This is the 12th ICIN conference, and nearly the 20th anniversary of the first. The conference has been held at various intervals, from 2 years down to 1 in recent years, and has had as many as 500 attendees in the Boom years and as few as about 150 in recent years. It is notable for always attracting the key people in carriers and vendors who are concerned with services and service architecture. Europe, Korea, and Japan area always well represented, while the rest of the world varies. In recent years attendance from the US has been relatively sparse, especially from carriers. The cost of travel combined with the low value of the dollar is clearly a factor. None the less the attendees represent about 70 different organizations in 25 or 30 different countries.
This year’s conference was held at the Pullman/Sofitel hotel in Bordeaux Lac, a conference center outside of the city. The hotel’s facilities were first rate including conference rooms and meals, though the location is less than ideal because many attendees want to visit restaurants and tourist sites in the city, which requires either public transportation (a bus or a 30 minute walk to a 20 minute tram ride) or an expensive taxi ride. One notable thing about the facilities was that each of the conference rooms provided power outlets at each seat, and the conference provided a free WiFi network for attendees. The Wifi worked only intermittently (likely too many people trying to use access points not up to handling the load), but the availability of power everywhere made it much easier to take comprehensive notes.
The fundamental theme of ICIN has always been the creation and deployment of innovative services using intelligence in communication networks and producing revenues for telecommunications operators. In the beginning of the conference the focus was on Intelligent Network, but for the past 10 years the focus has shifted towards ways to take advantage of creative energy behind the huge wave of new services being built for the Internet. Given the effort put into IMS, Parlay, Parlay X, and other standards and deployments for opening networks to innovators, it is disappointing to see that success at these efforts is still very small in scale compared to what is being seen in the internet/web world. With the exception of content downloading and management 3rd party participation in telecommunications services remains small. In considering the material and discussions in the conference I make several observations on the possible reasons and implications:
Stuart Sharrock gave some statistical information on the conference to open the first session. ICIN this year saw a slight upturn in attendance from a year ago.
Stuart – We are approaching the Zetabyte era – he showed statistics for growth of IP traffic and projects of 44 “Exabytes” a month (from 10K Petabytes) per month The big new driver is IPTV and IP video. Mobile traffic is about 1% of this, but it is the most rapid growth rate percentage wise (100 times in 4-5 years).
Second point is that as we move from voice domination to data domination the revenues are rising only slowly – flat rate plans, competition. This means that the network cost per bit sent must fall dramatically just to keep carrier’s profitable (nothing really new here.)
Following this general information there were keynote addresses from three industry leaders.
His organization is an architecture/integration laboratory for NTT for next generation equipment. NTT reorganized in 1999 for NGN into 3 communication companies (east, west, long distance) plus Data and Docomo. The Laboratory is part of the overall holding company (Comment – sounds like the old Bell Labs)
Broadband (ADSL and 3G) started in 2000 and 2001 for NTT. NTT actually has only 1/3 of the ADSL market, because NTT is required to lease its access lines at a low price to other operators. (The biggest share, slightly more than NTT is SoftBank Broadband). This led NTT to deploy Fiber to the Home (PON based). It became cost competitive with ADSL in 2004). PON allows the cost of distribution network to be shared among multiple customers so that the economics depend on the take rate for the service. NTT deployed primary line voice service using VOIP over FTTH (Comment – the hard issue here tends to be power. Not sure how they addressed it).
Broadband subscribers in Japan are 13M DSL, 4M CATV, and 11.3M FTTH. FTTH will overtake DSL next year (DSL is decreasing). NTT has over 70% of the FTTH market. (Comment – that’s a pretty good penetration rate. Not sure how many households there are in Japan, but the broadband penetration, especially Fiber, looks much higher than the US)
NGN for them includes IMS and managed communication. They are building their NGN in the transit network, starting with commercial service in March 2008. The coverage area for the NGN will be expanded until it covers their whole service area by March of 2011. Over the 2 years following that they will be expanding the coverage area of NGN and migrating 20 million fiber optic (probably a projection) subscribers to the NGN
Current revenue is 50% legacy voice, and roughly 25% IP and 25% new business. The expectation is 35% new business, 40% IP, and 25% legacy by 2013.
They have aggressively set prices for FTTH, and currently costs exceed revenues. The projected break even is 20 million FTTH subscribers, which they expect in 2011. They are not on that projection based on past growth rate, (The gap seems about 2-3 Million). Therefore they need new services to draw more customers.
First service was just transmission of TV over FTTH, now new service, Hikari (Light) TV includes broadcast and content.) A key cost requirement for them is support of Multicast, which they achieve because of the use of a managed network for distribution.
They believe a common SDP architecture is key to success, and the SDP supports both NGN and 3rd party services. They architect for two kinds of platforms, internal in the network and outside via an API (Parlay X). The internal SDP can export services to the external SDP. His examples included unified messaging and Smart Homes (security and appliance control together with multimedia communication (Comment – nothing really new here, I think the problem has always been to come up with a compelling reason for the customer to pay for this kind of capability, since maintaining all the connectivity inside the home reliably isn’t trivial)
Key issue for them is
migration of POTS to FTTH. POTS peaked
at about 60M in 1999. Now dropping
rapidly to be replaced by FTTH based telephony.
If you look at traffic, there was a sharp peak in 2001 due to use of
dialup IP access, then a very sharp fall off in minutes after that due to
migration to DSL. (Comment – I think that in the
To migrate POTS to NGN, they introduce an Aggregation media gateway that collects copper loops and puts them into the NGN, plus a control server to provide POTS services. The control server is deep in the network.
Question (Deutsch Telekom) What is the role of the regulator in making the transition. – They provide open access to other providers for both FTTH and Metal access networks (just at the very basic level).
Question (Me) Is the NGN IPV6 from the start? Answer – yes, the core is IPV6, but they do not currently open IPV6 access to others. This is controversial.
Question (Aepona) How is revenue shared with their partners. Answer – yes, there is sharing, but the details are not available.
Question (Russian attendee) How did you address “Lifeline” service for FTTH. Answer – currently it’s only on the legacy equipment, they are moving to FTTH/NGN but there are issues. The key issue for the questioner is power – EU requires 2 hours power, Russia requires 1. Answer – they aren’t requiring this, their focus is on feature parity using NGN. Currently POTS lines that are on the FTTH are routed over IP to their legacy POTS switches, they are developing the required features in the NGN directly (feature/control server) to support all required features. The power issue is being aggressively studied, but what they are hoping is that the government will not require them to provide power (i.e you could use local battery backup, but it’s the customer’s responsibility to make sure it’s big enough and reliable). Another motivation for them is basically reducing their own power requirements to comply with “green” initiatives. CO powered copper is a major power consumer (and probably a significant source of toxic material to be recycled, i.e. CO battery plant).
He opened with some dramatic shots of the Sumatra Tsunami – some watch in fascination, others run away. 2008 has brought an explosion of new end user devices. They can’t be managing them any more. Also, there has been an explosion of network sites and content providers.
What’s really new with Web2.0 – APIs become a new product category. Exposing your core assets via APIs is a new business category. He showed an organization of APIs and sources from major internet companies – thousands. Nothing coming from the Telecom companies of any significance. What’s significant about this is that the millions of independent service builders are picking their APIs and there’s nothing on the table from the telco’s. Telcos have very valuable assets – you can build up social networking contents using the personal directories on mobile phones (Comment – sure, but who owns the directory in your phone? I see some problems if your service provider sells your address book without your permission)
Telcos are starting to realize this and some are putting things out there, but no global standardization. (Interesting, what about Parlay X?)
The vision: More revenue by opening up “the long tail” – 3rd party applications serve niche needs. (Comment – nothing new here) Two types of customers – Developers, who are looking to build things and application downloaders. Developers are driven by ease of use and revenues. Lots of APIs offer revenue for use. Downloaders are looking for cool stuff. Mostly free, but sometimes they pay.
What does this mean for Telcos? Selling APIs is a new business. They have to provide value, but should have low canibalazation (i.e. not take revenue away from their services. They have to be global – very important for developers that things be global).
In Web1.0, Telcos came in late – invested in partners and services after they were already developed and expensive. The key for Web2.0 is essentially to get access to new services very early and get LOTS of them. Every API is essentially an investment in the companies that use it if you do it right, so companies like Google that open hundreds of APIs to thousands of application developers are essentially like early venture capitalists, looking to share in the growth of a few of those developers into major new applications.
Telefonica has 240 Million subscribers – that’s a lot of value to users of their APIs.
Trends – more internet and web convergence. Common network, Fixed/Mobile convergence, and converged devices.
What’s the business model:
(Comment – interesting data. IPTV is very small compared to total TV, and while downloads look big they are dwarfed by traditional kinds of e-commerce. I wonder how much of that Amazon and eBay traffic is CDs and DVDs and whether that alone exceeds the downloads?)
The key thing is that this is turbulent – things that were traditionally subscription may become advertising based (e.g. Google office or Hotmail). Some things move to subscription (e.g. renting services on the web vs buying software).
Looking towards Communication 2.0 – transitioning to digital media and content, converged smart devices, and hosting 2.0 (hosted services for consumers and enterprises) – Any Content, Any Network, Any Screen. (Comment – funny – this sounds like a motto for a carrier or maybe Sun).
The trends they see in
devices include uniform content management, but also having a consistent suite
of applications. Devices are moving from
browsers to application platforms, like PCs.
(Of course he is looking at
Windows mobile based devices). New
screen category is something called the Netbook –
mobile compact notebook focused on wireless connectivity
He gave some examples of rich media from sports, including the Olympics – average duration of watching online video from MSNBCs Olympics offerings was 34 minutes, 10X that for YouTube.
His view of Service delivery – looks a lot like the telco view in layering, but much simpler and more focused on services than transport.
Question (Chet McQuaide) What’s needed to eliminate the frustration in user experience in realizing a truly converged lifestyle (Everyone referred to it in some form). Augustin – design of services is detached from the user. People invent things they think will help without knowing, especially when invention is done in the telco. The key is focusing on the user experiences “Fun(ny) Services”
David – Microsoft plays 2
roles, API/platform builder and application builder. On the platform side they have made a much
stronger push to put the things they have done into standards – IT standards
and internet have been different worlds. He cited SIP as a counter example where
people worked together and that Microsoft has been active in pushing content
management standards from IT into telecom and mobile devices (Nokia is a major
licensee for them). Commitment to end
frustration is to make sure the platform works across everything (Comment – nothing new here, Microsoft’s
strategy has always been to have the platform work everywhere) On
the application side, their focus has shifted from PC centric to making sure
things will work on
Kou Mikaye – Question is how to integrate what you need securely – today it’s usually inconvenient. His children do everything on the internet, but it’s risky – security is an important question and people are uncomfortable with it. He comes from the Telco world where you know who is on the end of a device with good certainty, in the Internet you don’t know, so you have to rely on some kind of 3rd party provided authentication. (Comment – I think he was getting at the question of identity management and “single sign on”. For me personally one major inhibitor for making more use of ecommerce and electronic management and payment is that every company has it’s own security procedures, and many require you to expose personal information I do not want on my laptop or over the air, like my SSN). Iphone isn’t selling broadly in Japan (Chet asked each to comment on Iphone). Stuart – Internet is designed for anonymity, there is no identity fundamentally part of the internet. This is a role the Telcos can help play.
Question (Philipe Kelly, ALU) What space is left for traditional professional media producing content? Orange has moved to produce exclusive content for their IPTV and Mobile customers not available through traditional channels. Microsoft – still a good role for professional content and traditional media, just will be other things. Advertising based professional content has a strong business model. User generated content is mostly in the long tail. (Comment – somewhere recently I recall seeing an analysis of some recent news events where Youtube amateur reporting and blogging was getting more information out than traditional media and getting more viewership. I could well see amateur reporting replacing a significant part of traditional news and sports.) Telefonica – plenty of room for both.
Question What’s the solution to the identity problem? Microsoft – government will provide one, enterprises provide one, and the Mobile SIM is one. Unfortunately he believes there will continue to be both 3rd party identity providers and service providers providing identities. (Google, Facebook, Microsoft, etc. all provide federated identities, but they don’t in general federate across each other.) This is a huge challenge because it’s not just technology, but agreement on business and legal issues associated with identities.
Chet joined ICIN as part of BellSouth, then worked with AT&T. During his work in AT&T he learned there’s nothing like experience.
This presentation is based on a pre-IMS triple play (VoiP ISP, IPTV) service. This isn’t the first one they did (did one on H.323, this is SIP). They are targeting 5M subscribers by end of 2008. Their deployment uses both ATM and Gigabit Ethernet to connect the customers. They use a dedicated Virtual circuit to carry VOIP into their core network which uses IP VPN to provide interconnection.
IP Addressing – they use NATS to implement private IPv4 addressing at the edges, re-using addresses 5 times. The NATS translate to public IP addressing in the core. The regionalization of the network makes it easier to manage the IP addresses and makes transmission paths shorter. It also simplifies adding new application servers and load distribution and failure recovery for application servers.
The dynamic nature of the infrastructure has a lot of issues to solve – they need to know which servers were involved in delivering service to a user at a particular time to handle QoS issues (customer complaints). Tuning is very important – simple things like registration rates can mater a lot. Reducing the frequency of re-registration can save a lot of capacity and CPU cycles in their servers, but it also slows the detection of problems. Subscribe/Notify based services can have big impacts – they typically don’t require real-time response and don’t produce revenue directly, but consume a lot of resources. (Comment – one of the things Personeta had to do in implementing a presence based service is figure out how to separate the subscribe/notify traffic from the session control traffic, since the session control runs on servers with limited resources)
Mass restart after a failure creates special needs. They have to provide network defense mechanisms against floods of traffic produced during failure recovery.l
The speaker is a substitute for the author and had limited English skills unfortunately. He described their approach to opening networks to 3rd parties for application based on the wide penetration of broadband.
Parlay/OSA APIs were originally designed for open access but being based on Corba were too difficult to use. Parlay X Web services APIs have replaced them for access to 3rd parties.
“Telco2.0” is a design pattern for the telco business (Comment – not sure if he meant pattern as a formal term as used by people on software design)
He described a mashup to produce a weather forecast service. The Korean Meterological Association provides the forecast, they do text to speech to make it voice capable and provide some click to dial and location functions.
He described some they did themselves, “Ann Diary”, a directory/presence service, KT messenger, an IM service, and a TV service (ran out of time to describe it.)
(Comment – it’s unfortunate that the author couldn’t be here. It looks like they are still fairly early in figuring out how to offer 3rd party interfaces, but not clear.)
Rebecca is a frequent presenter and has a new book on 3G coming out. OSIP stands for Open Systems Innovation Platform. It’s part of BT’s 21st century network project. Michael presented a value chain from invention all the way to the customer, and portrayed OSIP as covering the architecture and productisation of new services – it’s a process as well as a platform.
The Focus included enhancing user interfaces through rich web-style interfaces which is really aimed at improving customer retention. This is producing feedback to evolve their 21CN architecture and APIs.
Second focus was on strategies to extend the experience (more devices with consistent experience, more applications on the same devices.).
OSIP is a Nursery for services – this is missing around the industry. The idea is to explore and grow services that will empower BT to be a leader in the next generation. Nurseries have doors, and that’s the end user interfaces This is based on “True IMS” not pre-IMS. They are trying to test whether IMS actually meets the needs for a platform for new services.
They really wanted to explore video – video streaming, handover between endpoints, Video calling, IPTV and rich voice together. Multimedia Conferencing.
She went through Multimedia “Ring back tone” – getting a personalized greeting for callers. They created a way for users to easily create their greetings, but they didn’t address any legal issues that might arise (Intellectual property, decency/obscenity laws, etc.).
OSIP “BT Live” portal – advertising based portal site looking at controlling your services, idea is to displace sites like Yahoo and Google as home page.
(Comment – “Feature Interaction” was one of the big issues in the voice world that never really got solved. Web/Internet services generally ignored it as something that they didn’t have to worry about. That’s not entirely true – identity issues and conflicts over devices still happen. One thing that makes interactions particularly nasty for communications providers is that the world of the Telco is all about services that sit in between users and therefore have to deal with the perspectives of each user on the interactions, while the web world generally looks at it as the user deals with a single service provider at a time who has complete control. Mashups modify this and bring feature interaction issues to the web.)
Question – looks like registration and subscription are big issues for network efficiency. Stephanne described some IETF efforts to address these issues.
Question (Kris Kimbler): What insights does OSIP give you on commercial deployment of 3rd party services. Michael – OSIP isn’t a deployment vehicle, that goes through BT’s lines of business. It would be nice if there were no gap, BT hasn’t figured it out yet. (Comment – Kris worked on Moriana’s SDP 2.0 report, and one thing he told me in trying to recruit more participation was he had few success stories in open services creation)
Question (Orange Labs): What mechanisms allow users to interact between different applications (she showed drag and drop between applications. Rebecca – Their interfaces are all Web widget based. Some of what they did was possible because it was a closed “friendly user” environment and they picked compatible applications to work with. She thought it would be difficult in a true open environment because users pick the applications. Use of Open APIs isn’t sufficient to insure that this will work because there are a lot of them and they aren’t consistent.
