Notes from the 10th ICIN conference (2006, Bordeaux France)

By Warren Montgomery (wamongomery@ieee.org)

 

 

This is the 10th ICIN conference.  ICIN is held about every year and a half and always in Bordeaux.  Attendance is down from the peak years, when about 400 people came, but has been stable at about 220 attendees for the last 3 sessions.  The conference is selective, taking papers based on peer review of extended abstract and accepting about 60 out of 150 paper submissions.  One of the more interesting observations I heard was made during the program committee meeting before the start of the conference.  We were discussing ways to increase participation, especially among the innovators in internet and entertainment, when one of the long time members observed that this is still primarily a conference for carriers and their suppliers, and to the internet, cable, and entertainment industries, carriers are the enemy and technologies and architectures for carriers just things that could be used to clog up the network.  I believe there is a certain amount of truth in that and ICIN attracts a distinctively different crowd from the Pulver conferences. One indication of this is that the conference had two meeting rooms of different sizes and in spite of the fact that the program committee put sessions addressing new services and technologies in the larger room, many of the more traditional topics of session control and service programming attracted larger crowds in the smaller room.   With that said, it is always interesting because many of the key people responsible for designing and implementing services in carrier networks come and come prepared for in depth discussions.  Some of the themes of the conference include:

ICIN Keynotes

 

Reza Jafari (VC, chair of the international Advisory board)

 

Reza made some interesting observations to open the conference:

(Comment – the last one here is quite surprising given the number of people who have LOST jobs in the industry, but we all have a very local view.)

With that he introduced the 3 keynote speakers for the conference.

Mick Reeve (British Telecom) 

He presented two views of NGN:

 

We have always had a debate over the role of intelligence in the network.  Even in IP there is centralized intelligence.  (DNS, etc.)  Standards bodies have a consistent definition of NGN -- Packet transport, Mobility, end-to-end QoS.  The IMS fits this quite well

 

BT's view is 21st Century network is based on IMS (MPLS core, IMS intelligence, mobility and multiple services).  They have a somewhat radical view of replacing the PSTN with a packet service as soon as possible.  He claimed credit for being among the first to push IMS as a convergence architecture for everything, not just NGN. (Comment – I don’t know about this.  Lucent had people suggesting this in 1999 or 2000).  Places where there are gaps in IMS include: Evolution of the PSTN; Interconnection of NGNs, and the business model.  (Comment – I’d agree exactly on this set!)

 

He said that there is not enough demand to sustain large carriers on only “dumb” transport, therefore there is need for diversity and services. BT’s version of convergence is service convergence for the customer.  They believe in building them with reusable components and providing an integrated customer experiences.  The 3 drivers include speed to market, cost reduction and improved customer service.

 

What’s important about network intelligence – rapid service creation, but there is a danger that the focus must be more than just building the real-time service.  His view – because IN didn’t solve service deployment carriers didn’t really buy into it and allowed the vendors to build their own version of service creation.  That lead to incompatible SCEs and limited deployment.  Elements of network intelligence include re-use, personalization (presence, profiles, locations), flexibility for the future, real-time and non real-time capabilities.  You have to separate the network from the service. (i.e. build the service independent of the network technology)

 

He presented a BT architecture picture (standard IMS basically but has a PSTN Call server that connects through a side door to the IMS.)   He said that the gaps were:

 

He concluded saying that the “Dumb” network is a falicy – intelligence grows at the edge but also in the middle. The NGN model is a good one. IMS is a good start, but it’s high risk that we re-live the IN story.  The problem with hype is that when it burns out you through out everything, good and bad, and start over with the next hype.

Rod Randall (VC with Vesbridge Parners)

Rod started his career doing circuit design at Bell Laboratories, but went on through various positions to go into the Venture Capital area.  Why are VC’s interested in Telecom? – because that’s where the money is.  Where are the new opportunities? – “The second derivative” – where the acceleration of acceptance is the greatest.

 

Example, the internet:

(Comment – I think I understand the concept, though relating it to the mathematical concept of a derivative is a bit strained.)

 

What we should be looking at is “IN 2.0”, the equivalent of Web 2.0

 

IN 2.0 has a lot of this, but also utilizes core network intelligence.

 

He presented  A Network Carrol

 

 

Look at the first possibility.  Undreamed of bandwidth (Comment – well, I know of lots of people who dreamed of all the bandwidth a household could consume for every household in the US and proved it could be done 10 years ago.  Technology isn’t the limit, business is.)  Everything is driven by “winner take all” view of triple play. 

 

His vision is digital IP delivery replacing broadcast using an advertising driven business model (“apparently free to the user”). Very cheap storage is a huge piece of this.  In 2006 you can buy 1G of storage for 23 cents?  Exabyte” is soon to enter the literature.  Terrabytes of storage for $200 in the home within a few years.  Nothing every gets discarded.  Lots of new sources of content (Everything has a camera)  (Comment – there are people who have been digitizing their lives this way for some time and it raises lots of interesting questions about how to manage it.)

 

He said that people are mislead into thinking of broadband as a New Trillion Dollar Industry.

 

He described a great user generated video on the net “Epic 2014”, by Matt Thompson and Robin Sloan.  It visualizes the future according to Google.  Personalized news feeds created by search robots that make the original news sources unable to support themselves.  “Mass Personalization” makes advertising much more compelling to companies and customers.  Everything that’s bought begins with a search and has personalized real-time inserted ads.  (Comment – the trouble here is that some of us just don’t buy enough to be of interest to the advertisers)

 

TV is free on a pointcast basis, and bankrupts the original networks.  Telephony goes for free, which bankrupts the carriers, but they learn to operate in bankruptcy. “Mutually Assured Destruction” for telcos and cable operators.

 

But there is another possible future.  Telcos and Cablecos not only offer IPTV but get involved in Internet TV – adding intelligence in the networks to participate in the delivery of video and payment (QoS).  This could be paid by sponsors.  New applications that value the connection (i.e. provide revenue to the carrier for connecting the application to the consumer.)

