Exploiting verticals with IMS – news from the IMS WF
IMS has a history as a single, consolidated core for session and service control but this view is shifting due to continued evolution in the approach of operators to new and existing markets. At this year’s IMS WF, a new perspective emerged, in which more attention was paid to the need to align IMS evolution with the needs of different vertical markets, such as B2B.
At this year’s IMS World Forum there was much discussion of the gradual introduction of virtualised IMS solutions and cloud service delivery models, largely driven by the widespread deployment of VoLTE and it’s creeping adoption in each market in which it becomes available.
However, there was also widespread discussion of another topic: the need for vertical solutions to address the needs of different segments and different customer groups. Some speakers suggested that the needs of such groups cannot all be met from a single, unified infrastructure, because verticals often have very specific communications requirements. There are simply too many of these – and they have clearly diversified and grown over the last few years too much to allow the original vision of single platform to be insufficient to cater for everyone, particularly with new communications modes coming to the fore. Instead, dedicated vertical solutions may be the answer.
That’s interesting. Not only does it open the possibility that there may be separate, parallel session control solutions for emerging markets, such as M2M, but it also confirms the need for specialised solutions for traditional markets, such as business customers. A key point is that the vertical solution architecture proposed must support increased agility, enabled through specialised application functions.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that a complete IMS is required for each chosen market. What it does mean is that, while there can be some common infrastructure, there needs to be more differentiation at the service layer to enable a broader diversity of applications and services to be supported. Such an overlay can exist in parallel with core elements but provide separated service delivery and management functions. In essence, it’s not such a different concept from the suggestion that parallel Service Delivery Platforms (SDPs) would be required that was also discussed several years ago.
The difference is that the time is ripe for such innovation. In such an environment, the operator can separate its consumer services from its B2B and M2M portfolio, focusing on what matters for each market. Thus, for consumers, the best experience and the ability to access both operator and third-party services matters. The same applies for M2M, as networks evolve to support the expected diversity of services. But for B2B, there is strong agreement that operators are better placed to support a portfolio of services to meet the needs of business customers, with the levels of service quality and performance that they demand.
And that’s what these suggestions indicate – by focusing on different markets in this way, operators can be more agile in how they deliver to their chosen customer bases. For example, in the B2B context, they can deliver a range of offers with the dedicated infrastructure to ensure that they meet expectations, while other infrastructure provides the focus for other markets.
We saw the emergence of this some time ago, with the deployment of our solutions on the core IMS but with dedicated AFs to ensure their separation. Certainly, they leverage common assets, but the application framework and domain is separated from consumer or other offers. This provides the means to more rapidly support their evolution and extension with new capabilities or through integration with other parallel services delivered to the same communities. It promotes agility and allows an operator to more easily manage a portfolio of services targeted at a market which, in turn, can be segmented further.
IMS is clearly having a significant impact but it continues to evolve. As operators seek to more effectively address current and new markets, and as they strive to become more agile, the B2B AF has a key role to play. If you want to learn how to add B2B services to your IMS infrastructure and to provide a platform for future service evolution and innovation, why not talk to Gintel?