Adoption of IMS involves a quantum leap in terms of technologies, business processes and partner relationships. Again, there are apprehensions about the readiness of IMS components in terms of their fidelity with the promised IMS features. These apprehensions, coupled with the promises have built a tantalizing suspense around IMS. The fact is that, the progression of time has done nothing to diminish this suspense. Unfortunately this suspense does not augur well for the market at large. The market is witnessing an overnight transformation of existing product lines of telco vendors to IMS-ready or IMS-compatible ones. Such developments fuel doubts and apprehensions in the minds of telcos about the real efficacy of IMS.
Over the last 3-4 years, telecom companies have been on the lookout for a foundation that can allow them to freely pick and choose the services they want – the Service Delivery Platform (SDP). The SDP interfaces with the network elements, OSS/BSS, telecom IT infrastructure and partners such as application developers and content providers.
SDPs can be loosely defined as a standards based framework that facilitates the design, development, implementation and management of services required to run the operations of network services providers. The services could range from the basic voice connectivity to the state-of-the-art rich multimedia services. The most critical value-addition offered by the SDP methodology lies in its ability to abstract controlling parameters such as location, media control, integration and others.
The SDP interfaces with the following entities:
- End users
- Network elements
- OSS and BSS
- Content creation ecosystem
- Services creation ecosystem
Consequently, the SDP must by-and-large contain the following components:
- Service Creation Environment (SCE): As the basic aim of SDP is to facilitate service development, it is unsurprising that the SCE finds a prominent place in the scheme of things. As the name suggests, the SCE provides the environment for development of services that differ in complexity and architectural design. The services could range from simple plug-ins to complicated metadata driven application modeling.
- Service Execution Environment including functions such as Media Control and Presence/Location. Rich multimedia applications find location and presence as the key contexts to deliver customized services to the customer. For example, various Points of Interest (POI) such as cinemas, shopping attractions can be dynamically presented to the user based on the physical location of the user. The advent of SIP for Instant Messaging and Presence Leveraging Extensions (SIMPLE) is driving presence architecture developments such as client-server models.
- Service Integration: Integrating the SDP with the network infrastructure, partners and telecom back-end forms the brief of the integration component. SOA is the preferred SDP integration methodology.
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