 

“The stupid network is a stupid Idea  Invented by someone who didn’t own the network. (Comment – not exactly, it came from someone who at the time worked for AT&T, but I guess the message is more that the creators of that vision didn’t benefit financially from the network)

 

IN 2.0 – historically IN was about signaling, control, and management.  IN 2.0 has to include a 3rd dimension, “Content intelligence”.  (IM, parental control, security, Spam filtering, intelligent Content Delivery and Management, Fixed/Mobile convergence)

 

He presented fixed Mobile Convergence as a key application. His view is definitely a multi-mode handset and other devices – Global fixed/mobile roaming environment based on SIP. 

 

Another key is Intelligent content distribution – every song, artist, video, film ever recorded on demand.  Network distributes anything over DSL/Fiber from storage in the core.  Have to have intelligence to support storing content locally.  (Comment – his pictures look just like a 25 year old project done by the Naperville Bell Labs called Wideband Local Distribution (WiLD)).

Everything is controlled by intelligent policies that understand the consumer behavior, what is skipped, what is viewed, etc.  Policies control both billing but importantly work with advertising (Real time ad insertion).  (Comment – Customized advertising has been one of those things viewed as doable and desirable for a long time.  I have become skeptical both whether it’s desirable and sustainable, but again it depends on the behavior of the consumer).  Peer-to-peer networking is part of the picture as a way of increasing performance – get it from a peer instead of from the core, but still has the same policy controls on it.

 

To support real video involves a 1000X increase in bandwidth through the access networks if everyone has a different stream.  The solution has to include some management of this “Swarmcasting” – discovering that the same stream is going to multiple places and could be aggregated.  (Comment – yes, but it’s got to be VERY smart multicasting to be able to make the common pieces common while still supporting personalized Ad insertion and individual control).

 

Huge value of “Click through” (His example was that Google gets $100 for a click through on a search for “Asbestos attorneys”.

 

Hung Song (Samsung)

(Another Bell Labs Alum)  He was an architect for BellCore’s SCP in 1988. 

He started by commenting on the trouble with acronyms:

 

Most of his talk addressed a vision of Mobile personal Broadband Services in Korea

 

Korea means “Morning Calm” – shy, low profile, but things are changing.  48.5 Million people, very tech savvy.  Huge penetration of Fixed broadband (almost 80%, first in the world).  2 Mb/s – 100Mb/s service rates are available.  39 million mobile subscribers – Almost everyone except infants and seniors.  They are bringing seniors into the tech world with training as companies target them as a remaining growth market.  Korean mobile service still growing at 43% a year, but it’s all about data.  25% of KT’s revenue is mobile data, growing quite rapidly.  More SMS traffic (messages) than voice (Calls) (Comment, but I’m sure that voice dominates on bits and time)  The average is 5 SMS messages per person per day. 

 

He talked about a current IP TV service – T-DMB – Telecom broadcasting.  The service is based on “Free” subscription (advertising supported I think), 7 video, 13 audio and 8 data channels.  It has 500K subscribers.

 

Cyworld – combines “My space”, weblogs, mobile blogs.  10 times as many postings as downloads.  (Comment – that’s interesting.  Almost sounds like a write only memory?  Maybe he’s only counting download of broadcast content and not download of user generated posts)

 

WiBro “Wireless Broadband”.  This is their brand name for the service, with sponsorship of the Korean government.  Basis is mobile WiMax technology, compliant with IEEE 802.16e.  The service launches in 1 month (June 2006).  It is now in the second month of pre-commercial trial in Seoul, focused on downtown and college areas.

 

He showed an interesting video of people using the service on a bus)  Devices include a laptop card,  mobile windows device, etc.  User controlled services (people can determine what services they get from who and what the payment terms are).  They have “desktops” for PDA and laptop.  “Push to All” multi-media sessions.  The user can access T-DMB video. 

 

They see this as a step to “4G Service”. – One device for the whole world.  (Comment – how Ironic.  Is it an omen that I’m doing fine on my IP based laptop, but my supposedly global GSM phone won’t work here?)

 

A Dream without action is a Daydream, Action without a Dream is a nightmare, you need both.

 

Question (Olf Ollson, Ericsson) – what standards body works out the gaps in IMS?  Mick Reeve – OMA is most effective but has to be blessed by ITU.  (Comment – have to wonder how the others would have answered this)  Followup – theme of the session was we have to move fast, is this realistic?  Answer – nobody is moving fast enough.  Model of doing the standard first, then doing is best, but hard.  His view was CableLabs was the best at this, the best standards body in the world.)  Hung Song – Was part of a panel on this in March with CTOs of carriers and interoperability is a great way to do it.  CableLabs is good because they do the standards and interoperability testing both. Randall – look at RSS – nobody in standards created it, but it’s very successful (Reeve – yes, but it’s almost 10 years old)

 

Question Alan Lewis (Consultant) – Nobody addressed regulation (e.g. political censorship and child protection)  Randall – started by defining politics (Poly – many “tics” – blood suckers).  His response was more a warning to watch out for political processes, have to prevent those with agendas from using influence to force unsustainable models.

 

Question Jeff Johnson (University of Limerich)  How do you solve the problem of not having enough bandwidth to support peaks – is the focus ever increasing bandwidth or better management.?  (answer, both)

 

Question Huawei person – What really is the risk of “Reliving IN?” 

 

(Reeve) BT didn’t buy SCEs from vendors because there was little value in being able to create the logic quickly when integration took so long, so instead they let the vendors build and integrate the services.  A mistake because every one wound up unique.

 

Question (Person from George Mason University) – will service providers invest given uncertainties.  (Randall) – all carriers are deciding that they must be in IPTV even if they don’t know what that means.  (Reeve)  BT is going to do it but challenged the view that advertising is the major source of revenue.  Also some discussion on broadband wireless – he said that WiMax won’t beat a good fixed access structure if it’s there on cost.

 

Question  (person from Denmark) – do you mean it when you say change out the PSTN?  (Reeve) – they have a pilot program now in Cardiff, and plan on replacing the PSTN with an IP based structure within 5 years.  Realistically they may run switches up to 10 years.  The economics they see dictate replacing the PSTN as fast as possible.

 

Question – what do telcos do to survive – pipes only or value added.  (All) – have to be part of the delivery of services and add value to what goes over the pipes.

 

Session 1A, Challenges to IMS

Christophe Grunhend, swiss Telecom.

