see the Sonus solution used to its full potential so small and medium businesses can get some of the most advanced IMS services available on the market.
So it looks like the industry is off to a great start with a slew of products and services to choose from. The only downside in IMS at the moment is the rush by vendors to label all of their existing equipment as IMS-ready. It reminds me of the Internet’s early days when you could even find an Internet-ready UPS.
Obviously we are still in the early stages of this market’s life, and companies that just repackage old products and rely on marketing spin won’t last. Still, the buyer must beware and one of the jobs of this publication will be to help you navigate the IMS waters more effectively. Consider this publication the GPS of your IMS voyage.
IMS Magazine — Now Available Live
If you like this magazine you will love it live and by that I mean IMS Expo that takes place in San Diego, CA in October of 2006 and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in January 2007. Make sure to check www.tmcnet.com for details on this event. I just spent many hours with my team assembling the best IMS conference program in the world and if you are looking to understand everything you need to know in the world of service provider communications you will not want to miss either event. As always please book your hotel room early as TMC events are consistently selling out show hotels and surrounding hotels months before our events.