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October 2008 | Volume 11 / Number 10
The Zippy Files

Making Anything Available Anywhere

Yours Truly just got back from our ITEXPO West 2008, held in the Los Angeles Convention Center September 16-18. It was TMC (News - Alert)’s best show yet, with attendees converging on the Exhibit hall, keynotes and conference sessions from literally all over the world.

With each passing ITEXPO (News - Alert), the ambitions of IP communications vendors increase. First there was unified messaging, pretty much confined to the desktop. Then came more mobile unified communications suites involving forwarded calls and call control features imported from the office. Later, dual-mode phones made their appearance, combining WiFi (News - Alert) and cellular in a way so that voice calls could be seamless handed over from the office network (WiFi) to the greater cellular network, and back again if necessary.

One would think that simply being able to reach anybody anywhere with voice or instant messaging would be sufficiently impressive, but today’s developers are not resting on their laurels. Rather than just projecting the capabilities of an office PBX (News - Alert) out to the mobile device of today’s corporate road warrior, developers are attempting to project even sophisticated collaborative and back office applications to the fingertips of users roaming about the landscape. These services will become more and more capable as WiMAX (News - Alert) and then LTE create inexpensive personal wireless broadband pipes of up to 100 megabits per second. Everyone and their devices will be a node on a network, and at any one time most of the nodes will be in motion.

You could see this long evolutionary process start to happen with those first intrepid programmers who formulated the first “mashups” and are now beginning to simplify matters by pouring the old developer-reseller-customer paradigm down the drain and projecting services and applications from the network side, bringing us instead various potent brews of SOA, SaaS (News - Alert) and Web Services, all of this much to the detriment of the old-fashioned Independent Software Developers (ISVs). Of course, some corporate cultures will never adopt the idea of allowing their data stores to be held as guests away from their corporate borders, even though the corporate “border” must now be drawn around every mobile device in the field anyway.

Service provider models themselves are evolving into more flexible forms (e.g. vertical partnering with content providers, inter- and intra-provider services), and this along with upcoming advanced services and applications will in turn help streamline and generally transform business processes, making tomorrow’s business world a very different place from the one in which we work today. It’ll even impact on the world of entertainment and other communications-related aspects of our lives.

Recently, for example, I talked with Martin Creaner, President of the TM Forum (TMF) and Lee Himbeault, Senior Strategy Manager, TELUS (News - Alert) Partner Solutions, and Business Committee Chair of the IPsphere program. The TM Forum is an industry association focused on transforming business processes, operations and systems for managing and monetizing on-line information, communications and entertainment services.

The TMF had just announced that they had joined forces with the IPsphere Forum (IPSF) so that TMF could broaden the scope of its work and initiatives.

“IPsphere’s work on advanced service delivery impacts on a range of TM Forum (News - Alert) work, including the TM Forum program on Service Delivery Networks,” says Creaner.

IPSF’s work will soon be integrated with the TMF’s ongoing Service Delivery Framework. “Together, we will provide a more encompassing set of best practices, standards and guidelines to drive the development and roll-out of IP-based information, communications and entertainment services,” says Himbeault.

The TMF and its partners realize that Fixed-Mobile Convergence (News - Alert) (FMC) means more than “any service, on any network, to any device”. Personalized information and entertainment will require all-encompassing, truly standardized approaches for managing end-user devices (e.g, mobile handsets, TV, PC, games consoles, etc.).

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