I recently had a chance to sit down with Andy Huckridge Director of Marketing, IMS Solutions over at Spirent Communications to discuss a variety of topics from the product line mix to thoughts on IMS. Spirent as you may recall went on an acquisition spree around the time of the telecom meltdown in 2001.
Since that time they have emerged as one of the strongest players in the testing market.
I asked about the current customer mix and Andy explained that 35-40% of customers are service providers. Ditto for equipment manufacturers. The rest of the company’s customers are enterpries.
I asked what 2007 will bring and Andy says he thinks 2006 was the year of hype for IMS and 2007 will be the year of RFPs. Andy says there are huge RFPs floating around the industry from the largest operators. Some are public he says and others are not.
He went on to say equipment vendors in general are going from providing generic IMS building blocks to providing services.
Spirent has specific test methodologies for testing these IMS services such as push to talk, presence, park and XDM (an OMA XML specification).
Huckridge went on to describe his view of IMS versus FMC. He described FMC as the wheels of the car and IMS as the car itself.
He believes FMC services are advancing IMS as they are the fist set of services out the door. “One is enabling the other,” he says.
He continued, “Service providers need revenue generating applications. Spirent has test plans for what we think will make money.”
Other services he mentioned were the fusion of WiFi, landline and cell phone calls.
From there we discussed the challenges of IMS which is of course the multivendor nature of the architecture. He explained this leads to non-synchronous software upgrade schedules which makes interoperability a challenge.
He went on to explain that the world is evolving from a few hardware providers such as Nortel, Lucent and Ericsson to numerous service providers who have custom SIP stacks. The need for interoperability is as great as ever but interconnectivity challenges persist.
This worries the large carriers for obvious reasons. He continued by saying IMS is going to make interconnecting between carriers two orders of magnitude more difficult than SS7 and ISUP. Expect to see Spirent coming up with test plans to deal with these issues and more to help the world transition more smoothly so as to take advantage of the benefits of IP multimedia subsystem solutions.

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