Question (Chet McQuaid): What conclusions can you draw from the Pre-IMS work towards the adequacy of IMS to handle what people are looking at it for. Steffanne – their work is really focused on VoIP only and their tools were really focused on what messages would be used to support VoIP using SIP. He is a bit worried about the use of Subscribe/Notify in some of what he saw from OSIP resulting in scaling issues. Rebecca agreed and said they weren’t looking at all the deployment issues. Michael said that he is familiar with BTs Sip deployment – one of the largest and agreed with Steffan’s analysis of the importance of tuning. Rebecca said that there are ways to reduce it – group registration, aliases, implicit registration. (Comment – again, filtering and segregation of registration, notification and session control is a way of attacking it)
Hybrid mashups combine information from Mobile systems (busy/idle, profile, location, etc.) and internet (presence, maps, IM, profile). Mashups use the mobile domain as a supplementary data source and optionally as an access channel.
He started by describing the REST approach to APIs. The problem today is much data isn’t accessible. Even when it is, SDKs and SOAP are complex and heavyweight for the mobile data world. REST exposes everything as a resource using a URI: /user/joe/location. REST uses simple verbs on the resource (read, create, update, delete, and they map easily to HTTP (get/put/post/delete).
RESTful design – use URIs to identify users and attributes in a simple hierarchy. Each one has some challenges:
Several models for the deployment:
Security is also a significant issue.
Who will offer the services? Two models, operators as bit pipes or as information brokers.
One player vs cooperation of multiple sources? Multiple sources are a fact of life.
What will the charging be? It has to be free for some level of use. If you charge for everything, people will find a way to route around the charging element. Mobile operators who charge for location will see apps created to read the GPS information from the handset and bypass the operator.
Profit isn’t going to be quick or assured: It’s going to cost up front to get into this job.
Question (Cap Gemini Sweeden) – if the operator can’t make a profit, why would they do it? Answer – to be innovative, to demonstrate leadership, to have any chance of making a profit off applications downstream.
Question (Roberto Minerva) (pointed out that in Telecom Italia, the operator has data on prepaid users). What of the business models is going to win? If operators can cooperate, then it’s the broker model, if not, it will be stand alone by a 3rd party and the operators will largely not participate.
Question (Rebecca Copeland) there are 2 kinds of location – historic, based on what you know about where the person usually is, and dynamic, based on precisely where they are now, how much do you need Dynamic knowledge? Answer – most things need real-time location. Operator systems to do location without the device don’t scale (Comment – I’d like to understand that a bit better). Rebecca pointed out that many people don’t need real-time, historic data like where the person tends to be is good enough for a lot of interesting services.
They started with IMS and Internet and set out to see what could be done in the social networking arean with it.. They are looking for ways of using social networks to provide services that really help the user in their current context. Consider the problem of finding a doctor to treat some condition – today you research it using yellow pages, web, friends, and it’s tedious, provide some easy way to do it. Or consider arranging a dinner with someone at ICIN if you don’t happen to meet face to face. (Comment – interestingly enough I was part of a group trying to do just that at the time. We succeeded, but probably missed some folks who would have liked to attend)
Social interaction analysis: Compute a directed graph with weighted edges that describe how heavily two people interact. Social proximity is a function of the interaction attributes, the use case under which they happened, and the context of the interaction. He is proposing to do this in a distributed algorithm using semantic web representation for the relationships (versus sticking it all in a back end server).
Example: Mobile social helper. Dynamically constructs a social network from email, SMS, and Call interactions. As a result computes a directed social strength between the actors, then identify a relevant contact to call based on that network and context. (Example – a mother trying to locate a missing son has a best friend recommended as a contact). (Comment – I’ve never understood how people get past the privacy issues in social networking. Yes, I use some of these sites but instead of being delighted when they turn up a “friend of a friend” who happens to be someone I know I feel like I really wish I knew what else was going on so I knew what else these sites know about me. Maybe I’m just paranoid)
Example: Web Meeting Room Assistant – using Location or RFID tags the system identifies the people in the meeting room with you. When you open your laptop you get an email with a link to a view of all the users in the room, and can drag and drop documents to share them, store the community for later, retrieve information the users share. (Comment – again a little spooky, but less than some others, and it does sound useful for several purposes, including just jogging my failing memory for names and faces to identify the people. I seem to recall reading about someone’s research on a social assistant that would identify people you spoke to and provide a “heads up” display with their name and the context of recent interactions you have had. That could be done without releasing any information the others would consider private, it’s really just a better memory).
Question (not sure who) – in his opinion there is little real market for this, but it makes an excellent tool for spying? How do you put in a border between private and public information? Privacy is their top question (Comment – yes, it’s the one I was going to ask too) His example was Facebook – there are privacy controls and users choose to share anyway. (Yes, that’s the concern)
Question (Kris Kimbler) – There was a study in Denmark that in spite of high concerns on privacy something like 30% of the people have sensitive information (bank accounts, etc.) on social network sites. In social networking you have to give something to get something. One thing that social networking can do is automate a lot of things people do now by hand – if the mobile system detects you are in Bordeaux it can update your LinkedIn, FaceBook or Plaxo information to reflect that instead of forcing you to do it all by hand.
Comment (Me): The privacy issues will have to be addressed if/when they lead to crimes committed against people using private information shared through these services. It then becomes a legal issue to decide whether the operator took sufficient care in protecting what the user thought was private and even whether they informed the user adequately of the risks.
Question (not sure who) how do you identify real social networks? Answer – communication is a great tool to uncover who you really interact with. Facebook et al are artificial, they record who you chose to connect to, but who you talk to using your mobile phone shows who you really talk to. (Comment yes, but that may reveal things that you don’t want others to know)
Rebecca – all very well to build a service like social networking, but how do they make money/ Today, it’s advertising, everyone hates advertising. She doesn’t see how social networking services will make money. People use them on the web now because it’s free. Answer – within 10 years this will become so valuable to people that people will pay because they have to, it’s part of their life. (Rebecca – hasn’t happened for search engines). Comment from the audience – there are only two business plans for an operator when looking at a new service: Ignore it and become a bit pipe with respect to that, or participate early and MAYBE they will make money. Kris – Google doesn’t make money on search, but by being there it gets to make money on other things (advertising) this is going to be the same thing.
Roberto – there is a company
Chet – how about a more passive approach? Instead of a panic button that an elderly person uses to get help, how about something that will tell the elderly person who is “near” so they can decide whether to ask for help? (Comment – the problem here is that the privacy issue here isn’t for the elderly person, it’s for the friends who may not want their location shared.)
Content delivery is the most challenging job he has had in many years in the communication industry. IPTV means TV over a controlled IP environment, vs Internet TV – best effort over uncontrolled path.
Content deliver can be done over controlled content networks versus Peer-to-Peer. There are different sources (broadcast, movies, webcams, phones, etc.) and different outputs (TV, PC, mobile phone, cinema)
He started showing the call flow for SIP using proxy servers to intermediate between endpoints each using DNS to find the other. Today SIP uses centralized servers to do this (known as rendezvous). P2PSIP uses a distributed hash table implementation to distribute the information among the peers in the network and use a hash to figure out where to start looking (Comment – I heard someone, maybe even this speaker, talk about this before in a local presentation in Illinois. My reaction at the time was that you could do this, but I didn’t see the benefit. Maybe I will now?)
This is being standardized in the IETF under the name RELOAD, the P2PSIP protocol. It has built in security and NAT traversal, you can’t not implement it. It will support other protocols, not just SIP, and you can plug in different dynamic hash table algorithms.
The architecture is based on a general overlay network which maintains information identifying the other members of the overlay. It’s built fundamentally on TLS/DTLS – can’t avoid security, and the members of the network have certificates to validate identity.
The issues include:
Question (Huilan Lu, ALU) – how are the certificates distributed? It’s all done by the registration server in the same transaction that registers you. There’s no extra overhead for it.
Question (?) How does this related to standard SIP – not changing RFC 3261, standard SIP, changing 3263, which defines how you rendezvous between SIP endpoints which describes the mechanism using proxies and DNS. The protocol solution is much more general than SIP, but the IETF charger is limited to SIP. He is walking a fine line trying to keep it open without wandering off that track.
This work was actually done by her as a “high school” project as an intern years ago? (In a later discussion I learned that “high school” in France really means a technical degree of some sort. In fact she had a Ph.D. before doing this work and had gone back to get the “high school” degree, doing the project just before becoming a full-time employee of Orange.) IPTV is beginning to impose significant bandwidth demands on operator networks. The objective was to find ways to reduce this impact.
Consider Video on Demand – the user browses a catalog of programming then requests a video. With a central implementation the video is delivered with a unicast flow containing the entire content. They were looking at using well known techniques, like P2P to provide this with no assumptions about popularity of a particular piece of content and evaluate alternatives.
They modeled the network in 3 pieces, Backhaul, Core, and Access. With a central model each user has a dedicated connection to a server for each content delivery – this means high network load in every piece and a large number of servers.
The content delivery Network (CDN) model introduces surrogate servers in the backhaul network. Before delivery the content is transferred to the surrogate server and delivery is from the closest surrogate. This model has better scaling in bandwidth and less load problems, but requires lots of servers and this provisioning.
