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IMS Opens Doors for HP, Others to Tap All-Important Telecom Vertical


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March 08, 2006

IMS Opens Doors for HP, Others to Tap All-Important Telecom Vertical

By Robert Liu
TMCnet Executive Editor

Hewlett-Packard (News - Alert) isn’t always the first name that comes to mind you think of telecom equipment vendors. Often eclipsed by the likes of Nortel, Alcatel (News - Alert) and Lucent Technologies in terms of volume and market share, HP has long stood in the shadows when it came to helping network operators and service providers.
But with the ensuing onslaught of IMS-enabled services brought on by the IP Multimedia Subsystems standard, all that is about to change.
“Anything you can do with IMS, you can essentially do in a pre-IMS world. But how complex is it going to be and how much does it cost?” said Steve Dietch, worldwide marketing director of the OpenCall Business Unit at HP. Dietch serves as the company’s primary spokesman for IMS-related issues.
To be fair, HP isn’t exactly new to the telecom space. In fact, the telecom sector represents the largest vertical market for the entire company – quite a feat considering HP employs about 150,000 around the world. 
In the early 1980s, when carriers first began to off-load non-signaling operations from the core switch, the company (then Compaq) was the first to deliver the key off-switch, network nodes called Service Control Points (SCP) – essentially a database that resides on the SS7 network. It was also first to build an off-switch Home Location Register (HLR) – a predecessor to the OpenCall Home Subscriber Server (HSS) used in the IMS schema that HP soon plans to focus on in its marketing.
Of course, the ability of IMS to separate out the session control plane from the applications infrastructure opens the door for all IT companies, not just HP. IMS means traditional IT companies of all types stand to greatly benefit as applications based on modular building blocks no longer need to be tailored to cellular network-specific protocols (for example, riding along 3G324M).
“The session controls and the underlying network technologies were one monolithic structure. You needed to understand a lot of the session or switching fabric as an applications developer,” Dietch remarked.
So, to prepare for the oncoming telecom blitz, HP teamed with Macromedia last fall to get its army of developers to support the HP Service Delivery Platform. That’s not to say that thousands applications will get traction with network operators and service providers, Dietch explained. At the end of the day, each service provider will eventually find an applications suite that smells success (pardon the pun) that is characteristic to their respective subscriber base.
“Are we going to have thousands of applications? I doubt it. There will always be thousands of niche applications but will that have an impact on operator ARPU?” Dietch said referring to Average Revenue per User – a key metric for service providers.
But to get the ball rolling, Dietch recommends that customers first get their house in order through cost structure improvements and consolidation – what he likes to refer to as “de-silo-ing” the infrastructure. Once a customer has sustained an access-agnostic service environment, only then can they proceed to the convergence and innovation phases of services delivery.
“Jumping to IMS to reap all the benefits it offers is Fantasyland. Our belief is the service providers are on a journey. They are going to invest in evolving their infrastructure towards the full IMS vision --- and corresponding benefits such as business flexibility, enhanced user experience, increased revenue, and reduced costs. The key is make the right investments at the right time,” he added. 
Robert Liu is Executive Editor at TMCnet. Previously, he was Executive Editor at Jupitermedia and has also written for CNN, A&E, Dow Jones and Bloomberg. For more articles, please visit Robert Liu's columnist page.


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