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Innovation

Reflections: Michael Crossey, Aepona

I think the industry understands the need for seamless interoperability, but it is limited by existing proprietary infrastructure. -- Michael Crossey, vice president of marketing, Aepona
Written by Staff , Contributor

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Michael Crossey, vice president of marketing, Aepona, says value-added solutions and productivity services will be less compelling for business users if they can't access the same services as they roam across networks, across national borders.

Q. What do you foresee as the three hottest trends or technologies in 2007?
Aepona believes that 2007 will be the year of telecom Web Services. Telecom Web Services is all about bringing the highly successful Internet service innovation model into the telecoms world, and leveraging IT/enterprise software concepts such as Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) to enable controlled exposure and exploitation of telecoms network assets. We believe that Telecom Web Services is the key to unlocking the power of the telecoms network, and will be a vital weapon in the battle between facilities-based network operators and new, non-infrastructure players such as Skype, MSN and Google.

Telecom Web Services gives third-party application developers and enterprises access to telecoms resources and functions such as call handling, location, presence, messaging and charging. This allows operators to fully monetize their assets, moving beyond traditional business models such as charging only for call minutes, towards charging for access to a broader range of network capabilities.

Business transformation through Telecom Web Services is also realized through a new way of delivering services: instead of developing, implementing and hosting services solely by themselves, network operators can combine home-grown services with those hosted externally by partners, all delivered through a common service layer framework.

I think the industry understands the need for seamless interoperability, but it is limited by existing proprietary infrastructure.

The concepts of Web Services and SOA have been around in the enterprise/IT domain for some years now, and the Parlay Group has more recently defined a set of telecoms-specific Web Services under the Parlay X specifications. However, we believe that the key to extending the success of Web Services into the telecoms domain lies in a Web Services framework that encompasses not only the definition of the relevant Web Services themselves, but also how to achieve massive scalability, automation, efficient use of platform resources, security, management, policy control and carrier-grade performance.

Name one issue that you think the industry should collectively work harder to address? Why?
Customers are driving demand away from proprietary technologies and toward open, standards-based technologies that can talk to and work with other parts of an increasingly complex network. In the telecoms industry, this interoperability will provide a consistent experience for the roaming user. Value-added solutions and productivity services will be less compelling for business users if they can't access the same services as they roam across networks, across national borders. I think the industry understands the need for seamless interoperability, but it is limited by existing proprietary infrastructure. The Bridge Mobile Alliance is an excellent case study for what can be accomplished when operators come together and work towards interoperability.

Name one technology past its time.
In today's context, any closed technology that cannot talk to or work with other technologies will not be around for much longer. Business as a whole is no longer linear, and technologies that only work in a vertically-integrated, tightly-coupled stack, will quickly become irrelevant in an increasingly interconnected, converged world. One such example is the traditional IN (Intelligent Network) stack, whereby services are tightly coupled with network platforms, which are in turn tightly coupled with access technology, which is in turn tightly coupled with specific types of terminal. We are increasingly seeing a decoupling of these layers, and a move toward a common services layer which is connected to, but independent from, a converged IP transport, access and control layer. Even within the common services layer, we are increasingly using the term "loosely coupled" to describe how service components or modules will communicate and connect with each other in a SOA.

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