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IBM Enters IMS Race
[November 17, 2005]

IBM Enters IMS Race

TMCnet Wireless and Technology Columnist
IBM has thrown its hat into the proverbial IP Multimedia Subsystems (IMS) ring, introducing its own architecture to help telecommunications service providers to transition from circuit-switched PSTN-based networks to next-generation networks based on the higher scalability of packet-switched technology.

IBM’s IMS architecture is built upon its Service Provider Delivery Environment (SPDE) – an open standards-based framework introduced as early as 2002 and designed to give wireless and landline service providers the ability to roll out integrated voice and data services. Leveraging the SPDE framework, the new Service Delivery Platform (SDP) incorporates IBM’s expertise with service-oriented architectures (SOA) and Web Services using the IBM eServer BladeCenter T and CarrierGrade Linux computing platform. The IMS suite also includes integrated hardware and software components based on IBM’s Rational, Tivoli and WebSphere software lines, the company said in a press release.

The move comes as both hardware and software vendors jockey for position to capitalize on the burgeoning IMS market that is conservatively estimated $2 billion by 2008 and aggressively forecasted to reach over $14 billion by 2010. But even the most upbeat analysts like IDC don’t see commercial deployments until the 2006-2007 timeframe and Deutsche Bank research believes IMS gear isn’t expected to generate material revenue until the 2007-2008 timeframe.
What’s worse for IBM is the fact that IMS is generally viewed as an overall architecture rather than piecemeal components and many larger service providers have already made initial commitments on deployment. In that sense, IBM might be seen as a late entrant into the IMS race as vendors like Motorola and Lucent have ramped up their IMS marketing initiatives.
“We believe early IMS could be key in winning the fixed mobile convergence future,” wrote Brian Modoff in a recent report.
For its part, IBM said it is supporting this evolution with six new Telecommunications Solutions Labs (TSLs) worldwide to enable service providers to leverage IBM’s capabilities in research, systems and technology, software and consulting and implementation. The test labs located in Austin, Beaverton, La Gaude, Hursley, Montpellier and Beijing are available for prospective clients and several IMS proof of concept projects are currently underway at the labs.
“IMS is only relevant if it is directly contributing towards corporate fiscal and strategic objectives,” said Joseph Ziskin, Vice President of strategy and growth initiatives, IBM Telecommunications Industry.  “IBM’s IMS offerings enable revenue growth for service providers by delivering services to market quickly at a lower cost.”
Robert Liu is Executive Editor at TMCnet. Previously, he was Executive Editor at Jupitermedia and has also written for CNN, A&E, Dow Jones and Bloomberg. For more articles, please visit Robert Liu's columnist page.

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