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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

IMS confusion

(8 DAYS TO GO! IMS Insider online survey - "Key Issues in developing IMS-based Converged Services". To participate go to: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=680211758609 It takes 15 minutes. Participants - only - will get a FREE copy of summary results. Survey closes on 23rd March.)

(IMS Insiders' Future Services workshop, 6th April, Thistle Hotel, Heathrow Airport: "Best Practice Strategies and Tactics for Success in an IP-based converged world". For more details, do to www.ims-insider.com)

We're delighted to have Christophe Gourraud from Swisscom Mobile presenting a stimulus piece at the IMS Insider/Moriana strategy workshop on 6th April where he'll cover migration strategies and tactics. I've just edited a superb article by Christophe for the 'Soapbox' section of the IMS Insider monthly Report (available to subscribers next week. See www.ims-insider.com) on Creating an Effective IMS Application Layer.

He describes how to apply the 3GPP IMS specifications effectively to enable a concept he describes as 'User Profile-based Service Routing'. This essentially delivers many of the promises that IMS has been built up for. However, few are adopting it at present, mainly due to confusion of how to do so. Christophe will explain how (and why) at our workshop!

I asked him to describe a bit more the cause of the confusion around IMS today. Here's what he said:

"The confusion around 'early IMS' is partly natural as it's new thing but also partly artificial. The artificial part revolves around the huge hype surrounding IMS, and the impact of this hype on the industry.

Confusion No. 1: The first confusion that arose surrounded the actual definition of what an IMS core network is, and its differences with a non-IMS SIP solution. Some NEPS and key VoIP players who did not see IMS coming fueled this confusion to 'spike' their competitors who were ahead of them. One high profile vendor even publicly questioned the relevance of IMS, compared to a simpler IETF [Internet Engineering Task Force]-based implementation. I think we are mostly past this phase, but some fixed operators having selected a VoIP solution might have surprises when aiming at eventual IMS compliance.

Confusion No. 2: The second confusion relates to the application layer, and the desire of some vendors to position their pre-IMS products into the IMS sphere. There are two main groups there: suppliers of SDPs who are mainly circuit-switched and voice centric, and suppliers of early VoIP services. Both groups contributed a voice-centric vision of IMS. Participations to conferences, white papers, the first major reports on IMS, and some tutorials on IMS were used to get their messages across.

This voice-centric vision of IMS is part of the story, but it should not eclipse a more progressive perception of IMS. I think (hope) that the zenith of this phase is past us, as it was the source of a lot of (irrelevant and misleading) IMS questioning, such as that voiced by the proponents of pre-IMS SDPs ("Can IMS really provide as good voice services as circuit switched?") or by the first journalists/analysts who swallowed the objections of the OSA/Parlay supporters and questioned the relevance of IMS.

Confusion 3: Another threat is related to IMS suppliers (some NEPs) who are starting to see the extent of the danger IMS will eventually pose to their application layer product portfolio (not only around IN and OSA/Parlay, but also messaging, PoC, and the whole service layer business, which may open to new IT-centric entrants). Such players have an interest in further "telecomizing" the IMS application layer the same way the IMS core network has been."

More on this anon...

The Editor, IMS Insider

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