In the P2P model there are almost no central servers, content is shared directly between endpoints. This scales, but there is a lot of communication required, so they looked at alternatives, like using servers in the backhaul network to deploy content but using p2p to distribute the content to them.
They developed a cost model based on transmission, servers, routers, etc. Then plotted cost relative to the central model based on the percentage of clients that request the same content.
To address this they used a Hybrid approach, with the central server deciding which model should be used. (Comment – I have no idea what is a realistic “popularity”. I suspect it depends on specific weightings to the various cost elements as well as the structure of the distribution network.)
They built an architecture that would switch automatically switch and patented it.
Question (me). Is the crossover point something that gets achieved in practice and how does it depend on the relative weights in the cost function and the network structure? It turns out it’s really 0.12%, not 12% (presentation confusion). Ove actually said in Denmark they have had many broadcasts than 10-30% of people watch. The paper covers the network structure, the relative weights are proprietary.
Two kinds of Personalization, one alters the logic of the session, and another changes the presentation or application. Personalization of audio services has largely not been successful because it’s intrusive and limited. Video offers more opportunities: Information banners during a video call, Advertising, including targeted advertising and sponsored communication, and customized displays. (Comment – maybe what’s going on is that Video isn’t linear in space, giving you opportunities to put stuff around the video. Audio is, there’s really not much most people want to do to it, though I have heard people talk about compressing audio or doing pitch conversions either for speed or comprehension or just to get around hearing problems.)
Where can the composition of video (e.g. Mashup) occur? Not in the terminals, too low power, not accessible enough. It has to be in servers somewhere. Has to be open to 3rd parties, leverage the infrastructure available and respect SLAs and user interface. (His example mashed up an overlayed logo and a “ticker” bar for text information on a video stream.
What they did was create an architecture where a customer using a portal describes preferences. These and the service preferences are exposed through one API, There are servers which do the Mashup which expose another API with capabilities. The service runs in an external server which uses all other information (presence, location, subscription information, etc.
Users have always on and connected terminals through Telco networks, IP networks and mobile terminals. (Comment – your reaction to this probably shows how communication in your country differs from Europe. The Europeans really have reached this point. In the US we are connected much of the time, except when we travel outside the US and can’t use our mobile devices unless we have pre-arranged it and pay exorbitant roaming fees or use local devices which lose your context. In other parts of the world I suspect that mobile data is still a ways off) Context includes location, time, device, and what you are doing. The objective here is to allow preferences to be expressed which control how content is shared and made available
He described an architecture which aggregates all the raw data available about what, when, how, etc. the user is acting to extract the user context, then make that available to content delivery services which would customize (cast) the content. This was trialed for content sharing in Venice.
Kris Kimbler moderated this session. (Kris has a long history with Parlay and Parlay X as the leader of a major application server company, more recently working for the Moriana Group. The Panel consisted of Roberto Minerva from Telecom Italia, Augustin Nunez Castain (Telefonica), and David Pecota (Microsoft). Kris has only 3 questions for the Panel: Why open networks, How to Open them, and when.
Microsoft: Why is about new business opportunities in working with 3rd parties. It generates new revenue. It also allows you to deliver a better end-user experience.
Telefonica: Why falling revenues and the need for new sources
Telecom Italia: in 1989 IN got started to solve an internal control problem. After that there was a long stream of efforts (Tina, Parlay, Jain, etc.). The industry was on board for 20 years, but nothing really happened until Web2.0 demonstrated it. He couldn’t convince management there was enough reason to really do it. The question for the communication industry is why Google, Microsoft, etc. have success with open networks, and telecom doesn’t. Roberto’s view is that the web is focused on data and information – they are a global database. Data without APIs to access it is useless. Opening up was imperative.
Augustin: -- being open isn’t just about APIs, they have to be easy to use. When Telecom opened APIs they were hard to use.
Roberto: You have to match the way that the “web programmers” are comfortable with – we saw the “REST” interface yesterday, treat everything as resources. It’s a stateless interface. The web/IT programmers are used to client/server, and stateless interactions. Our interfaces for programming call control are state oriented. Another point – Web interfaces are free and usually anonymous. Telecom interfaces are almost always for a fee, (sometimes for a large fee.)
Kris: Web programmers don’t understand telecom – they think it’s boring and simple compared to things like Maps and Social networking.
David: Microsoft thought about building a platform from the DOS days, and had to deal with the reality of not being in end-to-end control. They learned the benefit of it and have continued to expand APIs and capabilities as they went forward. He participated in an SDP summit in 2001 and made this point. Doesn’t know why Telcos haven’t done it, but they need to see the benefit and the value of the things that they can provide.
Kris: Microsoft sees business value from APIs and getting applications on their platforms.
David: Yes, and now Services are a part of the strategy too.
Question (Aepona): If Telcos provided a rich set of interfaces would adoption be any better? He thinks not. He thinks it’s a marketing problem – “Build it and they will come” – well they didn’t come. Telecom needs to market those capabilities and build the market for them. To be successful they have to first demonstrate what can be done with the capabilities people have now, and nobody has done that.
Kris: Well we have a problem because Facebook and Google don’t advertise, people just find them. (Aepona – use of APIs is Viral, people get excited about it. His son works for Myspace and when he tries to talk to him about Telecom the reaction is “it’s boring”). (Comment – Is the problem that Telcos really have nothing to offer, or we haven’t figured out how to offer it.)
Augustin: Why do developers have so much interest in Iphone? Because it’s global, and they make money on it.
Roberto: Operators are investing a LOT of money in infrastructure. IP is very risky to operators. IP traditionally has meant intelligence at the edge, and there’s a big risk that all the operator’s investments will be bypassed. Used Google Maps while driving to Bordeaux – they could locate him within 2KM with no agreements or funds paid to the mobile operator.
David (when asked what should be exposed) – call control, location, authentication, billing,
Augustin: The hottest capabilities in web 2.0 (location, presence) used to be telco capabilities. We need to recapture the initiative in exposing them.
Kris: Nobody is talking about call control.
David: Microsoft is working closely with the enterprise players (PBX, IPPBX), and that includes call control.
Aepona person: Described one of the things he worked on for the health care industry in the UK – they have predictive models to figure out how much care they can give without going over government reimbursement limits which they want to use in appointment scheduling, and really wanted to incorporate voice and SMS in their appointment scheduling
Comment from audience: Consider experience with SMS in Norway in Sweeden. One country had much more business for SMS early – why? It was cheaper. Eventually cheap SMS became Europe wide, and it had APIs so everyone could build to it – it’s ubiquitous. Old habits die hard – When you ask people to vote, Swedes dial the phone, Norse use SMS. (Comment – and Americans go to a web site!)
Augustin: Developers are lazy – if you have one API that works everywhere they will use it. Hundreds of APIs each of which works differently and in a different place isn’t interesting to them.
Roberto: his wife does not like technology, but spent a fortune on SMS. He bought her a blackberry – 10 Euros gave her the terminal and email (Comment – WOW! I think Blackberries go for at least $100 in the US and the data plans are much more). WiMax is interesting competition – 25 Euros gives you unlimited data and roaming, Voice is 10 Euros more.
Questioner: Issue is business model, has to be the same at least on a country-wide basis.
Roberto – presence is about your social network. You install and use the one that your friends have because it’s valuable to you. (i.e. it’s not just about whether your phone is on or not). As terminals get smarter and capable of supporting applications, users will download their favorite presence application and use it. Operators don’t own the customer, they are enablers.
David – Not a black or white world, it’s about partnerships. They worked with the Number 3 mobile company in France to integrate MSN messenger in the phone client. They were quite successful with it. Working with Orange on Windows Live Messenger, they developed a shared service that combines the messenger client with capabilities from Orange (back office, billing, etc.).
Augustin: Don’t focus on your platform, focus on the developers, what they want – interesting APIs that are global, free, and available and allow them to get revenue. Has to have SDK and open source applications.
The work was on general service capabilities, but the presentation will focus only on presence information. Presence is a set of attributes that provides properties of “presentities”. A Presentity is a uniquely identifiable entity with status. There are watchers of presentitity status. (Comment – I presented a concept like this, multiple identities for presence ,in a VON event in about 2000, and also had an ICIN paper on it in 2001, though I don’t know if it was published since I could not go. I was told the concept went back further.)
He described a classic subscribe/notify model of presence information sharing, using XML based definitions of what is of interest and what is being notified, and an XML based scheme for defining permissions. A major problem with this service is the amount of traffic that is generated for the notifications.
His solution used a group manager to store the presence information and manage it. In addition to presence it could be used to monitor status of many things, including providing an on-line betting forum?
Question: (Roberto) What is the security. Answer: The XCAP protocol (an XML based presence protocol) uses TLS for security but it doesn’t support all of the things his scheme does.
Question: (Chet McQuaid) If betting is a possibility would it also work for customer surveys and ratings? Maybe.
Presence enablers available today include SIP/Simple PIDF and RPID (data formats for describing presence.), 3GPP defined iFC to describe presence, and OMA, which has many specifications for presence.
