Monday, October 15, 2007

Open Source IMS : Is it a myth?

It has been several years since the term IMS has become more than familiar in the Telecom domain. By now it has its own critics and fans in the world. I was curious to know whether there are any open source efforts and investments going on in this technology. The result was bit surprising. I could figure out only one prominent open source project for IMS core. The project is from Fraunhofer Institute and called FOCUS.

But unfortunately they don't claim this can be used for direct commercial deployment. Their IMS, as they say, is for IMS oriented research and also for testing conformance of existing IMS systems.

So there is still this void in the space of open source IMS systems. Lets see what happened to other technological domains which were successful as open source projects. Lets take SIP(Session Initiation Protocol) for example. In march 17, 1999, the first RFC of SIP (RFC 2543) came into existence. By the year 2004, there were already a number of open source SIP stack implementations in the market. That also included SIP call simulators, SIP testing tools (SIPP), SoftPhone implementations using these SIP stacks. For IMS, The concept was originally defined by 3G.IP forum back in 1999. Even then, now in 2007, we are still lacking in availability of open source IMS implementations.

Its actually tough to expect a company to build an entire commercial IMS solution as an open source project. Because its enormous and complex, unlike SIP. But I would have certainly liked to see some open source HSS, open source I-CSCF/P-CSCF solutions. If not, at least I expected to see a huge number of open source IMS Application Servers.

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10 comments:

Vance said...

There is progress. I have released an opensource Home Subscriber Server (HSS) here.

Channon said...

Well written article.

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for me is not a myth because I've seen last week in my computer and works perfectly, is a good articucle, open source is a good tool.

vingarzan said...

As one of the original author/maintainer of the Open Source IMS Core project, I can say that we always targeted to be a test-bed project. Hence the warning that while for R&D purposes you normally do not have to worry about patents for example, for commercial exploitation you have to consider IPR. Ultimately the creation of the respective IMS standards did require a significant investment for which the patent holders are entitled on a return. The OpenIMSCore targets were always simply to help the industry understand and accelerate the adoption of the IMS architecture and not to provide a real-life carrier-grade open-source alternative.

You should though take look at Kamailio, which is used in carrier-grade VoIP deployments and has imported the OpenIMSCore experience and combined it with their hands-on experience from real-life exploitations (after all, both project have a common ancestor). So he Open IMS Core lives on in a sense ;-).

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