SOA-based offering promises to cut multimedia services costs

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A Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) software product developer and a service oriented architecture (SOA) provider are jointly developing tools aimed at lowering the cost of multimedia services deployment.

The integrated offerings will also enable telecom service providers and mobile device developers to accelerate product rollout, according to Ottawa-based Atreus Systems Inc. a supplier of provisioning software for Internet-based communications and BEA Systems Inc. of San Jose, Calif. said.

The two companies, which announced an alliance earlier this week, said they would employ two key tools:

• Liquid Services Framework (LSF), an SOA-based service delivery system from BEA, will be used to develop IT interfaces for traditional telecom carriers;

• Atreus xAuthority, an IP provisioning tool, will provide a carrier-grade operations support system (OSS) that enables developers to automate the activation of multiple IP services ideal for business, consumer and hosted applications.

Several telecom providers have invested heavily in voice telephony systems, and need help developing IP-based services, according to Chris King, senior director for worldwide telco markets, BEA Systems.

He said the biggest orders today are for IP oriented services that require speed and bandwidth. “However, most telco systems are not designed for this.”

LSF, King said, is the ideal system for bridging this gap. “Liquid services will tie the old world to the new.”

According to King, telecom engineers have unique skills but not many of them are familiar with IT concepts.

The SOA features inherent in LSF, he said, provides “modules of code that turn into understandable interfaces for “telecom IT personnel and programmers.

xAuthority provides a set of tools to enable developers to create applications and composite IP services, according to Ken Workun, director, business development, Atreus Systems.

“The concept is to allow the interconnection of various services so we can eliminate islands of information.”

Using xAuthority, developers can create “seamless” instant messaging, video and VoIP services, he said.

For instance, in a proof-of-concept project, Atreus and BEA developed a unified messaging system that connected short message service (SMS) to a home security system.

Homeowners could enter the house by punching a specific code number on a security key pad. Each occupant had his or her own code.

The system was configured to send a text message to inform parents that their children had entered the house.

Workun said other possible services could include connections between VoIP devices and IP-enabled TV units. For instance, an IPTV viewer can receive instant alerts from the television screen whenever a call is received on his phone.

One Canadian telecom industry expert said carriers will benefit from the Atreus-BEA offering if it can deliver on the promise to shorten deployment time and allow telcos to reuse existing networks.

“Telcos have invested heavily in networks and if they can reuse such parts as backbone components and just add applications and provisioning software that will result in big savings,” said Roberta Fox, principal of Fox Group Telecom Consulting Inc. in Mount Albert, Ont.

She said time to deployment costs have often plagued telecom carriers.

It usually takes one to two years to develop services and products in the telecom world, but the estimated lifespan of these products are about eight to 10 years.

On the other hand, information technology products are developed from six to nine months on average, but only have a lifespan of one to three years.

“It will be interesting to find out how much faster the products can be developed with this alliance,” she said.

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