Virtual groups of users on various telecommunication networks – communities – have been coming into the spotlight recently. Particularly in terms of the role they can play in future business models based on leisure industry-related platforms and value-added services, these communities are proving increasingly attractive – an effect reinforced by the increasing convergence of fixed and mobile networks (FMC).
The key feature of such communities is that they offer members a way to participate in an optimized communal experience centered around one of their (leisure) interests and based on a wide range of communication channels (web, handsets). Via the community platform, members can take part in a wide range of activities such as teleconferencing for live meetings, live dialogue with one another or the exchange of text, photos and video (“Push-to-View“).
As communities are generally set up and run by third party providers, the door is wide open for further marketing opportunities such as a marketing platform for community-specific advertising.
CoSIMS (Community Oriented Services on IMS) is a project aimed at developing a dedicated service platform to support community-oriented services based on an All-IP-Overlay architecture. The platform to be defined is mainly based on the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), currently the most popular services delivery platform for converging All-IP networks. Architecture design shall also take account of support and integration of legacy networks and services which will play a part in future converging networks alongside networks of the All-IP type. IMS enables the provision of so called “Service Enablers” which facilitate both, the integration of next generation as well as legacy networks and services, and provide the basis for the evolution of high-value, network-independent services.
The platform to be defined will be based on the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS). As future converging networks are not made up solely of All-IP networks but also include legacy networks and services which need support and integration, proper account needs to be taken of this when designing the architecture. In terms of the definition of reference architecture, the key challenges are the identification of so-called “Enablers”, the ways they interrelate and co-operate and the community logic that results from such interaction. Cross-network connectivity of communication services to third party providers is another key research plank in the CoSIMS project.
A key goal of the CoSIMS project is to define a reference architecture oriented to project-specific scenarios. Current standards and technology trends are used to define a reference architecture with the largest possible degree of openness. The main standards and technologies deployed come from Parlay Group, 3GPP and OMA whilst identification of key technologies and components from these standardization committees like the Presence Service or XDMS architecture forms the basis for the definition of the CoSIMS reference architecture.
The reference architecture shall be used to draw up a system specification with which the existing Open IMS Playground @ Fokus can be extended and adapted. Further external components that may be needed shall also be factored into the equation and integrated as required. The provision of community enablers and cross-network connectivity of a wide range of communication services to third party providers is a key development goal of the CoSIMS project.
The role of Fokus in the CoSIMS project is to provide the technical groundwork for defined community services. Building on the Fokus Open IMS Playground, an extended architecture shall be defined specially tailored to support community services and their development on the basis of current standards and NGN technologies. This Application Enabling and Delivery Environment (AEDE) shall be used to demonstrate the attractiveness and feasibility of community-oriented services. The implementation stage is followed by the integration phase culminating in the provision of a Proof-of-Concept testbed.
The CoSIMS project finalized its first part at the end of 2006 with a user trial in Leipzig. The trial was run mainly on FOKUS infrastructure based on the Open IMS Core and related service enabler.
Realized with students from the T-Systems own Advanced Technical College in Leipzig, a realistic stress test for a CoSIMS specific service environment could be carried out. A group of some 40 students was equipped with the mobile CoSIMS Client providing a first feeling of community related management and communication services as defined and realized in the project.
Using this client for a month, experiences in the area of usability and community communication were collected and evaluated to identify more realistic requirements and lessons for the next steps realizing a more market and user oriented solution. It has been shown that usability, and thus the IMS Client itself, plays a decisive role in the success of a CoSIMS like service platform.
Therefore the results had a direct impact on the second part of the CoSIMS project now running until the end of 2007. The trial pushed the development of the FOKUS IMS Playground to a much more stable and reliable IMS infrastructure with service enabler towards a complete and secure service environment for general IMS based services.
IMS enables the provision of so-called “Service Enablers” which facilitate the integration of legacy networks and services, and which can be used to generate high-value network-independent services whilst Presence and Group Management Enablers facilitate the realization of the targeted community applications.
In addition to this, Fraunhofer Fokus will also be active in supporting the integration of other components into the testbed and connecting the testbed to the infrastructures of other project partners.
Fraunhofer Fokus began operating the Open OSA / Parlay Playground @ Fokus in 2003 and the Open IMS Playground @ Fokus in mid 2004. All their key system components are proprietary Fokus developments or partner products deployed to build prototype applications. These resources offer a highly differentiated testbed environment matched by a correspondingly high level of systems and application expertise.
The project-specific components that Fraunhofer Fokus shall be keying into the CoSIMS tesbed include: