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.

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