IMS is about bringing IP to telecom.  Telecom has a history of modifying imported technologies and protocols to suit it’s needs as it adopts them and SIP is unfortunately no different.   IMS is unfortunately being approached as modifying SIP for telecom and as a result focus is very much on sessions and calls.  You need structure, but ideally it’s transparent – forget about IMS, build your service and it works.

 

What needs to happen is that we need to offload SIP from Telcom prejudices.  His example was SIP event packages (Subscribe/notify) allowing many interesting things to be done that have nothing to do with sessions, but not well recognized).

 

Another concept was of the S-CSCF as an application level router connecting services in the network with services in the devices at the application level.  It allows applications to work across IMS domains (Carrier networks or regions of service)  To take full advantage of this he talked about augmenting the ITU spec for IMS to allow routing of SIP communications by the S-CSCF to be driven by profile information to allow user specific configurations of applications.

 

Real benefit of SIP is expanding the scope of what can be done –

 

His conclusion – IMS is too telco focused – reinventing the PSTN.  The risk is that others use the same architecture and technologies without the PSTN bias to out compete the telcos.

Ron Wojick (consultant to Personeta)  IN, NGN, IMS Déjà vu all over again?

 

Ron’s talk was basically along the lines of how we risk following the same paths as we did with previous services architecture, while making the world more complex with more intelligent elements to manage.  One interesting comment – IN built on SS7, and there were was a case for the infrastructure needed independent of services, anything that IN added was “gravy”.  With IMS, the infrastructure isn’t independently paid for and thus the business case requires that increase in revenue or decrease in cost pay for the deployment.

Nizo Mitra (Ericsson)

(Comment – yet another alumnus of Bell Labs.  I wonder what percentage of speakers share that and what the impact of the demise of Bell Labs as a common heritage for the leaders in telecom has on our industry)  His role most relevant here is as chair of the OMA work focused on mobility.  His message was on the importance of Social Software Applications as a driver of the new communication paradigm.  By that he meant things like Skype, Google, etc.  He talked about the standard operator paradigm.  You have a relationship with your operator who knows your devices and is responsible for interworking with others.  The alternative in the social networking applications is that the network is transparent and you network directly with your peers.  You are more in control.  Voice is an add-on to other things the service does for you. The value is in the social networking services.

 

Question – (Roberto Minerva) Is IMS a good response to competition like Skype?  Christophe – IMS is good, 3000+ people in a telco should be able to beat the 100 people in Skype, but our culture is pushing us in the worng direction.

 

Question  (Bernard Villian) – Is there a real threat from Skype and Google or are these just getting new subscribers willing to tolerate low quality for “free”.  (i.e. would a business use these services as a replacement for telephony?)  (Comment – nobody raised this at the time, but I firmly believe that this is NOT the case.  Skype is gaining traction for internal communication in Personeta because it is better than the PSTN.  Broadband voice, easy conferencing, presence status, and it does a good job with echo management, better in many cases than a PSTN conference bridge.  Skype has another odd benefit which is that it forces the user to use it from a PC with broadband connectivity so on Skype you don’t get someone calling in on a mobile in a noisy environment with no access to reference materials)

Session 2B – Presence services

M. Sanmateu (Deutsch Telekom)  Extended Presence Services

 

The Extended Presence Concept:  aggregate context information available from the user and carrier into one concept.  Their EPS is a server that provides service creation based on aggregated presence.  The server uses XML based encoding of presence information with Web Services/SOAP interfaces. EPS has a layered structure that looks a bit like TappS.  They have a rule manager that integrates the presence attributes with the services and controls synchronization among different services.

 

A lot of what she discussed was user management of presence aggregation, respecting the reality of being mobile and having multiple presence profiles.  Idea is user signs on and adopts a profile which then supplies the proper integration of the user’s presence and context.  (for example, a conference protocol which provides availability only for critical communication and limits media types as appropriate).

 

EPS functions as a presence broker, interfacing to many carrier networks and devices. She talked about the uncertain world of standards for integrating and sharing presence and identity today.

G. Le Bihan (Alcatel) – Data localization and generation for telecom networks.

IMS is the most important architecture to Telcos now, but IMS greatly increases the number of smart elements that have data.  Management and provisioning of data in all these elements is a key problem.  Subscriber data must be spread over multiple nodes.

 

Another new factor – end user provisioning of data.  This makes it harder to prevent errors.  Two options have been proposed:

 

Data architecture is key to IMS.  Database technology is becoming the incontrovertible choice for a basis for doing this. 

F. Provenzale (Telecom Italia)  Presence – Key and Snag in Convergent Services

He started by recalling the large number of papers on presence based services in ICIN 2003.  (Comment – I think I was one of those presenting one, though that may have been my Lucent paper in 2001 that I did not have a chance to present)  Now people are building presence based services, but there are snags. 

 

He started by reviewing the standards activity – in summary, too many and very inconsistent.  Problems created by need to be open (need to be able to exchange information across different domains and different architectures)

 

He talked about a lot of the challenge is integrating presence from multiple sources and in exchanging presence between applications  Lots of the challenges are intra-carrier – interworking between incompatible systems in a carrier.

C-Oesthus  (University in Norway) Context Based Call Changes using SIP

He presented a concept of context based call forwarding by describing a scenario where someone calls into a meeting, realizes that they need to have video connectivity, so he moves to a video booth and then gets the session moved to the booth to allow him to participate by both video and audio.  The cell phone originally defines his context, but when he shifts to the video booth he gets a new context with video capability.  (Comment – this is one we could easily do, probably do more twists on it)  He said that the automatic context monitoring could be used to do this by changing the call based on the user’s intent.  He contrasted this with a call center solution to the problem.  Call center session movement is by agreement of both parties, while the context based movement impacts only the party whose context changes.

 

Some limitations they found in doing this:  SIP Refer, the obvious way to do it doesn’t have a way to distinguish call migration in the two scenarios.  In SIP you can’t invoke call changes from outside of the session (Comment – not sure why you would need to do that).  There solution – introduce a new SIP method – CCR Request.  (Comment – yes, unfortunately that’s what everyone does in SIP – if it doesn’t do what you want introduce an extension).  Lots of issues with this around trust, since the CCR Request comes from outside the session, how do you authenticate it?  That wasn’t part of their work.

 

Question – Why invent a new method, use XCAP to allow the user device to inform the service of new capabilities required.  (Answer – yes, that would work, but the CCR is more convenient and less constrained (Comment – yes, but that’s part of the problem).  Using XCAP requires the user’s terminal understand how to generate the response. 

 

Question – How do you handle the performance issues created by having too many presence change notice activities?  It’s not just about managing load from the intended uses, but hackers can introduce a lot of presence change traffic with little effort and essentially deny services.  Presence services can put the user in the position of network administrator – user has to manage bombardment with presence change notice traffic.  Could become exponential growth).  Answer, isn’t specific to presence.  RFID data generates the same overload threats.  (Provenzale) – yes we know about this and we don’t have a good solution.  What happens when a user moves from one cell to another or makes a minor change in availability?  Does this create a burst in traffic for the limited radio channel to generate presence notifications?  Have to limit user’s presence traffic.

 

(Sammateu) – Presence broker can help here by filtering presence information to hide complexity from services and endpoints that don’t want to deal with it.  Have to put intelligence in presence aggregation. (Comment – this is not unlike the solution that Personeta had to come up with to do converged desktop in order to separate the presence status change traffic from the other traffic so as not to swamp call servers with presence traffic due to registrations and changes)

 

Question (for Bihan) – Slides differ from paper in having one more layer, what’s the other layer for?  (Answer – drawing was different but idea is same – 3 layers, Application server, “real time part of data”, and database.

 

Question (for Provenzale) – why converge user’s identities, users have multiple identities each with it’s own presence rules.   (Comment – this is exactly what was in the paper I was referring to.)  Answer – yes, that’s right, users have multiple identities and their status depends on the user’s communication capabilities.

Session 3A Convergent Services Delivery/SDP

J Den Hartog (Ercisson) Network and Terminal Aspects of Enriched Voice Services

 

He talked about calls involving a mix of circuit and packet media.  “Push to show” – services which start with a voice call and add additional media (send picture, chat, etc.)

 

He talked about many services that used terminal based applets together with web services control functions in the network to enhance circuit calls (e.g. using a network based address space or using network based personalization of greetings (ring tones).

 

Network based vs Terminal based enhancement.

 

John O Connell (HP) Instant group communication within an IMS environment

John is the leader of HP’s IMS architecture.  I know John from previous ICIN and VASA activities. They looked at two different approaches to group communication through an implementation experience in their lab (HP Grenoble) – one based on the IMS standards and one based on service chaining according to Web Services.

 

5 years from now we will have new services.  The real question is whether IMS is going to help it.  Why interest in SDP?  IMS standards address the transport and mobility but do not completely address the service layer.  SDP proposes a way of reducing the cost of service introduction through layering (common enablers on which applications can be built.) SDP can be combined with IMS turning the underlying capabilities (e.g. HSS) into re-usable components.

 

They started out with some use cases for enhancing a call with rich media.  They did it via a standard IMS application call flows and reached the following conclusions:

 

The second part of the experiment involved service chaining, a concept in web services for combining service elements into a single service (Comment – it’s a lot like passing control among components in a component environment)  Service chaining allows multiple individual services to be combined in one session.  This has to work across multiple devices and networks.  Chaining can have sequential or parallel invocation.  (Comment – I don’t know if there are standards for concurrent invocation where multiple services are active at the same time)  The SDP concept uses XML and web services to accomplish this.

 

They added a service composition element, a service registry, and a service context repository.  The registry registers components, and the context repository holds context information passed from one service to another. 

 

Conclusions:

 

Roland Christian (U Witwatersand) Towards a Standards based Service Delivery Platform using service and reference points.

Traditionally enterprise IT and telco networks have been separate functions.  Convergence is about converging these two.  Telcos desire to provide the converged functions.  Enterprises benefit by using the converged network to enhance their business.

 

He defined convergence as a process, not a single step.  SDP is a concept, not formalized and standardized.  Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) is standardized by W3c, but the standard is technology oriented (Comment My view is that this is more syntax than semantics.  Syntax is important in being able to communicate, but without standardizing semantics (i.e. functions) you don’t get re-usability)  Convergence process defines reference points where interworking  can occur.

 

SOA defines points of integration using XML to define interfaces.  Many different kinds of software use SOA.  Enterprises gain technology independence by defining a process as an integration of components, each of which uses web services interfaces and can have any technology inside.  BPEL is a language to assemble the components.

 

SDPs implement reference points inconsistently today.  Model is that services export integration points, which are integrated into applications, and applications connect to users.  The integration of applications and services takes place in what is known as the distribution plane.

 

SDP can be defined as a distributed IT platform architecture using generic SOAs to abstract infrastructure functions and enabling 3rd party implementation of applications that use those abstractions.

 

Question (Chet McQuaide) – how does this relate to the split between SCP/IP in IN?  John O’Connell – media functions are more complex in IMS because of richness and standardization of application environment (e.g. J2EE).

 

Question (Bernard Villian) – Spotlight on Web Services.  Are Web Services more broadly applicable to our problems (example migration from legacy to IMS), but also in addressing operations.  Answer (John O’Connell) – moving applications into web services gives flexibility to apply them to either NGN or legacy, but not all applications benefit from that.  Some require more performance and don’t benefit from network independence.  For most though moving applications into web services opens the environment for a greater development community.  “ISVs are not familiar with JAIN/SIP”.  They can use Parlay X or even proprietary interfaces exported by telco networks. 

Session 4B Programming models for IMS

Al Hezmi (Fokus) Sip Servlet Excecution Environment (SIPSEE) – An Approved IMS SIP AS for Converged Applications

The presentation described an IMS testbed constructed by FOKUS and looked at the suitability of various technologies for applications.  IMS has 3 alternatives for building services:

 

This paper really focused on SIP, and specifically on a SIP server built using SIP Servlets.  SIP servlets are a mechanism in Java that triggers particular actions based on incoming SIP messages and events.  XML is used to define the specific events that a particular Servlet handles and the interface to that servlet.  Fokus has two “Playground” testbeds for services, one based on IMS and one on Parlay/Parlay X.  Their SIP environment includes the HTTP servlet interfaces as well as Open Diameter, used to support the interfaces for HSS.  A C++ implementation of the RO interface for charging is provided with a bridge to allow it to be used in Java.

