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Saturday, November 12, 2005

Is IMS for Real?


IMS is collection of carrier network functions that promises a future where their networks will be able to offer an dizzying array of services and applications. IMS, at the same time offers these carriers the same level of access control that they are used to today.

While the architecture is evolving, there are already solutions from various vendors (who also happen to sell a lot of gear to carriers) that offers a taste of the IMS vision: POTS.

IMS vendors make a big deal that they chose SIP as the signaling protocol, but all their focus is on POTS.

I poked around a few IMS call flows. They basically take a 600 odd bytes signaling message that travels between a SIP user agent and a proxy (offering a service) and turn it into 4000 odd bytes of Record-Route headers, P-Charging-Vectors, and mystical GUIDs added to it. No new functions except that there are two more boxes inspecting and serving the "user". Kiss 3261's Bob and Alice flows goodbye!

Thankfully, all this is very complex and unrealistic and will take a long time to bake. I am fairly certain IMS will be a distraction since it will fail to create any new applications that will appeal to consumers.

The carriers and their vendors will burn away billions of shareholder equity while the real innovation will continue outside such standards bodies.

In the meantime, if you get the IMS itch, scratch a bit, but always remember Little Red Riding Hood.

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