The IMS GPS
Navigation. That is the one word that seems to be the most appropriate for what I need to help IMS decision makers with this issue. The reason for my focus on navigation is that the market is becoming more challenging to understand and figure out. Part of the reason for this is the sheer number of announcements that are IMS related. In addition there is a bit of confusion over what I wrote about last month – Advances in IMS or A-IMS. People are trying to wrap their heads around what A-IMS might mean to the industry. Even more recently another announcement came out from a group of leading mobile operators who are promoting the Next Generation Mobile Networks initiative. This will focus on technologies such as WiMAX and the group hopes to leverage its sizable influence to put forth its recommendations to telecom equipment manufacturers who will be supplying NGN handsets and infrastructure. The group is inviting handset, core and radio access equipment vendors to join NGMN as affiliated members.
Part of the reason for this initiative is the group feels 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 be the result of the NGMN’s efforts.
Speaking of standards the IMS Forum has been very busy since the 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 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.
It 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 that the delay may not hurt them if they are quick to start promoting their new products. I expect to see Ixia gaining some share in this space as well. The reason is that Empirix seems to own dominant IMS mindshare today and there isnt yet a strong number two testing player.
The trend towards larger and larger IMS announcements continues. In fact recently Flextronics Software Systems has announced its Diameter IMS solution. The new product is geared toward telecommunications 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.
This new product 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
To give you an idea of what other large players are trying to get a piece of the IMS pie witness the fact that distribution giant EMBARQ Logistics (formerly Sprint North Supply) and Sonus Networks 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 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 he moment is the rush by vendors to label all of their existing equipment IMS-ready. It reminds me of the early days of the Internet where you could even find an Internet-ready UPS.
Obviously it is still early in the market’s life and companies that are just repackaging old products and using 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, Fl. 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.