Oracle Talks Telecom

Makes first foray into a middleware vertical with service delivery platform

Oracle came to talk telecom, out-lining the companys first foray into a vertical market for its middleware.

To wit: Oracle on April 18 an-nounced yet another acquisition. This time, its Net4Call, a Norway-based provider of Parlay and SLEE (Service Logic Execution Environment) technology.

Oracle execs also outlined a road map for a comprehensive, standards-based SDP (Service Delivery Platform) for the telecommunications industry.

Parlay constitutes open, technology-independent APIs that enable the development of applications that operate across converged networks. The APIs integrate Internet multimedia networks and IN (intelligent networks) with IT applications via a secure, measured and billable interface. The technology has been widely deployed in telecom networks globally. SLEE is a Java execution environment optimized for high-performance, asynchronous interactions typical in the telco world.

Parlay will play a starring role in Oracle SDP, which is aimed at enterprises that are building next-generation voice-enabled and mobile applications, Oracle President Charles Phillips said in a conference call for media and analysts.

SDP is designed to help operators leverage investments in current infrastructure to exploit new technologies such as VOIP (voice over IP), IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) and Presence.

Oracles telecom road map builds on other, earlier acquisitions in this space. The Redwood Shores, Calif., company snapped up HotSip, a provider of SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) and IMS platforms, in February.

Another telecom credit Oracle can claim is that it also now owns TimesTen, purchased in June 2005. The Oracle TimesTen In-Memory Database is a standard in the telecom industry, where lightning-fast data replication is a necessity.

Regardless of the recent acquisitions, the "why" behind the telecom road map boils down to Oracles venerable track record in this space to date, Phillips said.

"We already have a lot of relationships in the industry," Phillips said. "[Telecom companies] know us well and have used our database for many, many years."

Oracles aim now is to push telecom and enterprise customers toward speeding up provisioning, adopting standards more quickly and shifting to an IP-based network, Phillips said.

Oracle Senior Vice President of Server Technologies Development Thomas Kurian said SDP is aimed at solving three issues facing telecom providers and carriers today.

The first issue is the need to rapidly create and deliver new services, including data services and mobile services. The second issue in the telecom space is the push to exploit network convergence as telecom players seek to offer all services over a converged IP network. To do so, they need to move from highly specialized systems and software to a standards-based SDP, Kurian said, and they need to employ SOA (service-oriented architecture) to develop new services and integrate with existing systems and packaged software. The third issue in the telecom space is to leverage existing investments, Kurian said, such as investments in OSS (operational support systems), including provisioning, and BSS (business support systems), including billing.

Pieces of SDP that are available today include IMS support. SDP includes the industrys leading SIP Application Server, Presence Server, Proxy Registrar and Location for what Oracle claims is a complete IMS-ready infrastructure. Oracle acquired this SIP infrastructure in the HotSip buy.

Also available now is support for legacy networks. Oracle SDP includes a programming environment that extends J2EE (Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition) for asynchronous, event-based programming that Oracle says is crucial to support and leverage legacy telecom networks. Oracle SDP supports Java API Parlay X Web Services standards, thanks to the Net4Call acquisition.

Other available pieces include: Oracle SDP, a set of adapters to connect to existing network elements and telecommunications equipment, enabling service providers to quickly roll out new services; and carrier-grade communication infrastructure such as Oracle Database 10g, RAC (Real Application Clusters) and the TimesTen In-Memory Database.