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Irony of the Service Delivery Platform Paradox

Broadband service providers (BSPs) will be investing billions of dollars over the next five years on service delivery platforms (SDPs) in order to bring the benefits of on-demand IP services to their wireline and mobility customers, according to Insight Research.

SDPs are computing and software platforms that support emerging standards such as IMS and SIP while continuing to inter-work with legacy protocols. According to the study, SDP adoption by carriers will facilitate the delivery of on-demand telecommunications services by integrating network element performance with critical business processes.

Functionally, these SDPs will enable the adoption of a service-oriented architecture (SOA), making it possible to reuse individual service components in order to quickly build a new complete service offering, as well as to separate the creation and execution of new service applications from the underlying network.

"These platforms will loosen the knot that ties network elements to business processes, thus increasing carrier flexibility when it comes to the Business Support System (BSS) and service creation, which should translate to quicker time to market for new services," says Robert Rosenberg, President of Insight Research.

"This loose coupling of business processes means that carriers will also be able to work more efficiently with their business chain partners," Rosenberg concludes. However, I wonder if monolithic enterprise software vendors can develop the flexible and scalable platforms that service providers need the most, to compete cost effectively.

Many of the legacy OSS/BSS vendors have traditional business models, and associated pricing strategies, that precludes them from providing modular open-platforms that are inherently built for process agility. In fact, big expensive platforms have plagued the telecom sector for many years.

Ironically, some of the smaller vendors in the SDP sector have already been acquired by larger software vendors that have engulfed the nimble player into a corporate bureaucracy that tends to reduce their speed and dexterity. Moreover, these small modular elements are then tightly integrated into the existing bigger new parent company platform.

It's an interesting paradox, because several industry analysts have already expressed concerns about vendor implementations of IMS that are based upon architectures that seem to mimic the shortcomings and mistakes of legacy closed-platform OSS/BSS solutions.

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