RealTime IT News

BEA To Target Telco Web Services

BEA Systems Monday will unveil a new software platform that lets communications providers use Web services to improve the way they serve customers, internetnews.com has learned.

The BEA WebLogic Network Gatekeeper will help developers write software that facilitates safe messaging, calling and billing services, according to a document obtained by internetnews.com.

"The product provides a single point of entry into the network to define and enforce policies for accessing key network enablers, such as user status, user location, and short message service (SMS), multimedia message service (MMS)," according to the document.

At a launch event introducing the product in February, BEA CTO Mark Carges called the Gatekeeper a kind of "traffic cop" designed to guard network resources, allowing carriers to manage access for network resources by enforcing user access policies.

The idea of the platform is to help service providers offer Voice over IP (VoIP) and RFID services.

A set of Web services interfaces, which the company calls Telecom Web Services, form the core of the Gatekeeper, according to the BEA document.

The interfaces are standardized through the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA), Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and The Parlay Group, a consortium of fixed and mobile operators and software and platform vendors.

BEA officials have said the market for service delivery software for telcos is expected to be about $250 million in 2005, with the potential to balloon to single-digit billions by 2008.

ZapThink analyst Jason Bloomberg said the choice of a telecom offering for Web services is timed well because many carriers are actively building out services for both their landline and mobile customers.

The Gatekeeper is the first deliverable from BEA's WebLogic Communications Platform (code-named Project Da Vinci), a software suite to help service providers lure new and keep existing customers. The Gatekeeper works with BEA WebLogic Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) application server, the other key component of the communications platform.

With the Gatekeeper and SIP server, the San Jose, Calif., company believes it can cash in on the promise of Web services by increasing the average revenue per user with services, such as VoIP, RFID, conferencing, gaming and instant messaging.

To that end, Bloomberg said the SIP support is particularly interesting, because it opens up new realms of possibilities, both within the telecom world and beyond it. SIP is an application-layer protocol that allows the two participants in an exchange to agree on a set of compatible media types, much like modem negotiation.

These capabilities may endear it to telcos looking to construct sophisticated service-oriented architectures (SOA), he said.

"By supporting SIP, BEA both addresses short-term requirements of their carrier customers, as well as positioning itself well long-term as SIP finds broader acceptance in the enterprise marketplace," Bloomberg said.

BEA faces stiff competition in the push to woo telecommunications carriers from HP, IBM and Microsoft. But the company is well entrenched within the telco space. Wireline and wireless companies have used BEA's WebLogic application sever and Tuxedo e-commerce server to build applications.

In fact, all of the Global 50 communications service providers run portions of their operational support systems on BEA.