 

He described using the SIP environment to build a service which automatically completed a call when the user went online and became available.  He also went through a simple call center example using Multimedia. 

Question  How Portable are Sip Servlets (The person asking said his experience was that they were not)  Answer – their implementation conforms to JSR116 (SIP Servlet) but the applications access HTTP and other services.  The part that conforms to JSR116 is portable, but interaction with other services that may not be available in all servers may be a problem.  (Comment – this is one of the key portability issues that makes me skeptical of any claims about application portability for a REAL application, it’s hard to build a complete application without interworking it with services in the application platform which are not standard.  The deeper problem though is likely to be with SIP itself.  Each time SIP is extended or new patterns of use are developed for new services the processing required changes, and the SIP Servlet interface exposes those changes to the application so that an application written for one version of SIP will likely require modification when the protocol is modified.)

 

D. Sobirk (Appium) IMS Programming Models for Different Business Requirements – Evaluating Existing Programming Models for SIP/IMS

He began by talking a little about Appium, which is an interesting company in the industry.  Appium is about 10 years old and has been building applications for carriers independent from the major vendors.  I know Appium has been engaged in Parlay and SCP implementations.

 

He talked about different sources for Applications:  Off the shelf, Operator developed, Operator commissioned, and 3rd party.  He also talked about 3 classes of services:  Pure IMS, Convergent, “Ported legacy”, and “Legacy SIP”.  (Comment – this was one of the few talks which acknowledged that there is and will continue to be a base of SIP based services not built to the IMS specific versions of SIP and that interworking with these, which occur both in enterprise products and in early carrier products, will be a requirement.)

 

Next he went through the programming requirements of various kinds of services and the capabilities of various kinds of servers.  The IMS SIP application server has to deal with several other interfaces into the IMS:  HSS, CSCF, MRF, Charging, etc.  Parlay on the other hand abstracts all these through the Parlay framework and services APIs.  “Microsoft has a SIP interface but it’s quite limited, not recommended”.

 

OSA/Parlay

 

Parlay X – Same basic characteristics as Parlay but more abstracted.

 

SIP Servlets

 

JAIN SIP

 

The presentation showed a matrix of these models and the various classes of services and indicated where each was best, indicating for example that Parlay and Parlay X met the needs of 3rd party developed services, while the JAIN SIP api may be better for the core carrier built ones.  (Comment – this is an interesting exercise.  I don’t know how universal the criteria for categorizing different APIs are)

 

Question (Chet McQuaide) – On Monday someone said IMS is a Docking station for application servers, do you agree?  (Yes)

Question (Warren Montgomery) How are Service Interactions Handled, specifically when applications were built independently?  (Answer – you are up the creek without a paddle)  Seriously, SCIM is defined as to what needs to be done not how.  Feature interactions have been an issue for a long time and nothing has improved much since 1994 (apparently when he did a Ph.D dissertation in that area.

Question What differentiates JAIN/SIP from SIP Servlet?  (Answer – SIP Servlet is locked specifically to SIP, the application can’t call other APIs.  JAIN SIP doesn’t constrain the application so it can be used by applications that are also calling other protocol APIs.

 

V Chaldi (France Telecom) An Enhanced Mechanism for Application Servers Invocation in a SIP based Network

The paper was about enhancing the way invocation servers are invoked.  Today, the S-CSCF uses InitiatialFiltering criteria(IFCs) to determine when to trigger an application server.  The problem is that the only TIME an application server can be triggered is on the SIP Invite message.  Once an AS is inserted into the call flow, it is part of the call session until termination.  What this means is that a lot of application servers have to be put into the call flow on the first message on the chance the feature they implement will be used, and then stay in the call for the entire call.  Consider the HOLD feature.  To enable the call to handle HOLD, the AS implementing HOLD has to be inserted as a back to back user agent at the beginning of the call.  This substantially increases delay and processing load without doing any useful work.

 

Their solution was a SIP Invocation Function (SIF).

 

Question (Chet McQuaide) – Do you consider SIF as part of the SCIM?  (Yes)

Question IFCs are unstructured and low level.  Not as good as today’S IN (He agreed)

(Wipro) PIAF: An Application Framework for Unlocking IMS Engendered Network Capabilities

The speaker explained their concept of the service delivery platform – a central core with extensions, using standards where they exist.  The platform was layered where the core supports the key services (including SCIM), then a web services layer connects the applications.  (I could not stay for the questions for this presentation due to the need to prepare for the session I was Chairman for)

 

Session 5B Service deployment and management

This is the session I chaired, so my notes are somewhat sketchy (hard to take notes on stage).  I introduce this as a critical and often under covered topic, and that neglect of these areas is really what limits the deployment of new services.  I suggested that NGN in general just makes this works because there are a lot more intelligent elements in the network requiring provisioning and management.

Claudio Venezia (telecom Italia) Improving Service Delivery and Management in NGNs using Service Awareness

Claudio was a substitute presenter but did a good job.  The basic concept was using a SIP based “Service Bus” to handle distribution of provisioning information and collection of measurements and other data.  This was done by Subscribe/Notify. In principle this works quite well, services discover elements in the network through notification and get their information well.  There is an issue of how the system scales without using some kind of multicasting, especially if it is extended to end-user devices.

Slimane Bah (Concordia University)A Business Model with a LINDA based broker for provisioning in Mobile Ad Hoc Networks

The speaker is a Ph.D. student and presenting thesis related material.  LINDA is a non-procedural distributed programming language based on the notion of a big shared “tuple space”, that autonomous processors can post to and can receive notifications based on a match of criteria.  Mobile ad-hoc networks are a real challenge because there is no central authority to build any kind of structure for service location, charging, etc.   The solution using LINDA proposed having nodes merge their tuple spaces as they intreract, allowing users seeking services to discover them dynamically as they come in range based on notification criteria.  (The real model was more complex, with application suppliers, application servers, and capability resources used by services all of which are needed to deliver.

 

The solution seems interesting, but the merging mechanism and mechanics of scaling aren’t clear.

Ulf Olsson( Ericsson) The Home Gateway – the Family communication Hub

This paper presented the concept of a home gateway at the interface between the home and the network in enhancing communications.  (Comment – nearly 30 years ago while prototyping ISDN services we invented the concept of a home gateway, which terminated the ISDN and provided access for a variety of devices in thehome.  Our “gateway”, was a minicomputer, but we envisioned it being shrunk and assuming a very similar role.)

 

He made some interesting points about the home environment being chaotic (multiple devices, multiple networks, multiple identities.  Some services are associated with the home, not a specific device (i.e. call someone in the house to notify them of a delivery or emergency).  It has to be very easy to add devices and access services and content.  By putting a home gateway as a proxy between the local environment and devices and the network you can centralize responsibility for identity management and DRM and simplify many things going on (Comment – you have to be careful not to allow the gateway to block future extensions and get in the way)

Session 6A, Service Composition in the NGN. 

 

Y Yokochata (NTT)  (Metaprogramming Platform for Ubiquitous Service Composition

Services were composed by chaining together service elements.  Services were composed through a template which layed out how service elements would be composed together.  They did some performance studies on how performance varied depending on the characteristics of the Service elements and service templates and as expected, big services and lots of services caused degredation.

 

Claudio Venezia (Telecom Italia) How next generation service platforms can leverage on the convergence between ICT and IT resources.

Claudio was also a substitute speaker on a paper in my session.  Telco operators are interested in SOA and service composition because they want to simplify service creation, get reuse, easily integrate with non-telco elements.  (Comment – I’ve heard this one before, which was part of his observation as well.)  So far telecom services get delivered into separate vertically integrated service specific networks, which limits sharing and re-use (Silos).

 

Services can be categorized:

 

He proposed an architecture with “content” web services and Telco web services as elements, then composition, which build services from service elements, and the ability to expose those composed services further.

 

Challenges for mixing different service types:

 

He described the BPEL4WS web services standard, as seen from a telco perspective:

 

They were very interested in JAIN SLEE (jsr240)  which was developed in parallel to J2EE and implements an event oriented model.

 

They have a prototype SLEE – adaptors with an event router on top to connect it to components in the SLEE.  (Comment – like TappS without the virtualization of the protocol interfaces) They have been successful in using this as a web services coordinator in telecom services.

 

“BPEL” is a Turing equivalent language – you can express anything if you really want, but it depends on how much programming you want to do.

Session 7B Business drivers for NGN

 

I unfortunately came in late and missed the first paper from Telefonica Moviles relating to virtual network operators.  I know from reading the paper that it covers how to use the IMS architecture to support VNO operations but was unable to hear the presentation.

H. Mittermayer (Alcatel)   Focusing on the user: Maximizing Broadband Revenues with Mobile TV services

His paper presented a lot of information on the expected consumer behavior with mobile TV.  The basic message was that because it is a unicast personalized service, while the amount of time spent watching may be lower than “broadcast” TV, the value to the subscriber is higher. Also the potential to customize the advertising content delivered and thus the value to the advertiser is much higher.  The data given was a bit confusing though.

 

His paper discussed issues with distribution of Mobile TV, including the key requirements for the service, quality of service, coverage, and usability issues. 

J-Y David (France Telecom)  Economics of the replacement of PSTN with IMS

 

This was an economic model and analysis of replacing a circuit/PSTN  architecture with a VoIP network based on IMS.   The real cost in the network is in the access (Comment – no surprise here).  His model assumed a DSL based access network carrying IP voice to the premises.  The conclusions were a bit vague because the economics are very dependent on assumptions about the access network (usage and density) while cost savings result in the core network (elimination of separate circuit/packet networking and reductions in operations).  Fixed/Mobile convergence is seen as a major driver for PSTN replacement in eliminating separate networks.

Takeshi Ihara (NTT Docomo) A Method for Estimating the Traffic of Future Services

 

He presented some standard models for predicting subscriber behavior in choosing new services and then actual data from Docomo’s services to validate the models.  His predictions in general were reasonably close.

 

One factor to consider is price elasticity, which he modeled saying that there was a maximum and minimum use of a service which apply when the price is extreme (i.e. if price gets high, there is a minimum communication required) in between limits though users tend to consume at a rate that keeps their payment constant. 

 

Finally he had a profit model which takes as input subscriber growth, price elasticity, and pricing plan together with statistical data on the network use and the result shows traffic and revenue growth over time with confidence limits.  (Comment – I was too far from the screen to go through all the details, but there is a lot of detail in the paper on exactly how the uncertainty in modeling was handled.)

Session 8A Charging

Wilhelm Romun (Bell Labs Europe). Online Charging in a Converged Network Environment: An Overview with Results from an Initial Implementation.

 

The speaker was from the Bell Labs organization in the Netherlands and described a research prototype. 

 

The paper talked about a gateway for charging that interfaces with SIP sessions and with the diameter based IMS charging interface.  It is in fact a SIP to Diameter protocol converter of sort, but has to have session awareness.  The gateway sits in the SIP flow and generates charging information based on awareness of the charging type (e.g. flow or event) .  He went through several scenarios including charging by reservation, where the gateway is continuously updating the charging during a session by timers, or mapping a SIP message with specific charging information into an equivalent method in Diameter.

 

Some issues in mapping SIP to Diameter include having to understand how to map Session ID information, and dealing with parameter differences in how the Diameter information is encoded based on IETF standards vs the ITU.  The conclusion was that this was quite feasible to do, and that the same techniques could be applied to any other protocol with session information (e.g. COPS for policy session).

Alain Bibas (France Telecom) Real-time OSS – IP Content Charging Functions.

He talked about the need to support new kinds of charging in order to support content delivery.  Real-time and differential charging (based on time and discounts based on the subscriber) are important in marketing these services.

 

He went through the existing traffic based charging in GSM/GPRS networks, generally done by the GGSN (for data).

 

The proposed solution in 3GPP is IP Flow based charging.  The concept is that the actually content of the IP flow is analyzed to determine how it should be charged as it passes into/out of the network.  This allows an operator to centralize the analysis and charging and eliminate the need for multiple access points to distinguish charging rates.  It works by introducing the analysis function that monitors the flow at layers 3-7 (i.e. can pick out specific application messages to determine the media types and charges), then interacts with the charging functions in IMS to implement charging.

 

Some of the issues include how to distinguish information.  For example, if you identify SIP from the ports used the user can hide SIP by using other non-standard ports.  When SIP is identified, it may still not be possible to distinguish among multiple uses of SIP (IM, session control, subscribe/notify, etc.)

 

Wonseok Lee, Korea Telecom Dependable Payment for T-Commerce

T-Commerce is TV based commerce using a mix of broadcast and unicast information and a set top box to facilitate upstream interactions.  Much of the talk addressed making the service attractive to the end user.  He talked a bit about what limits consumer use of electronic commerce systems.  The big issues were distrust, especially security.  He presented some information about how to insure that upstream payment information is not mis-used.  (This was a somewhat difficult talk to follow from the back of the room)

 

Thomas Pfoertner (Seimens) , Taking Billing and Customer care for Mobile Networks to the next level

How people make buying decisions evolve over time:

  1. Value for money – initially it’s all about price and coverage for mobile networks
  2. Brands.  (Comment – Europe clearly has mobile services being sold under brands.  I believe this is a smaller phenomenon in the US, but growing, especially among young consumers who are being pitched brands associated with lifestyles, music, and sports.)
  3. Experience – this is where services come in especially, but it’s also about customer care and making the experience of using the service as transparent and beneficial as possible.

 

Making the experience good requires a lot from customer care.  Sign up, billing, provisioning, discount plans, usage reports, etc. must all fit how the customer wants to manage the service.

One thing he spent some time on was the whole issue of controlling usage to limit risk both by the consumer and the carrier.  For example limiting usage when a threshold is crossed to eliminate video while continuing to allow audio or emergency services.  Accounts need to be refreshable at will by the consumer.

 

Traditional billing architectures don’t handle this well and tend to be smokestack oriented.  His solution was to restructure charging in horizontal layers,  so that all services go through the same charging structure which can apply limits and handle refresh.  (Comment – I am not a billing expert, but this didn’t seem radical to me)

 

Question (For Bell Labs Speaker) – how do you get the SIP flows to the charging gateway?  Answer – Charging gateway works as an application server.  (Followup – wont other application servers be impacted by charging actions, for example exhaustion of charging accounts should be able to shut down some services.)  (Comment – this was clearly inspired by the last talk and points out the problems of a structure where charging is a peer of services rather than a foundation.)

Session 9 Peer to Peer Architecture  (Chaired by Anders Lundqvist of BEA)

Lots of Hype around peer-to-peer, but it’s important to separate the technology from some of the business aspects.

 

What is P-to-P – each participant takes responsibilities.  New paradigm for communications (Comment – not really, consider almost any radio service like CB radio, Ham radio, etc.)  He talked about this as being good for some things and not others and that the analogies of IT in the 1980s are good – everyone migrated to PCs, but discovered that PCs have to be administered and that is work.

 

Not a new service, P2P file sharing, Skype, etc.  Siemens and Avaya have IP PBX architectures built in a P2P architecture.

Benoit DeVos (Alcatel) Distributed multimedia control system using an In-network Peer-to-Peer Architecture

 

This work focused on providing multi-media over “the omnipresent internet”.  He overviewed the characteristics of centralized vs peer-to-peer.  Peer-to-peer is inherently best effort, and relies on the resources of the client peers, while the client/server (centralized) model you have operator provided infrsastructure and QoS guarantees.  Both will scale, but in the client/server model you get escalating complexity to do it because the central elements must be scaled, while peer-to-peer usually scales more naturally.

 

He proposed a model that captures the best of both – a peer-to-peer architecture of operator provided nodes in the network with a client/server relationship between the users and operator provided nodes.  (Comment – this sounds like a very workable idea and with the right protocols and ability to change binding between client and server according to load and failures would have the ability to support high quality service)

 

He talked about two different models:

 

Question (Dave Ludlam) – you claim to be able to deliver QoS, but the reality is that P2P networks deliver good QoS today, so where is the value for the end user who will have to pay more to the operator to support an operator provided solution.  (Answer – things are fine today, but video may create QoS problems.  In addition P2P networks lack customer support so for some customers having the carrier answerable for service issues may be very important.

 

Question  Are there any applications not suited for In network peer-to-peer?  Billing?  (Answer – they haven’t found anything yet they can’t do)

Yrja Raivio (University work but now Nokia) Peer-to-Peer Architecture for Cellular Networks.

Really applies to both Mobile and fixed.  The work was university of Helsinki work, not Nokia.  One of the big motivators was to boost the usage of mobile data.  (Comment – this is interesting.  North American carriers are very interested in mobile data but I thought that in Europe and particularly in  Scandanavia would have more of it.)  The answer of course is price – if sending data on your mobile costs money and sending data via WiFi or fixed is free.

 

He presented a mobile data client that could use PC based P2P services.  Mobile data is currently Interesting, but expensive (data connectivity).

 

He presented some speculations on how to use mobile capabilities – what if you could google “ICIN 2006 real time” and get a menu of people with mobile phones that are video capable attending ICIN to get feeds from (Comment – yes, but the problem is the cost of sending data) 

 

Other scenarios included organizing pictures, audio, etc.  The big issue with mobiles is battery – you can’t afford to share your battery by leaving your mobile on and available for uploads all the time.  Any solution for P2P mobile must acknowledge the limited battery.

 

He talked about the long tail – the ability to find rare things over P2p.  Amazon gets a lot of money from books that are rare but there are lots and lots of them

 

Free riding (downloading but not sharing ) is a common problem. 

 

Price is a big problem.  For a song download

 

He said iTunes gets good use even with the price but the mobile premium is too high. (Comment – It always amazes me what people will pay for something in small amounts at a time.  1Euro is more than the price in the US, which I thought was high, but I’m not the target audience for music services)

 

He talked about an architecture for mobile peer to peer.  This used a mobile proxy, which would represent the mobile in the internet peer-to-peer service.  It handles addressing problems (Mobile doesn’t have a permanent IP address to be routable), but also legal issues like blocking illegal file sharing. (His view was that putting that on mobile devices would make the operator subject to lawsuits)

 

He went back to dynamic searching to discover data available from peers, talking about this as a real weak point in Google – the information isn’t up to date enough to find things that are happening right now.  Again  battery is an issue and there may need to be compensation to the peer providing access since a real resource is being depleted to send the information.

 

Question (Me) – if the goal is increasing data use, isn’t the obvious problem usage based billing?  If you can get it “free” over fixed internet and Wifi, why would you pay for it over mobile data?  (Answer – graduated billing models with steps (flat for a while) might help, but also content available uniquely via mobile like live videos and pictures from events are probably the thing it takes)  (Followup – Me – yes, but will the owners of THAT content allow the use of mobile devices to share it as acceptable use?  Probably not for commercial content (concerts, etc.), but perhaps there will be enough interest in individual content.  (Comment – 3 years ago I had the good fortune of being at Hawaii’s Kiluea volcano during an active eruption with surface flows.  We could hike right up to the moving hot lava, and there I found many Japanese and Korean tourists with mobile cameras snapping and sending.  Maybe there is a market like this.  Who knows, maybe you can pay for your trip to Hawaii by agreeing to share your content.  Still, I suspect that the real  moneymaking uses will prove to be X-rated.)

 

Marc Bailly (France Telecom) P2P Architecture for conversational Services.

 

He talked a lot about how to implement SIP in a fully distributed system.  He started with a search algorithm, DHT (I think distributed Hash tables), which would be implemented by multiple nodes to support databases.  A key problem is registration and location.  Using DHT a node hashes it’s URL and registers with the node located by the URL hash.  Another node can then retrieve that information using the same hash to locate the same node to retrieve from.  (Comment – works fine if both parties know the same set of nodes!)

He went on to describe IMS implementation locating HSS data dynamically and triggering services to applications.  Again, it seems clear that DHT can work for distributing responsibility, but I don’t know how it works  unless all nodes know exactly the set of other nodes participating.

 

He then went on to talk about how to map a user to a SIP User Agent using this.  (Comment – why does this seem a little like building COBOL emulation on Java?  Maybe useful for some things but if you have a working P2P network why make it emulate something more centralized?)

 

Question Will this work for Mobile?  Answer – the problem with mobile is that it costs money to participate in the network so there may be a problem getting everyone to participate all the time.

 

Question Will data be lost if a peer disappears?  (Answer – no, there is a replication mechanism where data is replicated in neighbors to maintain it if one node goes down, but there is also a cost of extra “hops” and DHT may not be the best answer.  He suggested a hierarchical peer-to-peer model which is apparently how Skype works.)

 

Question (telecom Italia) – how do you do network embedded features like lawful intercept?  Answer – this is an outstanding problem.  Maybe an operator needs to do this on the access network directly

 

Question – Media, like Video, will probably dominate the network bandwidth.  Have you thought about whether P2P can support caching to reduce network traffic?  (Raivio) – Mobile proxy can cache.  (DeVos) – caching is needed and can be done in local or edge nodes (his paper was the network peer-to-peer)  (Followup – thought Bit-Torrent was the ideal example.  Bit Torrent finds the nearest source of a requested video and uses it and can have multiple downloads in progress and merge the results).  (Lindqvist) – Pricing has a big impact and pricing can change rapidly.

Poster Session

ICIN had a poster session for the first time in recent memory.  The papers accepted for poster presentation were one the ones just below making the cut for presentation in the sessions.  The posters were presented on 3 foot by 6 foot boards in the lobby area between the two meeting rooms, the same area as the exhibits and break refreshments  There were a couple of papers on SCIM in the poster session (including mine), and several papers on Parlay based systems.  My paper proposed using an application server for SCIM, using a combination of rule based resolution and programmed components to mediate among different applications using different protocols.  There was a Teleca paper on resolving service interactions among SCPs using IN using rules.  I had an interesting discussion with the author and one of the founders of the company who said they had had good results in trials, but the first deployment wasn’t until August.  The Parlay posters were from Universities and I never had a chance to talk with the authors.

Exhibits

There were only two exibitors this year, Appium and Teleca/Sonera.  I had an interesting discussion with the Appium CTO.  Appium has been around for 10 years and has been involved in building applications for various environments, mainly Parlay.  It’s not clear from what I heard how much was deployed in service and how much trial, but they have had a lot of experience in dealing with feature interactions and the limitations of various IN and service programming.

 

The Exhibits are one area where ICIN has shrunk dramatically since 1998, when my team was part of a Lucent booth exhibiting internet call waiting along with booths from Alcatel, Siemens, and several other large players.  In part Exhibiting at ICIN seems less attractive than some other conferences because the focus is on the technical sessions and people are in the exhibits only during breaks.  The setup this year though was quite nice with the exhibits prominent in the lobby, and in talking with others on the planning committee I learned that some of the smaller companies thought that ICIN was a very good venue for them because the major vendors don’t exhibit and as a result the smaller players can be a big part of the show.  In 2003, Personeta had an exhibit staffed by Alon Mellor and me and I thought we had reasonable traffic.

Networking Opportunities

This conference has a substantial social program in addition to the technical sessions.  By now this has a bit of the feel of an alumni reunion to me, knowing so many of the regular attendees and the location and looking forward to finding out what everyone is up to.  During those breaks and the receptions and dinner it was clear that the telecom industry is still one that is under a lot of stress.  Alcatel sponsored a cocktail reception, and the speaker for Alcatel  (I was too late in arriving due to a small problem with the busses to hear who she was) gave as introduction the fact that Alcatel is seeing a decline in both its wireless and wireline businesses and is looking towards services and service delivery solutions (the real topic of ICIN) as a new source of revenue to replace that lost in other areas.  The recent rounds of mergers (e.g. Alcatel/Lucent, AT&T/SBC/BellSouth clearly have introduced uncertainty both into the company plans for deployment and the career plans of their key employees.  It is very unfortunate that at a time when the industry most needs people focused on bold moves and new ideas so many people are concerned more about their personal futures.

 

The City of Bordeaux on the other hand is clearly enjoying an improving climate.  Many buildings have been cleaned of centuries of grime and the city continues to develop shopping and restaurants while preserving its historic character.  It’s still very much a walking city, though a new tram system makes it possible to get around easier than in the past.  Well worth a visit.

Wrapup session (Kevin Woolard)

 

Kevin presented a brief summary of the conference

 

 

Chairman’s observations:

 

The Hot topics for the conference:

 

Topics for the next conference

 

Next ICIN will be October 8-11 2007 in Bordeaux (Likely to be Cite Modial)

New TPC chairman Ulrich Reber (Siemens) (Ulrich.Reber@siemens.com) and New IAB chairman (Stuart Sharrock)