The problem is that it is difficult to set status because there are too many ways to do it, and the result is there is no motivation to use it. (Comment – I rarely fool with anything but the automatic presence in applications like Skype. I don’t think it’s the underlying stuff that makes it hard, I think its user laziness.)
Two classes of interfaces are competing for many things in web services, SOAP, and REST. He indicated that where both are available something like 85% of new applications use the REST form. Currently all the presence APIs use SOAP, which may be difficult to use. His basic proposal is to use a REST interface to express presence.
Somehow this was combined with the use of Avatars (cartoon figures) to describe presence. (He cited some RFPs which translate presence state descriptions into XML, but I don’t see where the avatars came in).
He showed a video that showed the user interfaces for a couple of applications including a Microsoft scheduling applications modified to make use of the IMS presence service using REST.
Question (Ulrich Rieber): Has NTT extended this concept into other services like shared TV watching. Answer – REST is a difficult interface for telecom operators because it’s not very secure so there is a reluctance to put a lot of information in it.
Question (Chet McQuaid): Did you look at the traffic implications of allowing people to finely describe their presence (mood) and would it swamp the presence server. Answer – this is future work.
How can we do more than just busy/not busy to enable more value? The carrier knows the user’s status and the user’s location, if we can add the location’s context we can enable a lot of different services. The idea seems to be to associate properties with particular location and automatically infer information about the user’s context. The owner of a location specifies the context of the location (i.e. what it’s for, why people might be there), and the technology identifies when people enter a particular location zone.
There are a lot of existing technologies for location, they mainly didn’t do anything new there, but they did look at Bluetooth as a location technology – put a small Bluetooth device in a location zone that will connect with and identify devices coming into range as a way of noticing who is in a particular area.
The next thing of interest is registering a zone, and the process depends on technologies, for example, with cellular triangulation, you don’t have to install anything to create a zone, but you have to describe the location in detail. With RFID or Bluetooth you don’t have to describe it, (the location is whatever is in range), but you have to install the receivers in the areas you want to have in the zone.
Different locations drive different communication practices (e.g. you may want calls on your home phone if you are home but your cell phone in some other areas). You may have a preference of SMS or voice depending on where you are and a service that can translate between SMS and voice. There are also quiet zones ringing phones are prevented. If you had the location technology to infer that a person was in a quiet place you could automatically change the person’s phone profile in response.
She described an architecture for this that first identified from raw data what zone the user is in, then filtered that information for significance before passing it on to the presence server to avoid swamping the network with location updates.
An interesting scenario – detect the presence of multiple people in one place at work as a meeting and automatically change the zone to a quiet zone so that calls will stop going where people don’t want them.
There are other uses possible – detect when a person is in a store’s zone and use that information plus the person’s past interaction with the store to determining what advertising they get.
IBM started down the path of Bluetooth based location when they couldn’t get other location information. There were lots of objections to making it work, but she said that the technology does allow rapid identification of a Bluetooth device provided it is on. On average 10-20% of people carry an enabled Bluetooth device. More people do so in a business setting.
In response to a question about the desirability of advertising she said a lot depends on how you ask the question – ask people if they are willing to get “push” advertising and 85% say no. Ask if they would like to get discount coupons based on location and 90% say “yes”
Question: How do you make this work across many handsets. Looking at standardization.
Question: Who defines Zones? Anyone.
Question: Do you need SIP Handsets? No, SIP is used internally, no requirement on how the handset communicates with the network.
Question: Aren’t there privacy problems? This has to be a buy in kind of service. People are beginning to realize that the telco knows where their mobile phone is all the time. It’s only scary if people feel they have no benefit from it. Lots of applications are gaining acceptance because there are benefits (e.g. finding family members or tracking Alzheimers patients)
Question: With multiple technologies for detection how do you handle cases where they produce different answers? Answer – they put a lot of effort into this. They have established a default priority for the system but provide for applications to set their own priority. For example, some applications may care which room I am in in a building, others only that I am in the building or not.
Question: What about overlapping zones? Answer – this is like the last issue – a person can be in multiple zones, and the application gets to decide what it is interested in.
(Comment – this may be the best “Presence” paper I’ve seen. The services are useful, the technology is plausible. Where do I sign up)
Question from Bernard to NTT speaker: The mood indicator has a potential misunderstanding. If you way you are sleepy and forget to remove it would you get in trouble with your boss? Should the system automatically remove moods over time? Answer seemed to be that for him changing his mood was not difficult. The IBM speaker suggested that maybe mood should be attached to who is viewing presence (i.e. to your boss you are never sleepy)
Question: Sometimes it would be useful for the user to get notification if they enter a particular zone, some times it is interesting some times it isn’t. Can it be done? Yes, it could be done with an ICON on the phone or an SMS or USSB message to change status.
General Question from Bernard: For all, what are the privacy/security concerns. Answer (IBM) Separate privacy and security. Security is about using secure networking, that’s easy. Privacy is context dependent. Some information I want to share, other information I don’t want to. Applications need to have a richer definition of privacy rules. For Facebook you set your status and everyone sees it, what you really want is tthat you set status and the people you allow to see it will see it but nobody else. The standards support this kind of selectivity even of not all applications do it now. NTT – our prototype just focused on how to use the API. Privacy is future work. OMA supports privacy rules, but implementation is difficult.
The paper was presented by one of Claudio’s colleagues, M. Valla. The premise is that mobile devices have gotten powerful enough to have lots of applications available and downloaded to the point where choosing the application has become difficult, as has customizing it. Having the network do so based on Context has value.
He presented two applications based on SPICE, a recently completed European research project: The dynamic desktop, which chooses which widgets to display based on context, and the terminal manager, which synchronizes content with other devices based on what network technology and battery condition is available.
The architecture included an XML rule engine and a collection of sensors that allow it to observe relevant conditions, like network configuration and system configuration. There is a GUI which allows creation and modification of rules. The engine activates applications based on the firing of rules. There are 3 conditions supported, Clock (periodic), value (when something achieves a specified value, and change (when some condition changes.
The specific rule language was chosen to be simple, XML based, human friendly, and satisfy W3C standards for XML languages (RIC).
While they have a user interface to allow users to specify rules, they really want to automatically generate rules based on user behavior (e.g. if I check email at a particular time then it should be able to infer that I want to do it all the time. The interface to this has 3 capabilities – view the behavior detected, view the user’s rules, and view the inferred rules.
They have prototyped this, but apparently not trialed it on any large scale. Some of the things they want to do going forward include:
One basic capability providers need is feed aggregation, where information from multiple sources gets integrated into a single view. He gave netvibes as an example, which displayed many different kinds of information each in a small window. The information comes from feeds supplied by different web site providers. This is very oriented towards data, not services (Comment – not just that, it’s really oriented only towards sites that export data in a compatible format.)
Orange sought to use the same concepts (aggregation and widgets) to aggregate different telecommunications services.
The main components of their services include a collection of client components in Java script, including parser, downloader, and preference manager, and the server side consisting of a database that includes preferences and user information and services.
The key success factors for IMS are not only the availability of IMS clients, but the user experience they offer. This requires a client for both mobile terminals and for fixed client.
There are no standards for clients. The focus on standardization has been on the network, but the client is where the user experience will actually come from. The mobile phone has become a very powerful computer, and it’s like a laptop without the benefit of a popular definition of an operating system or interface.
The state of the art includes some core APIs for IMS capabilities add services. One alternative is to put a Java client on top of this that works on the device. Another alternative is to push the client implementation in the network, using only browsing/display capabilities in the device. Service invocation is now through network capabilities rather than APIs on the device. This is more general and more easily adaptable. This uses JSP (java Server Page) and cascading style sheets to handle different terminals and capabilities.
They did a proof of concept as a joint project with ALU and others, demonstrating the universal user interface. The worst problem was that it was cumbersome – too many clicks to get to where you wanted to be.
Noted that the audience here is organized neatly in rows, a computer would probably order people by height or alphabetically, but a human being might prefer to organize the room according to what they are trying to convey to the audience (customers in front, vendors in pack, single women in front, others in back, etc.) The trouble with mobile devices is that we have exceeded the ability of human beings to visualize the information on those small screens based on computer provided organizations. Humans know how to navigate spaces in 3 dimensions. We can handle horizontal or vertical navigation on devices, but not both at the same time. That produces a keyhole effect (region you are working in is too small). Web pages are designed for big screens. Ideally on a small screen you want the information of interest to come first, but typically the upper left corner of a page contains useless stuff, and the information of interest is well down. Some systems (iPhone, Opera mini) have managed small screens pretty well and learned some lessons:
He showed some trends in screens. Resolution (pixels per inch) is getting denser, almost to that of paper, and “landscape” phones are becoming more popular (landscape mode works better to fit the web.
