Last week, the TeleManagement Forum (www.tmforum.org) held its Management World Americas event in Dallas, TX. Walking through the exhibit areas and reviewing the two Catalyst Projects that Microsoft contributed to, I began to think about how Microsoft has evolved into a Service Provider over the past several years.
Microsoft has been viewed by this industry as primarily a software or platform vendor. Microsoft still fulfills that role of course. But two other roles have begun to emerge: that of Network Equipment Provider (NEP) such as the IPTV Mediaroom product, and that of a Service Provider. Microsoft has hundreds of millions of subscribers and users of MSN, Live.com, and its Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings. Complementing this is an entire line of business around search and advertising. Much like a tradition telco, Microsoft has had to put into place common processes for Service Creation, Provisioning, Service Assurance, and Billing.
To support the delivery of services to its channel partners via a process known as service syndication, Microsoft is moving towards its own version of a Service Delivery Framework or SDF. Some from Microsoft attending the Dallas event were there to see how they could leverage TMF architectural approaches such as NGOSS and the SDF working group in their own work to support Microsoft Software plus Services (S+S) strategy.
When we consider the issue from a telco perspective and apply some of the concepts of NGOSS and SDF to the problem, we can visualize a Service Delivery Platform built around the Microsoft Connected Services Framework (CSF) product quite easily. The implementation can leverage NGOSS, the SID, and MTOSI interfaces. However, two problems come to focus: First, much of the TMF's focus is still Next Generation Network (NGN) centric. This does not really apply to the Microsoft as a service provider use case. Microsoft has a network but it does not have a telco NGN / IMS type of network. Second, since Microsoft services transcend multiple industries, a TMF standard approach that is too telco / NGN centric is not helpful when assembling services from both telco and non-telco domains.
To be really useful to the broader universe of service providers, including in particular the non-telco web services based providers, the recommended Service Delivery Framework architecture is going to have to be independent of the telco specific / NGN use case. A telco specific/ NGN / IMS SDF should be one possible specific implementation example of a SDF but, it cannot be the baseline or starting point of the SDF definition if it is to achieve significant adoption outside of the telecommunications industry.