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Talking IMS with NMS Communications� Mike Katz


Rich Tehrani

RT: Mike, what are your general views on IP Multimedia Subsystem (News - Alert) (IMS)?

MK: Today, IMS is in the early adopter stage, however we are starting to see adoption plans from at least the Tier 1 carriers and service providers. Right now there are key deployment and business issues being decided by the market makers. One trap IMS followers do not want to fall into is the belief that IMS will solve everything. In fact, IMS raises the need to differentiate using new applications, while enabling subscribers who are using these applications to roam seamlessly to a competitor�s network. The advent of IMS raises tough technical and business issues!

RT: What are some of the types of new IMS applications we can expect to see?

MK: Truly new applications will come from the combinational effect you get when reusing IMS technology elements from different core applications. For example, a video content store used by a SIP application server for a core offering like videomail could be using IMS, easily repurposed to support a video blog, video share application, or a �rich voice call,� not necessarily created by the original vendor but more likely by a new third-party vendor using IMS�s SCIM (service capability interaction manager) layer. This creates a new ecosystem that takes out the �vertically integrated� silos of the past and fundamentally changes the time-to-market for network-based applications.

RT: What are some of the future problems of the all-IP network in relation to the carriers, the customers, the solutions providers, and so on?

MK: The problems are two-fold: technical and business. The technical issues are mostly around clarity of IMS definition in the applications space and interoperability. The business issues in IMS surround applications, what it means to offer one, how the users perceive more value from it (being IMS or not) and how the operators �play nice� among themselves and decide how they will allow subscribers and their applications to roam freely between operators in an all-IMS universe.

RT: Please comment on the importance of interoperability to the all-IP network.

MK: If IMS simply creates bigger and newer �vertically integrated silos� then IMS will have failed, and failed badly. To win in the future telecom market means to make money while providing accessibility and choice to consumers and businesses. Hence interoperability of IMS implementations is a must. Carriers should be able to �mix and match� IMS components within layers for the best possible return on their investment. It�s also true at the application layer as well, requiring a similar interoperability effort from the developer ecosystem. I�d define the unspoken interoperability need between legacy networks and IMS and between operators� IMS implementations as a major pothole in the road to IMS success.

RT: What is the role of NMS Communications in providing interoperability based on their communication platforms?

MK: IMS comprises 1,500 documents covering 60 network elements across architectural layers. NMS desires to create simplicity and value for its customers. NMS and its partners will provide IMS solutions in service offerings, service components and through its partners� service test equipment that enable the best of breed and mix and match IMS solutions to exist. This is exemplified by NMS�s pre IMS solutions for rich voice calling (using GSMA standards) from our Mobile Applications group, our Vision server family (IMS-ready) and partners like Empirix building IMS interoperability test equipment with our Open Access family of products.

RT: What revenue generating IMS services we might see evolve over time?

MK: IMS services will initially evolve from simple �legacy replacement� voice applications to more robust and rich offers that include: video sharing, video blogging, mobile TV, interactive gaming, mixed mode messaging (IM to voice/video etc...), presence and location applications (such as playing coupon ads to your 3G mobile when your in range of a particular advertiser in a mall), streaming video service tutorials for fleet service personnel to enable faster, cheaper service repair strategies for commodity products (i.e., copier repairs, mobile Centrex for business, networked-based directory services)... The list goes on.

RT: Will there be enterprise applications or will IMS applications target mostly consumers?

MK: The mix of applications will start with consumer because the vast majority of carriers� subscribers are consumers. While much has been said about IMS consumer applications, historically consumers have had the least incremental cash to spend on �new applications.� Operators will need to develop more of an enterprise focus for their new applications. Areas to examine include mobile Centrex, (call completion, bridging IP and TDM networks), networked-based directory services (bridging enterprise contact data into a network service) and fleet support services (streaming video tutorial content over IP or 3G-324M services to 3G phones). Consumer applications to watch are video blogging and video sharing.

RT: What do you think of the acquisitions being made in the DSP resource board space?

MK: Some companies come and go, but NMS has been a stalwart and will continue to be one in the DSP resource board market. Our position in this market, along with the hundreds of NMS application partners developed over the last 20+ years puts us in good stead as we move forward to address the challenges I mentioned earlier. It has been said that after a battle the dust will clear, and you need to look to who�s left standing to determine the winner. IT

Mike Katz is director of video products at NMS.

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