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Can telecom SOA live up to its promise?

As with many technology developments, service-oriented architecture -- or as we better know and love it, SOA -- was going to solve everything for telecom service providers and for enterprises. Now telecom operators need to address their specific challenges if they hope to decrease operating costs while increasing revenue.

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Kate Gerwig, Site Editor, SearchTelecom.comAs with many technology developments, service-oriented architecture -- or as we better know and love it, SOA -- was going to solve everything for telecom service providers and for enterprises.

Do you sense a "but" coming here? Not exactly, just kind of. As is also true with most technologies, we tend to declare winners long before we should, and SOA is no exception. CIMI Corp. President Tom Nolle looks at whether SOA has lost some of its luster in the telecom world in Telecoms must address three SOA implementation challenges.

Is SOA a disaster? Far from it. Standardized interfaces designed for easy substitution of network elements and software components are bright and shiny objects in the industry. But, as reality sets in, service providers deploying SOA must be aware of its potential pitfalls and make sure to protect high performance and scalability and create solid boundaries from third parties.

Included in the issues service providers need to be concerned about is whether reusing SOA many times – which is good for operations costs – is actually bad for service performance. Telecom operators have to solve the delicate balancing act between scalability and demand on network servers and data centers.

Opening their networks to third-party developers is another challenge that would have been considered treason in the traditional telecom world. The standardized interfaces used by Web developers and telecom providers will need to work for both groups or new partnerships don't have a chance of working.

While SOA was initially discussed in terms of enterprise use, telecom providers probably have a bigger stake in its success. The reason is that the next-generation of service delivery platforms (SDPs) are based on SOA.

Telecom providers are currently looking to telecom equipment vendors and professional services companies to help define SDPs that can help them increase revenue while lowering operational costs. How that effort is going is a topic we'll address in the coming weeks on SearchTelecom.com.

For now, if you have SOA implementation stories to share, please let us know. No one wants that bright and shiny object at the end of the tunnel to be an oncoming train. Email your comments to us at Editor@SearchTelecom.com.

This was last published in January 2009

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