IMS or Web Services: is there a Debate? IMS in a World of Web-Based Applications
Although IMS has been around for the last 7 or so years and may not be the panacea originally proposed, it can’t be discounted in the world of IP. Several of our customers in US SP have announced plans to deploy IMS as it will be an important platform for voice as well as other SIP-based applications. At the same time, we see increasing development of new innovative applications that don’t use SIP, but would benefit from the capabilities of an IMS control infrastructure. We need a framework that enables a feasible coexistence of both types of applications.There are the obvious market drivers driving the”IP Everywhere” mentality. These trends have caught IMS and are raising questions about the longevity of IMS:1. ubiquitous high-speed access2. handset evolution: screens and access3. interesting, relevant content and applications (2.0 applications, MySpace, YouTube)4. the prospect of a Google Phone and other disruptive innovationsJust a few years ago, we were upswept in the mantra”voice is the killer app.” After the telecom downturn and the many failed applications (e-wallet, MMS, etc.), how could we think any differently? Did anyone really want anything more from a mobile phone than voice and the occasional text message? IMS fulfilled the need of SIP-based voice services. It was the savior of an industry searching for ways to quickly and efficiently buildout networks and deploy applications. It allowed horizontal implementation rather than perpetuating dependence on a slow, vertical silo. Wow, IMS was it.Enter Generation Y. Enter the generation who pushed the boundaries, who changed the way we think about mobile applications and breathed life into the stale telecom market. This generation demanded more services, multi-tasking devices and quick innovation. It is also a generation with a short attention span and a high demand for”me.”And with that, web services seem to have usurped IMS. At once we rushed to create our Second Life avatar so we could extend ourselves into a virtual world. We voyeuristically peeped into You-Tube -and became addicted! We echo the diary of our lives on the pages MySpace. We blog; we Wiki. We communicate at an insatiable pace. Enter new players -the “œover the top” providers (Yahoo!, Google, YouTube, etc.) and the world of Web 2.0 killer apps. And we wanted all these things now, seamlessly moving from device to device or environments. With all the demand for the 2.0 services over IP, what happens to voice? What about quality of service? What about the investments made in IMS? We can’t expect service providers to systematically dismiss IMS networks-or voice services-while at the same time allowing the new over-the-top applications to consume all the available bandwidth. How can carriers deliver on the demand for mobile broadband without sacrificing quality of voice services or wallet share?Take a carrier like Verizon that was (and remains) heavily invested in IMS and has gone one step further in developing A-IMS (Advances to IMS). Yet they need to embrace web services to remain competitive in a tight market constantly struggling for customer retention and profitability. Used concurrently with web services, A-IMS provides the control hooks so when voice is used simultaneously, quality is maintained (SIP and non-SIP applications). Now receiving PowerPoint, video or any other file is not going to interrupt your call. Plus, the proposed architecture would allow mobile operators to continue running circuit-switched voice indefinitely, rather than being forced to rip and replace and immediately switch to IP and VoIP (which of course will cut deep into the pockets of the mobile carriers who don’t charge the typical one-rate of the VoIP vendors). They can then offer services when they are absolutely ready or when the current revenue model is exhausted.The A-IMS architecture provides a predictable experience and buys time to control the transition from current networks to the all-IP networks of the future. IMS will be a key ingredient in ensuring that fixed and mobile services of all kinds can work together. SIP and non-SIP-based applications will be treated equally. Additionally IMS provides end-to-end management for VoIP applications running over IP mobile networks, to ensure quality of service.While IMS might not be the total telecom network of the future, its coexistence with web services certainly is. Developers will continue to leverage this network for real-time interactive multimedia services, such as IMS-enabled IPTV, gaming, video conferencing and click-to-call with a standards-based, open architecture.