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September 08, 2008

Pactolus Communications: Choosing the Right Open Source Technology is Key to Service Creation Success

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Senior Editor

In the communications industry, open source technology tends to get a lot of press, touted as the next big thing in creating more “open” systems based on standards like Session Initiation Protocol (News - Alert) (SIP) that will do away with the old “siloed” approach of service delivery. Open source, the theory goes, will enable more flexible and innovative service delivery, to the betterment of providers and customers alike.
All too often, though, open source fails to live up to its promise. Is this because open source is inherently flawed as a means of creating and delivering communications services? Ken Osowski (News - Alert), vice president of marketing and product management at Pactolus Communications, thinks not — and will explain why during the “Service Creation Considerations” session at INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO West 2008 later this month.
Osowski and co-presenter Kevin Edwards (News - Alert) from EMBARQ will focus on how service providers and integrators can use open source/open access platforms based on SIP to optimize their service and application development initiatives. The session will also touch on how service creation platforms are being used to integrate VoIP and other services with Web applications.
During his portion of the presentation, Osowski will outline a list of key selection criteria that should be applied when picking a service creation platform. All too often, he told TMCnet, there is a tendency for companies embarking on open source initiatives to simply pick the de-facto, best-known platform without basing the decision on a structured set of criteria. What happens then? Several months into an open source initiative, it becomes clear that that the platform selected either doesn’t scale appropriately, or that it has inherently problematic features/usage limitations.
In other words, most open source initiatives fall short in two ways:
a. Limits in functionality
b. Inability to scale
The reason for this, Osowski said, is that the technology being used was intended for enterprise applications, not for building real-time communications services. The solution isn’t to throw out the concepts of open source and open access, but to use a technology — SIP — that actually can do what is needed.
So what should a service provider look for when picking an open source development platform? Osowski said two of the criteria he’ll elaborate on during the ITEXPO (News - Alert) session are scope of innovation and feature flexibility. The first criterion relates to how adaptable the platform is for building services and applications. Factors like usage limits and capabilities for building Web-based collaboration tools are key.
Once a system is up and running, of course, the story doesn’t end. It is necessary to keep innovating, to continue adding new call logic into what's already been created. If the system is built using SIP, this is a relatively straightforward matter, Osowski said. But, if it’s based on a technology like C++, adaptation can be both difficult and disruptive to services.
Flexibility is vital, since as all service providers know the market doesn’t stand still. Osowski views this truth in a Darwinian light: evolve or die.
“Change is the only constant,” he said.
The first step toward embracing that change is to get out the map and decide in what direction it makes most sense to head. First stop: the “Service Creation Considerations” session at ITEXPO.
While you’re waiting for ITEXPO to start, get a head start learning about real-world telecom market applications for open source/open access by visiting the Broadband Telephony channel on, brought to you by Pactolus Communications (News - Alert).
Learn more about Pactolus Communications Software at INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO — the biggest and most comprehensive IP communications event of the year.  ITEXPO will take place in Los Angeles, California, September 16-18, 2008, featuring three valuable days of exhibits, conferences, and networking opportunities you can’t afford to miss. Visit Pactolus at booth #319 in the exhibit hall. Don’t wait. Register now!

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