With the world's economies behaving like roller coasters, maximising efficiencies and squeezing every last ounce of performance, value and profit from product implementations is crucial in order to remain competitive.
The Converged Application Platform has emerged as the most flexible and cost effective solution to meet the demand for "Triple Play" service applications.
Optimising developments by outsourcing hardware platforms and focusing on software value brings further economic benefit. This paper examines both elements and shows how they create a winning combination that can seriously enhance your bottom line.
To go forward it's helpful to step back for a moment and consider how we got to where we are and realise that change is here to stay.
Technology and economic evolution
When we think of the world of communications many descriptors immediately come to mind; high technology, fast paced, innovative, rapid change, adaptive, evolving.
The last ten years or so could certainly be described this way but it may surprise you to know that the telecommunications industry of the past was significantly more sedate and even snail-like by today's standards.
Believe it or not the world of switching and telephone exchanges owes much to an undertaker from Kansas City. Almon Strowger developed the first automated telephone switch out of electromagnets and hat pins and was awarded a patent on his invention in 1891.
Strowger's fundamental design (without the hat pins) ran the core of our networks for the next 80-100 years! While development and enhancements continued, the last Strowger switches weren't removed from major networks until the 1990s. Digital switches and exchanges were first introduced in the late 1970s, and the 80s saw the major transition to an all digital network, the same one the majority of calls are carried on today.
So how do we get from here to the world of Converged Application Platforms?
Packet Telephony and the Internet of course
1996 saw the first enabling standard on the road towards VoIP and convergence – H.323, published by the ITU. The same year we saw Vocaltec's 'Internet Phone'and VoIP was on its way.
It's been 12 years since then but the technology is now well established and the naysayers of the early years have been proved wrong as packet based communications have become well established in the enterprise and the majority of carriers have a VoIP based service to offer. Certain global carriers have even announced planned transitions across their infrastructure to all packet based technologies heralding the revolution to the Next Generation Network.
Industry economics evolved along a similar timeline. With major technological change taking so long and even with the introduction of digital exchanges, competition was light and control lay with a handful of manufacturers.
All development was internal with no pressing compelling event to act as a catalyst for change. That was until IP and computer telephony came along and suddenly the worlds of computing and telecommunications began butting heads. Competition began to heat up and the laws of supply and demand came to bear as the demand for new technologies and a downward price curve increased.
A common platform approach
Conventional circuit switched technology was modular in a sense but was delivered in numerous large cabinets, each responsible for a different function. As packet based solutions evolved they followed a similar model albeit in smaller and more economic packaging.
With a full solution requiring multiple elements, each requiring its own design teams and often based on differing technologies, the economics were still far from efficient. Reuse and flexibility is the key.
If only one could design around a common platform, based on a consistent technology with modularity available at the platform level. One would be able to create a single, chameleon like, element that is capable of being anything or everything required to meet the needs of any given communications solution.
What we have just described is a Converged Application Platform.
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