Tuesday, December 11, 2007

JBCP training class at Nortel

Last week, I had the privilege to teach a four day class on JBoss Communications Platform (Mobicents) to a team of sharp cookies from Nortel. I am usually not great at repeating the same presentation many times, so I appreciate it a lot when the audience is interacting with me - asking questions, catching bugs in the examples, or making fun of my drawings. Well in this case, the audience was so interactive that they made me feel I knew nothing about real world converged telco applications. I think I learned more from this class than I taught. Looking forward to go back to Dallas and spend more time with this team. They have several exciting projects lined up that will make a splash appearance sometime next year.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Japanese telcos still on the cutting edge

During the week of November 26, the Red Hat telco team had a series of meetings in Tokyo with the leading Japanese telcos. Okashita-san, responsible for business development in Japan, organized the logistics and included several folks from sales, marketing and engineering from the Tokyo office. Until this trip, I had no idea Red Hat has such a big office in Japan. The quality of the people in that office beat my expectations by a long shot. There was a lot of energy in the air. It was great to be part of it for a few days.

During our meetings, I learned a lot about the advancement and innovation created by the Japanese operators. Its no news that they have been world leaders in mobile technology for years. Still it was amazing to see their R&D labs first hand.

The engineers we met had the mentality found in US startups. The discussions were involved and technical. It was quite unusual scene for companies of such size. Even more exciting was the fact that these companies launched specialized open source departments focusing on OSS initiatives with the forward looking goal of introducing them to main product lines. NTT OSS for example in collaboration with NTT Labs have already identified specific areas of development and we were glad to help them.

Towards the end of our trip, the Red Hat business development team organized a media briefing. Following are some of the articles published after the event:

Telco 2.0 Executive Summit, October 2007

Tom Wunderlich and I attended the Telco 2.0 Executive Summit on behalf of Red Hat. We presented the JBoss Communications Platform in the Product Innovation track. The content of the presentation was more technical than the audience expected. Tom had to improvise and bring around the technology message into one of value proposition meaningful to telco executives. Apparently it worked, because we god a fair amount of feedback. Consequently, the organizers of the summit were kind enough to post a blog entry related to our presentation.

The event was good in content and pace. There were about 200 people, most holding executive positions at incumbent or next generation telco companies around the world. There were a series of tightly scheduled presentations and product demos followed by short brainstorming sessions. I learned some interesting facts about the telco pain points, service usage statistics and consumer trends.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Telco 2.0 and Disposable Apps

Disposable apps is a popular term for applications built rapidly by "power users" who need to address a specific problem only relevant to a few people for some period of time. Example: How do I find an apartment in Austin close to a running trail and an Internet cafe?

Yahoo Pipes is a tool enabling disposable Web apps. Microsoft is competing via Popfly, Google has Mashup Editor.

Web mega-brands are beginning to figure out ways to secure long term consumer loyalty by enabling power users to extend their networks of services.

While Yahoo Pipes is an awesome data flow oriented app design tool, it leaves out the domain of communications apps. For example, it is not possible to build a pipe, which 1) monitors an RSS feed for new sports cars and 2) when a new car is posted, and 3) when Alice and Bob are both online during off-hours, then 4) connect them and 5) pop-up the new car web page so they can discuss it. With slightly different parameters, the same application can be useful to a person looking for a house with given criteria and is interested to discuss with their broker each new offer on the market that matches the criteria.

These examples are in the domain of converged applications - mix of web and communications features. To make them possible, there needs to be a foundation of basic communications services pluggable into mashup editors like Yahoo Pipes.

British Telecom made a brave step in the right direction with its new Web21C SDK program. Although BT SDK cannot be readily plugged into web mashups, it is just a small step away.

Another practical example is a mashup between Google Calendar and a hypothetical Conferencing Service similar to the one offered by BT. Lets call this mashup - GCal Conference Service. Its purpose is to make conference calling a better experience - it won't require people to remember the exact time of a conference; they won't need to have a conference bridge number handy either; they may even be stuck in traffic on their way to the office as the call begins.

GCal Conference would work as follows: 1) It will monitor the RSS feed of a user's calendar and watch for events tagged as Audio Conference. 2) 5 minutes before the event starts the service will create the conference room and begin joining participants to the call. The list of participants is found in the GCal event. Address book will be used to lookup each participant's phone number.

Undoubtfully there are many other ideas for disposable converged apps. We are barely scratching the service of what will surely follow. There will be telco players who will hop on the rising tide and ride it. There will be others who will continue contemplating their next big move and find themselves left behind in the 20th century.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Red Hat launches Communications Platform

A few weeks after announcing its commitment to double the investment in the JBoss middleware division, Red Hat makes a firm commitment to enter the emerging telco middleware space. The most prominent Professional Open Source vendor is officially backing the Mobicents project, its community of users and customers.

This is a great day for Tier 1 telcos and NEPs, who are looking for an ubiquitous service delivery platform with rapid development cycle and low deployment cost.
Enterprises and ISVs should also be excited, since they now have the ability to build creative new applications on a solid platform, widely deployed by tier 1 telcos. Over the last 12 months many Mobicents users have been asking for commercial support offering by Red Hat. Their prayers have been heard!

Going forward we will offer a commercial grade support package under the Red Hat/JBoss Communications Platform brand. We will also accelerate the Mobicents community project roadmap as we separate the concerns of stable product releases from fast paced innovation.

The Communications Platform will be comprised of stable and well tested modules from the Mobicents community code base. It will be fully supported by Red Hat Global Services and Red Hat Network. At the same time the Mobicents community will be able to advance faster then ever at its own pace, without restrictions on stability. A win-win for both worlds - that of open source community users and the one of commercial entities with stringent Quality of Service requirements.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Motorola invests in JSLEE

I am very happy for Open Cloud, who just closed $10M funding from two venture capital companies and Motorola. OC and Sun Microsystems spearheaded the Open Standards in telco middleware about 5 years ago. Along the way Sun dropped out of the game, but OC continued to promote the technology and they did a great job at it. OC managed to show the feasibility of JSLEE in carrier grade environments. Most top tier telco operators respect OC for the high quality of their products and services. OC has also been Open Source community friendly and actively support projects like Mobicents.

It is truly great to see a major NEP brand such as Motorola standing behind JSLEE. This bold move sends a clear message to the major IT vendors that the road to the lucrative telco market is not widely open for new players.

Motorola has been reinventing itself lately on the consumer end with a successful new line of mobile phones. It seems that the giant is getting ready to catch up and take the lead on the back end side as well. They seem to understand what Telco 2.0 is about.