Showed a couple of music players, which use a hierarchical menu – the problem is most of the stuff they show is useless, menu levels and choices you aren’t interested, and the few items you get to see are cut off at the right.
He showed a demo using the music itself as the interface (album covers) you organized it yourself by directly manipulating the icons on the screen with your fingers. You could get a lot more information onto the screen and a lot more of it was relevant.
I presented a set of mobile needs and a comparison of 4 architectures to serve them. I got relatively few questions on it. My main messages are
Many users won’t use the full capability of their phone because they wont download, install, and manage applications. What’s the solution? The buzzword is widgets – small applications that can be downloaded and installed easily, but it doesn’t quite work.
What’s another problem? Personalization. Personalization enhances business by making it easier for the user to use services and by making it harder to switch carriers and lose it. Personalization can be done explicitly or implicitly, but explicit personalization takes effort from the user.. What they provided was a personalization framework that automatically configures and personalizes the user’s communications through widgets without requiring explicit action from the user.
You obtain new applications by dragging and dropping widgets off a browser screen onto an image of your phone, then the next time you synchronize the phone the applications are automatically installed. Usage is tracked for how often and how, and the result is automatically personalized. Next time you go to configuration the system will use this information to suggest additional things you might want. (Comment – like recommendations from Amazon).
This meets the needs of casual users well, power users want to manage them themselves. There are security issues, especially with giving widgets access to local information. (Comment – yes, this is exactly where Microsoft and others made the mistake that gave us a host of security issues and the need to do virus scans. You might solve it with some kind of sandbox environment. I don’t know).
He said that the next step is going for standards of widgets. Not sure where, Bondi group (standardizes widgets) or W3C.
Question – you show this being done through the network, can you do it locally? Yes, but not clear why.
The real need for new services is to be easy to use, easy as the telephone. Second, new services have to be home electronics friendly (that means it doesn’t require a PC, the idea is to be able to control a DVR or other device remotely using only the telephone as a keyboard). Third it has to be NGN friendly, working with SIP and SBCs.
Some example applications included remotely setting up recording on a DVR, transferring pictures to a digital picture frame, and remote office. (Comment – interesting, just last year I considered buying a digital frame for my 88 year old mother and rejected the idea because controlling it was beyond her. Not sure that this would help a true technophobe)
The architecture here uses a residential gateway, which includes connections to the NGN, the telephone and a home LAN. The electronic devices and PCs hang off the LAN. In order to enable communication across the NGN, two LANs are joined by a VPN tunnel (Comment – the home gateway here is very similar to a device being designed by a small company I have worked with who were looking at it as an extension of a DSL or Cable Modem.)
The service uses telephone dialing and numbering to create the VPN tunnel and authenticate and approve it.
Question (Bernard) Do you need a special client on the electronics to interact with the VPN? No, it’s transparent.
Question (Max Michel,
Talked about RFID and characteristics of RFID. The Near Field Communication Forum defines standards for all of this (I guess that’s what NFC in the title meant.) The focus has been on payment and ticketing as key applications.
Security is a key issue for this.
One scenario is associating some digital media with an object – a song attached to a bouquet of flowers, which plays on their music player when it gets in range. Another example was one where the user would touch his mobile near an advertising billboard and pick up information related to that poster, then take the phone home and touch it near his TV to play it. (Example, a preview of a CD, movie DVD, or concert, which after a few minutes would offer the opportunity to buy it.
He went through the architecture for the touch example based on RFID. The touch interpretation system interprets where the user touched the phone and what the context is, then feeds that to an application which decides what to do, then interfaces with a media system to launch the download.
He presented different business models for advertising based services, Pay Per View (PPV) Pay Per Click (PPC), and Pay per Action (PPA). Pay Per Click is relatively easy to monitor but very subject to fraud. This is the major model used for advertising. Pay Per Action is based on the user actually doing something in response to the ad. The action is reported by the advertiser. It has a better measure of results (but is hard to do and subject to fraud by the advertiser.)
The main problem with PPA is social – Advertisers may misreport what they are getting as actions and in effect cheat. Also the advertiser bears the cost of collecting and reporting data. The solution proposed here was assuming that the “action” would result in a phone call, allowing the telecom service provider to detect and report it as a neutral 3rd party. (Comment – this just struck me as strange, since if the intent is for people to pay for ads that result in business transactions, these days that is much more likely to occur as the result of a web click than a phone call. It struck me that you might be able to build a 3rd party mediator that monitors the customer’s internet traffic and detects a successful purchase.)
Session Linkage amounted to two customers sharing the same session (e.g. sharing a web session). The concept was to use a SIP session to authenticate both users and then allow them to create a shared session.
This session had the unenviable role of opening the day following the Gala dinner, and as a result attendance was lighter, and my personal attention less focused than this topic would normally warrant.
Roberto organized his talk around 4 myths about the network. The first one he addressed was the “myth” of network transparency. Why do we have myths? -- Because we want to simplify the view of the situation for people so that they do not have to worry about unimportant details. We assert networks are transparent because we don’t want programmers to worry about what is happening in them. In fact a lot has to go on inside the network to enable this. (Comment – true, but that’s not what I know as network transparency, which to me means only that the network will not interfere with what is sent through it or discriminate based on which endpoints are communicating or what they are communicating)
One problem – Abstraction Inversion – too many concepts wind up being handled inside layers of abstraction when in fact programmers need to deal with some of the details and wind up re-inventing the things that were abstracted away. He gave an example of a system that abstracted signaling (SS7 and MGCP) away from the programmer in an abstract interface. The service being implemented in fact needed the details abstracted away.
Simplicity of middleware. He quoted Kumar Vemuri from Lucent (Comment – Kumar worked for me and published a paper in ICIN in 2000) talking about how while we want call models to be simple to make it easy to control, in fact the complexity of the model (states and transition) gives you extra functionality. You can address this by subdividing a complex model into multiple state models, each of which is simple.
Recent work (University of London) suggested that in applications, specifically for mobile networks, the application needs to be aware of a lot of the underlying structure. He gave some definitions and theorems about converting non-deterministic automata into deterministic to reflect all of the states underneath, then proposed to layer the abstraction (stairs), where each level builds on the layer underneath but does not hide it. The application chooses which level it interfaces to.
Myth number 2 – Call control is not interesting. If Not Call Control – What else? This refers to the assertion that the interesting services are not call control. He talked a bit about the complexity of the data that the carrier has. I think the message here was that the network operators have a lot to offer by exposing some of the data that they have about customers and customer behavior. (Comment – there probably is interesting data owned by the operator, but the operator is very vulnerable to criticism for abusing user privacy. Another observation here is that as end-user devices become more capable, they are capable of collecting all the same data. Much has been said about the ability of the network operator to offer billing and payment, for example, but a smart endpoint can do a better job by caching several of the user’s payment alternatives (credit, debit, Paypal, etc.) and offering choices. Endpoints keep call logs and address books and record usage information now.)
Myth number 3 – Networking with Quality. The problem is that we don’t have a single network, we have a “network of networks” and it becomes impossible to have QoS. On the other hand his statement was that you could deliver QoS “over the top” (Comment – not sure what he was getting at)
Myth number 4 – the need for Centralization. He presented a counter example based on Skype. Skype centralizes very little and in fact that is distributed among multiple nodes at the top of a hierarchy.
Question: Is Skype a better competitor than IMS? Answer – No, Skype isn’t a direct competitor. It is easy to use. If you want to compete with
He started by expressing his interest in the fact that this conference highlights the role of application developers. His focus is on mobile clients that run on the mobile device. His organization worked on a research implementation of an IMS client in 2005, and it quickly became very complex and difficult to manage. The original structure was a disorganized set of applications on a few core functions. They restructured it as a base client with a set of plug ins that implement core functions (tightly integrated but separate), then a bunch of things that don’t integrate tightly with the client (gaming, 3rd party aps, etc.) both running on an “IMS Kernel”. It all runs on Windows Mobile (They will talk about other operating systems.)
He described how a new component was integrated into the client without disturbing or being aware of proprietary information in the client.
He talked about their plug in GUI framework. (Comment – this stuff didn’t look easy. It’s a fairly complex structure, and they didn’t address any of the configuration required, it’s all done manually). Unfortunately it looks a bit like reproducing a lot of the complexity of Windows on the end-user device. Maybe needed for some things, but I would hope that we have learned something from the desktop experience and can do a better job with our mobile devices.)
He talked about the communication interfaces and specifically that there are two levels, one aware of all of the SIP details and one high level. He also talked about the communication between plug in components and how you can plug things in between pieces of the standard client to filter events.
All of the “client” functions, both standard and plug ins from others runs in a single process/address space. There are applications that run in separate processes. He talked a bit about the details including the mechanisms for communication and how they dealt with limitations of the windows mobile environment and the need to do things that do not waste battery power (i.e. don’t write an application which loops looking for an asynchronous event).
Some sample interfaces – touch dial, a search for contacts, predictive IMS interactive messaging, and something that displays the user’s reachability via different underlying networks.
He talked about applications that used only the kernel – one that showed the weather (getting SIP based notifications of updates, which gives better performance).
Another was machine-to-person interaction that allowed others to send a notification to you and get a response (example was an eBay bidding system). All of this was in the network, no “widgets” installed on the client.
Question – did you look at what happened in parallel in the Java world (JSR 281) It would be interesting to see if the came up with the same abstractions. Answer – yes, but it was hard to find a phone that actually implemented the standard. They weren’t stable. Now it’s better. Most of the things that were overlapping and similar were in the area of SIP messaging, the higher level functions are completely different.
Question – What about “Appliance Rich Communication”? Answer – they are putting together demos and looking at productizing (didn’t answer her question).
Question: You apparently had problems with asynchronous communication. Others have succeeded and built similar applications. Why?
Question: Have you tried to integrate circuit switched call control? Answer – yes, they did test this with call control for circuit switching underneath (GMS) The ability to do either was a requirement from the start.
The work comes from Telenor and is part of the Mobicome project.
There are a lot of social networking services that work over the internet. Many involve communication, it would be nice to be able to do it using the internet. Web2.0 has developed a lot of interesting techniques for building services, but they don’t necessarily get along with the IMS world – different views on security, “real time” vs best effort, performance issues, different user expectations (e.g. what does “availability” mean in an environment where there are many services and many network providers. Is something available if only 9/10 services work? Is 99.99% availability useful if the .01% failure happens only when people really need it?
She gave an interesting example of presence where some of the presentities represented things rather than people – i.e. the detection of a radio station or proximity to a WiFi network, or a condition like the price of a stock.
The main body of the paper/presentation was work from her Ph.D. thesis defining new ways to consider presence and availability. One scenario was dealing with the conversion of presence information, in this case buddy lists, from an existing networking service to the IMS environment. She described a structure which integrated external presence events and notifications. Then she applied a view of service availability which computed some weighted view of the availability of data and importance in each external domain to compute a view of service availability of this composite service. (Comment – I found this very confusing because at times “availability” referred to the notion of availability in a presence service, while at others it referred to service availability)
Question: Won’t the user get flooded with information from such an integrated presence service? And don’t you need filtering? Answer – yes, that’s what the concept of weighting by importance is for
We keep putting higher technologies with higher abstraction into network services, but at the same time still use the same basic physical equipment and equipment with long service life. How to fill the gap? One key element is service composition – putting existing services together into new ones through composition.
He presented a view where someone might have different kinds of network architecture, Circuit Switched, VoIP, and IMS, and different control architectures on each, but want to support common 3rd party services on all and provide a unified experience for the customer across all 3. (Comment – picture looked a lot like some of mine, building services that work across multiple domains)
The objectives for orchestration include the ability to be dynamic to adapt quickly for niche markets, independent of the network and service layer, simple, and “carrier grade”. He talked about SCIM as an orchestration implementation but dependent on the specifics of IMS (HSS). (Comment – yes, but the concepts extend easily)
His architecture was based on a real-time Java container and had at the bottom adaptors to various network signaling, then an abstract session control, then real-time service orchestration, and on top services and service adaptors which connected to specific external servers. The real-time orchestration was XML driven and used information retrieved from an external web server holding XML descriptions of what is done (State Chart XML, a W3C standard) He went through a lot of characteristics of SCML, which implements nested and parallel state machines and actions triggered on transition, including entering and exiting states. It’s easy to customize and can use a scripting language to trigger actions. It is composable (logic can invoked as a sub-routine.
He gave a simple example of VPN and Prepaid services being used on one call using a simple script to trigger the services in separate SCPs.
Question: How does this relate to W3C work on service brokering? Answer – not familiar in detail with the spec but believes that their platform is an implementation of the W3C concept.
Question: How can you do this without interfering with protocols? Answer – The service and network adaptors handle the mapping of protocols into a common independent format.
Question: If we have to express the service we are defining as XML, don’t you need to reproduce the underlying protocols as APIs? Parlay mapped everything into common APIs, but the result was a very limited set of capabilities (Too much lost in abstraction) How do you do this? Answer – the adaptors cheat! The high level interfaces are used for service orchestration, but the service adaptors can go around the abstraction level and talk directly to the underlying network adaptors to work in the raw protocol.
Communication time has doubled in the past few years, but “fixed” has been declining, while Mobile has been only slow in growth and the big new communication player is the web (or internet, Skype, Google, etc.)
Is this a benefit or a threat to communication service providers? Key is to provide some value and capture some of the web traffic. The winning strategy is to take advantage of the social networking phenomenon. Users are not just Consumers, but also Producers of information (“Prosumer” – he made a comparison to the camera market, which is the place I have heard this term before and didn’t know that he intended it in the same way, someone between a pure consumer and a media professional.)
There’s a lot of technology to do this that implements mashups. In order to be responsive in this world you need extreme time to market, so things need to be deployed quickly in “perpetual beta mode”.
Some interesting statistics on Facebook – 40,000 developers and 1500 new applications less than 1 month after the API was released. Users are overwhelmed, over 4400 applications now.
Web2.0 development cycle is quite different. Instead of massive testing, they expose the system to users early and rapidly respond to feedback, fixing problems and adding and dropping features in response.
Another problem the network operator faces is one of perception. Stuff from the network operator is automatically seen as boring. Have to somehow change this perception.
He presented 3 business models – one based on open collaboration, opening APIs to MVNOs or Web2.0 companies. The idea here is not having people build directly for your network but bridge services managed by some other company into your network.
One interesting thing he described was interfacing to Second Life – they wanted to allow participants to communicate including prepaid billing. The problem was that people in Second Life are anonymous and you don’t want to reveal their real identity in providing the service.
A second model is for a company to manage their own ecosystem of application developers. You can also open an API that the developers build on and have it managed by a 3rd party.
Another example was to expose an API which allowed a Facebook application to send SMS messages. Roberto’s work is actually on the SDE for this – a web based plug together environment that allows a developer to put together widgets from a large library to create new applications.
Question – how close is this to commercial launch? Answer – it’s there technically, but the key business people have to be convinced that this is in Telecom Italia’s interests (Security, revenue, risks).
Erik was formerly with BEA which is where the work really comes from I believe. Who is in the room (Telecom Architects, Business Analysis, Researches, Developers). But, who do we want to be – Service Architects, Composers, Service Seekers, Consumer Advocates.
What’s important in the presentation title is Agility and IMS together -- The ability to rapidly build applications that use communication. He cited a personal example – he keeps bees and built something that would weigh his bee hives and use GPRS to report the data.
He referred to Agile Software Development as the model as a goal. He presented a structure where you had multiple silos of service development (IPTV, Telephony, Content, etc.) then two points of composition, one using the SCIM on the network side, and one using SOA and Web services on top. The idea is allow each service domain to build what it needs and how it wants but to integrate around the products rather than have to build something universal. (Comment – this is very interesting. Complexity and difficulty goes up non-linearly as the scope increases and if this is a way of segmenting to keep the scope small.)
He described the Clover coffee machine, which is the ultimate coffee brewing machine, and is internet enabled, so you can create a profile describing how you want your coffee made (including brewing temperature, roasting characteristics, etc.), then re-use it somewhere else with a similar machine.
Traditionally service deployment in telco has been 18 months. Using Agility they have gotten it down to 3 months. The Goal is 3 weeks, which is still forever in internet terms but good for Telco
There are tons of services and applications everywhere, the real problem is finding ones that bring revenue.
She showed an interesting long tail chart, which was overlain with different models in different parts of the space – “Walled garden” for the popular stuff, Partnerships in the middle, then some open interfaces for 3rd parties in the long tail.
She presented an SDE in layers with different tools in different layers – service development, composition, integration. Is that enough? She looked at several scenarios, one building social networking tools, one doing a mashup, one doing an enterprise portal.
When she looked at using the telco SDP for social networking she found a lot of gaps between what was needed and easy to use and what was available. She looked at mashup tools which were out there. (Comment there are lots of them and I recognized only a couple. Looks like an area to brush up on).
She showed some examples that used mashup tools to put together different kinds of mashup tools to build things that then using a service gateway function would connect to the telecom network and allow the service that is built to take advantage of the capabilities of the networks
Question (Telecom Italia) – how do you handle the expectation of reliability and does the operator become liable for problems in such a complex structure? Talked about how this works today. The questioner followed up with some specifics with how they worked with BT on this. She didn’t reveal any problems they had.
Question (Bernard Villain) – For all, These presentation are all Telco centric – taking stuff from the outside to make our services. Isn’t this the wrong model? Google and the like want to take Telco piece parts to enhance their offerings. Erik – spot on, it’s about who gets there first. That’s why Agility is key. At the worst we are just bit pipes, maybe we get to expose some services, the ideal is that we control the environment and create the high value services or have them created on our platforms. Roberto – have to think about the user. For web users it’s tough. Think about other markets – game market is huge, players are moving towards networked virtual reality. This is a great market for the operator because there are no standards or entrenched players. If we can get there with something attractive we can participate in a huge market. (Comment – Telcos have always been reluctant to participate in gaming in my experience Maybe this is just true of the US companies that descend from AT&T, but gaming was always a dangerous thing to propose in getting support for new services work because too many people either thought of it as frivolous or associated it with gambling.)
