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Guaranteeing access

The open standards-based IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) is generating increasing interest among network operators because of its ability to provide modular, flexible delivery and fast time-to-market for new services. Thanks to its inbuilt commitment to the principle of uninterrupted data access, Solid's data management technology is ideally suited to meet the needs of IMS control and application layer solutions.
Solid Information Technology

Numerous, complex factors shape customer demand for telecom services, and predicting upcoming developments can be difficult. A dynamic environment of constantly changing usage patterns, increased device capabilities, and fast-moving market trends means that service providers need to be able to bring new services to market rapidly, and scale up the ones that sell.

IMS is attracting increasing interest here, because it allows operators to evolve their networks toward a flexible architecture capable of accommodating the convergence of traditional telecom services — such as voice and SMS – and new data services, such as email, web browsing, and instant messaging (IM).

With the increased number of multimedia data services that are expected to be rolled out by major service providers, industry analysts are forecasting an explosion in the amount of rich data – from voice to image to records — that will reside and travel across networks in the future.

A new breed of data management solutions will be essential to handle the large number of data repositories that will be required, and serve the growing number of sophisticated users expecting high performance and uninterrupted data access.

Not up to the challenge

Traditional databases cannot provide the right support for these needs, as they are designed primarily for centralised repositories, such as backend ERP applications, and require constant human intervention to function and respond to scale-up requirements.

In addition, these databases typically do not provide cost-effective carrier-grade solutions, and require expensive hardware and software add-ons to ensure immediate and uninterrupted access to data.

In fact, they are simply not up to guaranteeing the type of access to different types of data very quickly, any time, from anywhere, and at any scale that is a key IMS requirement.

This is the 'bread and butter', however, of the solutions offered by Solid Information Technology, which are designed from the ground up to provide:

  • Fast access to information
  • Always-on data availability
  • Flexibility to adapt to growing needs and unpredictable workloads on-demand
  • Efficient distribution of data and databases, and
  • Intelligent rich media and data handling.

These capabilities play a key role in both the control and application layers of the IMS architecture; and are key requirements for HLR, HSS, and media gateways, just as they are for media-rich applications, such as gaming and on-demand video.

The Solid approach

The success of these types of new services will depend on exceptional data access performance. Operators will need to be able to deliver rich data in real time to large numbers of users.

Solid's technology has the unique ability to support hybrid data management, and can function as a main memory or disk-based database, or combine the two capabilities. This allows Solid to offer triple the performance of other major open source and enterprise databases – as proven by telecom-specific benchmarks, such as TM1, that simulate the behaviour of HLR applications.

To be successful, IMS infrastructure systems and applications also need to be transparent to the end-user in the event of system failure. In the case of Push-to-Talk over cellular deployments, for example, delays that exceed 400 milliseconds are not acceptable during conversations. This means that the data management platform used in the call path must provide redundancy and extremely short failover time and mean time-to-repair capabilities.

Not a problem for Solid, which provides database failover times in the order of milliseconds, delivering 99.9999% data availability.

The right inbuilt commitment

As subscribers' needs and volumes change, data management at all levels of the IMS architecture must also be scale-capable in real time, with zero downtime. Solid's replication capabilities have the solution here too, as they initiate new database instances in real time and redirect service traffic progressively.

Hundreds of network equipment providers use Solid products as the core data management engine for their critical applications.

Coupled with the ability to initiate database instances dynamically on diskless blades and synchronise them with other instances very efficiently, this makes Solid the data management solution of choice for blade-centric architectures and the Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture (ATCA).

Successful use of IMS also calls for data to be distributed and redundant across networks. Data on millions of subscribers cannot be managed effectively via centralised data repositories, in the same way that rich media applications cannot deliver the expected quality of service when data is not available reliably close to end-users.

Solid has the answer here too, as its technology allows hundreds of database replica to be synchronised across any combination of networks.

Solid's data distribution capabilities ensure that large object and associated metadata can be distributed effectively to facilitate intelligent service delivery and guarantee the transaction-consistent, network-aware delivery of the rich data typical of IMS services across both fixed line and wireless connections.

All in all then, Solid data management technology – thanks to its inbuilt commitment to the principle of uninterrupted data access – is ideally suited to meet the needs of IMS control and application layer solutions, where the tolerance for service outages is the proverbial zero.

Solid has hundreds of customers worldwide in a variety of industries. Over 40% of these are in the telecom business, and include Alcatel, Cisco, Fujitsu-Siemens, HP, NEC, Nortel, and Siemens.

These use Solid technology in a variety of network equipment solutions for IP networks, such as soft switches, media gateways, IP PBXs, SIP servers, and HLR platforms. Solid is also the preferred database for most of these vendors' service convergence platforms, which share the same goals as IMS.

In addition, emerging ISVs, such as Sonim, are already leveraging Solid in their Push-to-Talk and other IMS-compliant applications.

> Sally Hartnell
(Published in High Technology Finland )