The International Packet Communications Consortium as no more. The group, whose mission was to promote the deployment of IP-based telecom servicesvoice, video, and othersacross all delivery mediacable, broadband, wireline, and wirelesshas changed its identity, and late last month, became the IMS Forum.
Rather than abandoning its earlier mission, the organization has, in a way, expanded it. The rationale behind the IP Multimedia Subsystem architectureas defined by the 3GPP and 3GPP2is the creation of a fully converged system that can deliver any type of IP application over any type of network transport.
In pre-convergence days, each telecom applications was closely coupled to the technology that transported it. A software engineer designing an applicationinstant messaging, sayto work over the wired IP data communication network (the Internet), needed to understand a lot about session control and switching fabric to make that application work.
With IMS, those links are broken. Applications infrastructure, session management, and transport, are decoupled. Standards-based solutions take the place of proprietary protocols, and the delivery of applications becomes uniform across all delivery media, wireline, wireless, cable, or fiber.
EnterpriseVoIPplanet had the opportunity recently to speak with IMS Forum Chairman Michael Khalilian about the organization and its new, updated mission.
"Unfortunately, at this stage in the industry's development, wireless has its own perspective on IMS, cable has its own perspective of the IMS, broadband and wireline have their own perspective of the IMS," Khalilian said. Accordingly, one function of the IMS Forum will be to provide an environment for discussion and resolution of real-world implementation issues, such as interoperability and standards-based architecturesbut particularly in the application layer.
"The simplest answer to the question 'Who's the IMS Forum?' is, 'We're the application organization; we are looking at the certification and the interoperability of the elements of the applications.' We are application guys," he put it, succinctly.
The IMS Forum, which launched with approximately 25 member companies, consists of service providers, solution providers, systems integrators, and government agencies translating industry standards into revenue-generating services.
Indeed, revenuethe business side of all this convergenceis central to the focus of the IMS Forum. The holy grail here is "bundled services; a one-stop shop" that service providers can offer customers to offset falling revenues from conventional voice service.
"Consumers are demanding all of these different services of yesterday, with the services of today, and the enhanced services of the future. They all want everything in one place. And they want it now, and they want it cheap, and they want it to be high quality," Khalilian told VoIPplanet.com.
IMS holds out the promise of helping to make this vision (a full spectrum of IP-based applications and services delivered to a handset, PDA, set-top box, or other device) a realityif it's able to take hold and be implemented in a uniform and workable way.
The IMS Forum is determined to make it happen. By pooling the work of the standards bodies and interoperability testing groups in a central repository and "defining them"as well as offering their application expertise, it plans to spread the IMS gospel both within the industry and outside, to the consumer world.