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In Depth

Technical Description
Service management and operations typically achieve some level of cost efficiency by utilizing service-specific management systems linked to service-specific network technology. With expanded service offerings, providers must implement a converged service delivery platform with fewer system and network boundaries. This move facilitates a more open approach to the creation, provisioning, and assurance of advanced IP services that span boundaries that exist within and between providers.

The IPsphere approach reduces barriers to innovation by using service abstraction and decomposition. This enables providers to optimize flexibility and efficiency by focusing on the translation of a generalized service offering into a set of generalized resource commitments to meet overall service goals.

This open approach to service management allows providers to address their specific priorities. The IPsphere framework delivers benefits to all stakeholders, including service/network providers, content and application providers and the consumers and businesses they serve.

The IPsphere framework implements three service types:

  • Inter-provider Service
  • Intra-provider Service
  • Vertical Partnering

IPsphere: Linking Inter-Service Provider, Intra-Service Provider and 3rd Party Audiences

IPsphere Field Trial
The IPsphere field trial conducted in 2008 moved beyond the specifications phase to a real world implementation that validated this flexible, open framework. The field trial simulated a consumer who orders on-demand premium video content from a retail service provider. This order event triggers a series of inter-provider hand-offs across multiple service and content providers in order to deliver content for the service.

The trial use case demonstrated the ability of the IPsphere framework to provide extended reach for premium service delivery. It included service elements for transport, access, and content provided by a combination of global network providers. The partnership for the field trial is brokered through IPsphere.

The field trial addressed these IPsphere objectives:

  1. Validate the IPsphere framework in a global partner scenario.
  2. Demonstrate the model for flexible content partnerships.
  3. Create, activate, and terminate advanced IP services.
  4. Show multi-vendor interoperability.
  5. Establish a global network platform for further testing and validation of IPsphere objectives

The IPsphere Framework specifications are defined for the automated offer, purchase, and provisioning of service components between multiple stakeholders. In addition to architecture and detailed implementation specifications, IPsphere provides a pre-commercial “test bed” for pilot program testing and demonstrations of multi-vendor interoperability. Deliverables include:

IP Convergence through Release 1 Technical Specification
The Technical Specification outlines the rationale behind IPsphere and the technical framework functionality required to support the concept. Leveraging the strengths of Service Oriented Architectures (SOA), IPsphere describes the ability to abstract and compose telecommunications and IT resources into unlimited service possibilities via a standardized messaging structure. It addresses these areas:

  • Service Abstraction describes the business and technical characteristics of a service and its constituent service elements.
  • Service Composition identifies and selects elements that satisfy these technical and business requirements.
  • The IPsphere Service Structuring Stratum provides support for structuring, executing, and assuring these services.

Figure 1: IPsphere Framework in the Context of Typical Network Provider’s Operating Environment

Mobile and Fixed/Mobile Convergence
The Session Services and Resources Management (SSRM) Framework extends the operation of IPsphere into mobile and fixed/mobile convergence. It describes the way that session-based services such as telephony and Video-on-Demand interact with IPsphere-controlled resources.

The SSRM document provides a high-level framework that identifies functional elements and the role they play in session management and resource-control.

Figure 2: Provisioning of resources for session-based services

The realm of session-based services (both IMS and non-IMS) traveling over IP networks are still in their infancy (Skype being perhaps the most well-known). Guaranteeing QoS for these services will be a crucial element. For that reason, IPsphere provides descriptions for QoS support across cross service-provider boundaries.