A false war, and being trapped in the 1980s: SIP Servlet versus JAIN SLEE, and legacy IN

Operators are stranded by a 25 year old operating system, their IN platform.  Imagine a web application developer trying to compete in today’s market using Windows 1 as its operating system!  Being stranded in the mid 1980s creates a surreal situation.  Unfortunately for operators their customers are living in 2009, and their expectations of service providers are increasingly shaped by services on the web, e.g. Google, Facebook, Twitter; and consumer equipment providers, e.g. Apple, Sony and Nintendo.  Even evolved IN products only pay lip service to IT and web based technologies, they do not enable operators to play a significant role in the emerging services landscape beyond connectivity.

The artificial war created between JAIN SLEE and SIP Servlet, has delayed decisions on how operators add value to the emerging services landscape.  SIP Servlet is generally used for VoIP service features and bought by the IT organization, while JAIN SLEE is bought by the network guys to solve a particular IN service problem.  So generally they’re not competing.  It’s not a battle between SIP Serlvet or JAIN SLEE, it’s a battle between action and inaction, and the ‘false war’ has prompted inaction. As evidence: the spend on legacy IN platforms is still greater than the total spend on next generation technologies.

Legacy is both a gift and a curse.  Legacy networks have enabled operators to create an impressive business that even in today’s economy is growing, for example the telecoms industry in Europe accounts for 3% of GDP.  But that legacy is a curse when technologies evolve in other industries so that the rules of service delivery change.  Just like IBM had to create a wrenching transition from its siloed ‘we build everything’ IT model, to an open innovation model; so operators must also address this change in their ‘we deliver everything’ service model, to an open service innovation model, as the change will happen far faster than most organizations can respond.

Change can only come from within, for some operators it will be a stark financial hole in the business model that prompts change, that so called ‘near-death’ experience.  Note the near-death experience only applies to the few that survive, most fail; IBM is an exception in its industry.  For other customer-focused operators, they recognize the large gap in their service innovation ability from their customer’s perspective, e.g. O2 Litmus.  And are adopting the processes and technologies to enable them to play a part in the emerging services landscape, by understanding developers’ needs, exposing capabilities, enabling service reuse, and leveraging their core voice assets by mashing them up with the web (see my IN returns article on some service examples).  Enabling them to share in the value created in the new service delivery landscape, and avoid becoming a pipe to the Net.

1 thought on “A false war, and being trapped in the 1980s: SIP Servlet versus JAIN SLEE, and legacy IN

  1. fram.myopenid.com

    I worked in a major EU operator and I agree that JAIN SLEE vs Sip Servlet isn’t a technology dispute and there is space for both in NGN SDPs, some vendors infact are providing both solution.
    As you correctly pointed out the real problem for network operators is inaction vs action strategy towards technology that will enable evolution of their service layer.
    I do not fully agree with the statement “the ‘false war’ has prompted inaction”, from my experience there are other factors that have a huge impact on the inaction/action scenario compared to the JSLEE vs Sip Servlets war.
    Here are a few:
    – not a clear business model for telco strong enough to push the decision power on the action side.
    – slow adoption of new technologies especially in the Network dept. (standardization procedures, costly vendor evaluation, etc… e.g. IMS)
    – NEP vendor are trying to delay IN replacement with IT products from IT vendors.
    – Network Dept. Engineering inside telco operator worried about IT technology/department entering the Network.
    – creating a SOA-like environment inside a EU big telco operator takes at least 3 years not due technical reason but for adapting to/converting internal processes.

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