By Peter Lambert
Efforts to set a global business transactions framework for next-generation services advanced significantly over the past few weeks with the IPsphere Forum’s initiation of a next phase of specifications that embrace content, hosting and other companies beyond network operators.
This move comes as a key new member, NTT of Japan, adds potentially important clout to the forum’s activities. Other tier-one network operators in the forum membership include AT&T, British Telecom, France Telecom, Korea Telekom, T-Com, Telefonica, Telenor Telstra, Telus and Verizon.
According to IPsphere Forum chairman Kevin Dillon, the forum’s Session Services Resource Management specification “is about to go to final ballot and extends the operation of IPsphere into mobile and fixed/mobile convergence.” The initial “Foundation Specification” released in June 2007 focuses on interfaces and processes required to orchestrate service delivery across multiple network operator transport and access infrastructures.
Now, Dillon says, the forum has undertaken a new initiative to build on those “horizontal” relationships among network operators with a next specifications release that will focus on “vertical partnerships.”
That release will add content and other non-network elements, such as hosting elements, identity elements and DRM elements, to the network access and transport elements specified in earlier releases – all representing “cooperating elements” and stakeholder companies within the IPSF Framework.
“Supply chain stakeholders therefore include content and other non-network service providers, as well as network operators,” Dillon explains. “The vertical partnership work underway is key to enabling content stakeholders – aka Hollywood – to benefit from and contribute to IPsphere-enabled services. This work has been influenced by the content community, and we anticipate more formal involvement, including, but not limited to, IPSF membership, from this community as our vertical partnership work advances.”
The resulting next phase of the framework would provide hooks for all stakeholders to establish collaborative controls for ensuring end-to-end quality of experience for end users consuming their services. “We see the work of IPsphere evolving to address the needs of consumers – for example, how high-value content can be delivered flexibly as high-quality service experiences,” says Dillon.
He adds that several network operator members “are already looking to sponsor their key content partners into our pre-commercial trial activities.”
The IPSF Reference Implementation Working Group is now engaged in private pre-commercial implementation and trial work. IPSF also anticipates “public demonstrations based on this to take place through ‘08 and into ’09,” Dillon says.
Further, IPSF is collaborating with the Multi-Service Forum (MSF) to showcase IPsphere mechanisms as part of the GMI2008 demonstrations in October 2008. “All of these activities will showcase the extension of IPsphere framework into content and media via the first worldwide multi-provider premium services trials in the communications and/or content industries,” Dillon notes.
IPSF has established formal liaisons with not only the MSF, but also with the MFA Forum (renamed the IP/MPLS Forum in October), which is driving the convergence of ATM, Frame Relay and IP/MPLS technologies in the global telecom industry, and with the Tele-Management Forum (TMF), the telecom industry’s long established consortium for developing frameworks, guidelines and specifications for advanced operations and business support systems.
NTT attended the autumn quarterly plenary meeting of IPsphere Forum hosted by France Telecom in Dinard, France. “The IPsphere Forum has demonstrated a like-minded vision in its development of a universal framework for the next generation of services that benefits all stakeholders in the value chain, including the individual,” says Hiromichi Shinohara, associate senior vice president and executive director of NTT’s Information Sharing Laboratory Group.
“NTT are rapid innovators,” Dillon comments. “The relatively high demand density and other demographics that typify the Japanese online services market have created a very rich environment for service innovation, and NTT has been quite successful at building their expertise accordingly. Certainly, the IPsphere Forum is looking forward to NTT contribution of this expertise to our Service Provider Council, and to our pre-commercial trial activities.”
The next IPsphere Forum member meeting will be hosted by Huawei in Shenzhen, China, next January 15 through 17.