by Ninad Mehta
IMS delivers enough benefits and value that most wireline and wireless service providers will adopt it, according to a recent report by Yankee Group. Going back to our discussion 2 days ago, SPs in developed countries will start deploying IMS architectures in their networks within the next 1-2 years. The wireline carriers in the developed countries will see a strong need to deploy IMS as they plan to introduce fixed/mobile convergence services using partner SPs. Most Tier 1 NAR SPs (Verizon, SBC, BS, AT&T, Sprint) are either doing trials using IMS or deploying IMS in their networks as this is written. Tier 1 SPs in Europe (BT, DT, FT, Telefonica-x) are all also busy in doing market trials or deployments. Wireless carriers in developed countries are taking IMS very seriously as well most of them have a lab or field trial going on and some have started deploying IMS within their networks.
Carriers in developing countries are still focusing on increasing teledensity and so they havent spent as much time and resources on IMS. This is changing as the government policy in several countries dictates that any infrastructure spending should be restricted to next generation infrastructure technologies.
On the supply side of IMS, the Telecom Practice arm of Venture Development Corporation classifies next generation infrastructure vendors in the following categories: (1) Enabling technology and components providers, (2) Network component providers, (3) System vendors, (4) 3rd Party application service providers and (5) System integrators.
This classification builds from bottom up and includes established as well some newer niche players.
According to a report by the Yankee Group, with respect to IMS components, most telecom equipment vendors have chosen to develop IMS core components (within the control layer) themselves and partner with niche providers for IMS components that belong to various gateways and application servers. Since IMS architecture is built upon well defined, standards based interfaces; theoretically, any vendors IMS component should work other vendors components. In reality, things would be quite different! I am sure system integrators and services providers are salivating at the revenue opportunity in putting things together.
Another important aspect of IMS supply side vendors is that non-traditional telecom vendors show up on the list of vendors providing various IMS components. These vendors have been historically associated as computing infrastructure providers. Examples include HP, IBM, Intel and others. There is a natural fit between blades based computing using ATCA (Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture) and distributed IMS components.
Over time, we will see IMS vendor consolidation since the market is already crowding up with numerous suppliers for each of the IMS components. We will also see consolidation within and between wireline and wireless service providers.
[Ninad Mehta works at Lucent in New Jersey. The views expressed in this column are his own.]