He went through a pretty good introduction to what and SDP is and why it’s hard, talking about the need to push APIs down in the network allowing software to be downloaded into devices and embedded components.
Clustering Basics – a Cluster uses a bunch of processors running the same software base to serve a series of user events. The first problem with session oriented services is that you have to direct requests related to a session to a processor that already holds the appropriate data, rather than a new one. To make it reliable you need replication of session data. You want it in 2 or 3 nodes, not all (for performance reasons).
What are the issues for SIP Servlets:
Mix of protocols (SIP, Diameters, HTTP, SS7, etc.
Mix of technologies
Different types of interactions (est effort, RPC, etc.)
Different thread patterns (blocking or non-blocking, publish/subscribe)
It’s not always obvious where the session context is. Consider conferencing, where the participants may not be known by the balancer. Sometimes the same service has both HTTP and SIP components and that means two load balancers which may make different decision. Failure is another issue, if the node holding the primary copy of the session data fails, how does the load balancer know which other node knows that? (Comment – that can be solved with the re-assignment of local IP addresses – the backup assumes the identify of the primary and the load balancer doesn’t have to know that anything happened.)
He tackled the replication problem and presented some alternatives for finding the replicated information. Using smart keys, each node knows its buddy and the load balancer knows how that is computed. Another is dynamic hash tables, where a session ID is hashed to find the primary and secondary.
He presented an API for writing applications, one of which used a lightweight transaction protocol where an application can specify a set of operations to be performed as a transaction, and either all or none will happen as a result. This allows the code to be shared without a “heavyweight” threading/concurrency mechanism. (Comment – nothing really much new here yet.)
Their experience is with programmers has been positive. They like this in providing a very lightweight way of recording permanent data associated with a service session without a lot of overhead. It’s in production in several ALU products.
Question: What’s the performance impact. Answer: Miniscule compared the the SIP processing. (Comment – Performance and Java are an interesting mix. I would expect that the basic overhead of doing dynamic protocols in Java is worse than either the concurrency or the protocol impacts.
Question: How does it scale? Answer – pretty well, them make use of publish/subscribe to guarantee scaling of key pieces.
Ad Hoc networks consist of devices with no pre=arranged structure, mobile phones, military applications, laptops in a conference room, etc.
IMS SIP Servlets are not immediately compatible with Mobile Ad Hoc Networks (MANETS). The problems include the business model: IMS is a centralized model and puts too many of the resource intensive functions in central (network supplied) functions. There are resource problems as well – SIP Servlet is sufficiently “heavy weight” that it’s not going to run on a mobile device. (Comment – I didn’t think this was true, but he may have some specific implementation of servlets in mind)
The proposed solution broke the sip servlet environment down into components that allowed it to be distributed across multiple members of a MANET. The pieces are connected via a very lightweight interaction protocol.
They built a prototype with two objectives – prove you can do it, and measure the performance. For a session with 2 nodes the response time was almost 5 times as long, but the penalty got less with the number of nodes added to the session. (Comment – I’m not sure exactly how this is done. It looked like he was adding users incrementally. The other question is how many SIP sessions ever have more than 2 nodes. Even in so-called conference situations, the sessions are often constructed as each participant talks to a server rather than talking to each other.
(Interesting, he introduced himself in French, and to my untrained ear his French was better than his English.)
The need for an SDP is driven by the integration of multiple domains, NGN, Enterprise computing and internet/web. (Comment – I guess it’s the same everywhere. It would be interesting to hear from some place where there was a fundamentally different force.)
Their approach seems to be relatively strict IMS – a Service broker (SCIM) on top of the session layer, then internal app servers and a Parlay/X gateway to 3rd party servers. He went through some simple scenarios involving session control extracted through abstract interface.
Their SCIM function is based on SIP Servlet because it’s the most widely accepted standard. (Interesting, It must not be possible to orchestrate based on events/messages that don’t map well into SIP sessions). The details included using BPEL to describe the composition of service components via a service bus. The scripts are stored in a profile database and created using an SDE. There are controls on execution governed by SLAs, as well as authentication. Orchestration is based on context to select the appropriate components (e.g. implement different ways to access a personal schedule depending on where the user is.)
They prototyped this to understand it, but no deployment is currently planned.
Question: Your charts showed web services used on the “southbound” side – the service running on your platform invokes web services elsewhere. Do you also have a way of exposing capabilities and services to others as web services? The answer wasn’t clear, so a follow up asked whether they would expose services to all or contract with specific 3rd parties who would be allowed to build services? I think the answer was really focused on the latter approach. (Comment – this is interesting, many interesting questions in service architecture and implementation come down to “who is in control”. Telecom people generally architect systems where the Telecom world is in control and calls out to the web world to get things done, yet the web world generally architects it so the service is in control and invokes capabilities from wherever it needs. I think this is a lot of what creates broad usability – if the developer has to work in a world where someone else is in control, he/she has to write for a specific platform and often needs some business relationship with the provider of that platform, but by structuring it so the capabilities are just out there and can be used openly without any constraints on the platform used by the service you empower people to come up with new uses.)
There were a total of 11 Poster presentations. I didn’t have a chance to talk to all of the presenters, here are the summaries for the ones I did see.
This was a mobile conference service. The Mobile phone has both voice and data connectivity. The Voice is hauled by the mobile network through the PSTN to an Asterisk based platform which provides the conferencing, and the data connects to a Web2.0 based control. It provides basic setup of conferencing, display of who is talking, the ability to add parties either as private side conversations or to the public conference. They also provide application sharing to display powerpoint and other applications on all screens (not sure where the application runs). This is an evolving service they are trialing. (Comment – two interesting things – first, the very centralized nature of the architecture – all the voice streams go to an internal server which has all the “smarts” to figure out who gets what audio, including really smart things like suppression of echoes. Second, the separation of control and transport allows them to use the web for what it’s good for (control) and re-use the PSTN as is.)
The poster basically just
reproduced the short paper. The
interesting thing was talking to the presenter about the migration
problem. He says that IPV4 exhaust will
happen in 2 years (no new addresses left), and that it happens everywhere in
the world, mainly because ISPs from regions that exhaust first will join
regions that have remaining capacity and trade addresses. (e.g. addresses
allocated to Africa may show up in
This work exposed the session control from IMS as well as access to certain profile data via web services, with a server on the web side integrating the two to provide services.
This contribution basically described a system that provided a service to deliver notification to a variety of places – mobile phone, fixed phone, TV, internet, etc. It was described more as a concept – notification independent of medium The system figures out how to deliver it. (Comment This is a nice concept. As with a lot of others it’s been out there in theory a long time. Unfortunately, the problem has been that operators don’t share the right interfaces, and even when they do the huge variety of ways to produce notification on phones and set top TV boxes makes this difficult to do in practice. The author thought this was a solved problem, that operators were cooperating to provide it. In my experience this hasn’t happened yet.)
This described the application of model driven development to decompose services and then map them onto different network and device architectures using different composition rules (Widgets, BPEL, etc.). He talked about building in the ability to iterate the solution, but it wasn’t clear.
This was a presentation and demonstration of a user interface approach which provided voice, touch, and motion as ways of making selections and supplying input on a mobile device. The architecture was implemented on 3 different architectures (SmartPhone, Java, and Windows Mobile), and different devices. Depending on the device different functions happened in the device or in the network (e.g. speech recognition was in the device on some, but in the network using Java). The demonstration was impressive, using speech to select address book entries and to fill in configuration menu items in a noisy room (maybe even more impressive was that he was speaking in German to set some configuration information based on dates, while the display was in English. The motion capability used optical or motion sensors in the phone to detect it being tilted and allow menu entries to roll in response. On some phones it also provided some feedback by shaking the phone as things moved.
In addition to the “cool” factor, the result was interesting because of the potential application to people with disabilities.
Steffan Uellner and Stuart Sharrock summed up the common themes from the conference:
· Estimating the business value of new services and applications: There are some processes and tools emerging as well as tools for predicting the end-to-end user experience. (Comment – maybe, but what I heard in MANY sessions was the lack of understanding of what services would earn money)
Stuart was able to announce that ICIN 2009 will be the week of 10/26 in Bordeaux. Dan Fahrrman (Ericsson) will be the next TPC Chair, looking forward to creating the program for 2009. (The committees held a planning session immediately following the conference and I learned some additional details. The plan is to hold the 2009 conference in the City of Bordeaux, probably in the Cite Mondial conference center. Expect the call for papers to come out in December or January with abstracts due the end of March.