RealTime IT News

New Microsoft SOA Targets Telcos

Microsoft announced a new service-oriented architecture today as part of its latest push into the telecommunications sector.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software vendor said the latest version of its Microsoft Connected Services Framework offers management of services across a wide range of networks and devices. The company is coordinating the launch of its new server software with the 3GSM 2005 conference in France this week.

The framework consists of a new server to manage common functions of service control and aggregation; common sets of interfaces and software logic for connecting to back end systems (based on TMF eTOM and SID standards); a Web services API for adding new services; and a software developers kit (SDK) and developer environment for building new services.

The problem, according to Terry McGuigan, product manager for Microsoft's Connected Services Framework, is that even with projected growth in new services, operators still risk being commoditized.

"What we are doing its combining different capabilities -- mobile, location, presence -- to provide new, non-traditional competition for billing and service relationships," McGuigan told internetnews.com.

Microsoft said it hopes to capture additional market share by helping wired and wireless carriers develop features and roll them out new combinations of services targeting specific customer segments faster than before.

"The solution is that the operator becomes somewhat of a 'Service Aggregator,'" Michael O'Hara, general manager of Microsoft's Service Provider Business, told internetnews.com. "This includes online retail providers. For example, you could have a company like PayPal instantly becoming a competitor to a wireless operator."

O'Hara added that because of its SOA, Microsoft's Connected Services Framework can allow for quick responses if a Web service is called to task.

"Let's say I have a mobile operator with coordinating with an Amazon.com Web service. If Amazon is not responding, then we can pull in a Web service from Barnes and Noble," he said.

Microsoft said the other benefit of its new Connected Services is that it works in conjunction with Microsoft' host of enterprise mainstays, including Microsoft BizTalk Server, SQL Server, Windows Server and Visual Studio .NET. The Connected Services Framework also lets operators bundle Microsoft services such as Microsoft Solution for Hosted Exchange 2003, the Microsoft TV platform and Microsoft Office Live Communications Server alongside operator-developed services, third-party services and content.

"Today, everyone talks about convergence, but telecommunications providers are still struggling to make this a reality," Maria Martinez, corporate vice president of the Communications Sector at Microsoft said in a statement. "They are faced with disparate networks, services that reside in silos and complex legacy back-office systems, factors that make it nearly impossible to quickly and cost-effectively deliver key services to their customers. The Microsoft Connected Services Framework addresses this problem by delivering the critical service creation, deployment and management capabilities that allow operators to unite systems through a common service-oriented architecture. In a rapidly evolving market, the Microsoft Connected Services Framework enables operators to prosper from change."

Already, Microsoft has signed British Telecom, Bell Canada and Celcom Malaysia to its latest offering.

BT said it is installing Microsoft's Connected Services Framework to provide Internet-hosted services such as e-mail, shared calendar and contacts and other apps to small and medium businesses.

Celcom Malaysia will use Microsoft's offering to offer new multimedia services and richer applications including instant messaging to multiple mobile devices.

Bell Canada said it is using Microsoft's SOA services to provide its internally developed applications and third-party services to small-to-medium sized businesses.