There was an interesting and provocative panel session at VON. Representatives from Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, Nortel and Radvision talked about the value of open standards and interoperability. Each one of them acknoledged the importance and value of communications standards such as SIP and IMS.
I took away two important comments from the discussion:
1) Standards are just the tip of the iceberg. Implementing the specifications and ensuring interoperability between implementations is far more involving and typically takes 3-4 years after the standards are published. This poses a big challange to next generation telcos. In a fast paced world, 3-4 years is an enormous amount of time. There is a chance that more agile alternatives will emerge and gain market share. Asterisk and Skype are already making this point.
The morale of the story for me is that Open Standards supporters should share resources and extend their collaboration beyond specifications into implementation. Open Standards + Open Source implementations seems to make a lot of sense. It ensures low cost, fast paced creation of a unified platforms that a large network of providers can benefit from. It cuts the costs of duplicated development and interoperability testing.
2) While Yahoo, Google and MS talked about the value of interconnected networks, they did not answer very well my SIMPLE question, which was: "When are we going to be able to send a SIMPLE message from MSN Messenger to Yahoo Messenger to Google Talk?".
Russell Bennett at Microsoft said that they supported SIP and SIMPLE since 2001 and are ready to interop with Google as soon as Google is ready. Mike Jazayeri at Google said that they are ready to interop with Microsoft as soon as Microsoft invites them. Madhu Yarlagadda said that Yahoo Messenger 7 supports SIP and they are currently piloting a bridge with MSN. Fingers crossed for the pilot to come through.
I talked to Madhu after the session and he told me that they are working on a program to allow service providers to test connectivity with Yahoo Messenger servers. Mike told me the same about Google Talk. Hopefully the Mobicents community will soon obtain access to try out SLEE services for the two major communications networks.
Here are some pictures from the session: