Published: 17 February, 2012
Carriers' moves to all-IP networks should have created a boom in uptake of IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem), the platform which supports delivery of key operator services over IP. But the 'year of IMS' has been a long time coming, mainly because of the complexity of deploying the full system. Two providers of telco IP gear, Acme Packet and Broadsoft, are joining forces to address the issue.
The two firms have announced IMS Express, which provides many of the elements of the platform in a pre-integrated and pre-tested way. The offering is built around the Net-Net SIP Multimedia-Xpress (SMX) from Acme Packet, the market leader in the session border control (SBC) segment. This combines a full IMS session management capability with the SBC in a single product to reduce cost and complexity. Notably, the level of signalling between different IMS elements is much reduced.
This is integrated with BroadSoft's core communications platform, BroadWorks (plus its cloud-based version BroadCloud) which has evolved from the VoIP market to support a wide range of communications services such as Voice over LTE, RCS, unified communications and collaboration.
There will still be some IMS elements, such as the home subscriber server, which need to be sourced outside this partnership, and the firms will be working with partners to ensure an integrated platform. But combining a large number of the components of an IMS and pre-testing them should slash the time to deployment, and reduce reliance on system integrators. In addition, the two companies claim their system scales to mass market subscriber numbers, lowers cost of ownership.
It supports the range of communications services which cellcos will harness as they move their vital apps, like voice and messaging, to LTE, while seeking to continue to differentiate their services from those of over-the-top providers even in the IP world. A few flagship carriers like Verizon, mainly in the CDMA world, are rolling out fully blown IMS systems but a more common pattern is for cellcos to have implemented the system in a very limited way and to be continuing to rely on 3G for voice. Some will even decide to go the over-the-top route themselves and avoid IMS altogether, but as LTE moves to the heart of mobile strategies, the majority of carriers in developed economies will embark on full IMS roll-out within one to three years, Rethink research indicates.
Offerings which make that process easier and less costly will be important, though Acme Packet knows it will have to go head-to-head with the big infrastructure players if it wants to enhance its role within tier one cellcos, moving from the SBC to full IMS.
"Service providers are looking to build revenue generating applications using the IMS architecture, but many IMS solutions have been too complicated and costly to operate," said Andy Ory, chief executive officer, Acme Packet. "Through our joint solution with BroadSoft, IMS Xpress includes a fully-interoperable service that allows for rapid deployment of new services in a cost effective manner."