Last week Ovum attended Telstra's analyst day and was pleased to see its network transformation strategy evolving with IMS. In our view, the user-centric and access-agnostic characteristics of IMS will allow Telstra to orchestrate services in the network and deliver hosted unified communications (UC) and fixed–mobile convergence (FMC) services to enterprises.
A few years ago Telstra initiated a process of moving from a TDM network to an all-IP network, with its focus changing from product-centric solutions to user-centric services. Now, with its proposed IMS architecture, Telstra will be able to combine not only its two biggest networks (mobile and fixed) but also a whole series of separate platforms and infrastructure within them, and move on from network operations to service integration.
Telstra CTO Hugh Bradlow declared two years ago that the technology wasn't ready, but now he thinks it’s the perfect time. We agree that the technology is more mature, and embedding applications in the network can offer advantages such as improved resilience, presence information, better security and more convergent services.
Benefiting from video collaboration hype, Telstra's IMS architecture for enterprise will enable voice and video calling across multi-vendor platforms and multiple access networks, including fixed and mobile. Applications will include multimedia business services, presence, messaging and conferencing, with a unified bill, control and management.
Once fully-deployed, this will create a service delivery framework, making Telstra’s network more available to service partners and third-party applications and services.
The potential is huge, and the framework must be built on extensive hosting and data management. However, creating a complete partner ecosystem, defining the business models and offering a consistent set of ICT services is a massive task.
Regulatory pressure increased the urgency of Telstra implementing its IMS plans. With structural separation and a government-sponsored national FTTH network looming on the horizon, Telstra can’t rely on differentiating primarily on the basis of its access network assets.
A good way to maintain a competitive advantage will be shifting services value into the core. The IMS layered approach separates the services and application layer from the transport layer for better flexibility, allowing services to be device- and access-agnostic.
This will give Telstra the flexibility required to build its services proposition independently of the access network, and allow it to use either its own access assets or potentially those of future partners.
For enterprises, the value of IMS is in the enablement of highly integrated service ecosystems, providing services that would be too costly and complex to implement using either a traditional customer premises solution or a silo network-based one.
IMS allows multiple communication applications such as voice and videoconferencing and non-realtime applications to converge and be hosted in the network, and share common features such as presence, location, unified billing and management.
While Telstra already offers some hosted services such as hosted IP telephony (TIPT) and SaaS through its T-Suite, IMS will allow the telco to go a step further and deliver these services in a more convergent and efficient way.