Oracle's horizontal move into the telco vertical

REDWOOD SHORES, CA—Oracle unveiled a major platform initiative Tuesday aimed at telecommunications providers. The new Oracle Service Delivery Platform (SDP) is designed to support carriers, network operators and systems integrators who are moving to service-oriented architectures.

The new SDP will extend Oracle Fusion Middleware for network-centric applications, enabling users to access next-gen mobile, voice services and enterprise apps through traditional communication networks. It's also designed to provide access to next-gen networks based on IMS and VoIP infrastructure.

Oracle's move into telecom isn't radical, says John Mazur, research director with Gartner's carrier network infrastructure team. The database giant already has a well-established installed base on the IT and business side of telco. In fact, Oracle claims 90 percent of the world's telco carriers use its databases. And its recent Siebel acquisition may have given the company the lion's share of telco CRM as well.

"This isn't much of a stretch for Oracle," Mazur says. "It's just not that different from what they already doing. It's just another vertical industry for them—albeit a potentially lucrative one. Telco is the second largest vertical, financially speaking. In terms of growth opportunities, this was a logical choice."

The new platform is based on technology from two recent Oracle acquisitions: Hot sip, the Swedish session initiation protocol infrastructure vendor, which also provides the IMS infrastructure; and Net Call, a supplier of the carrier-grade infrastructure Parlay software, which will provide the interfaces and apps for legacy networking.

Oracle also recently purchased Portal Software, a telco billing software vendor

The timing of this announcement also seems to fit current industry trends, Mazer says. "All of these carriers are moving up the OSI stack, where software is becoming more and more important to them. Lots of folks are ready to start doing more with software."

Vittorio Viarengo, Oracle's VP of server technologies, agrees: "We believe that the time is just right. The operators I talk to are all moving aggressively toward IMS and IP-based networks. But they have billions and billions of investment in existing network infrastructures. The idea of the two acquisitions combined with our middleware is to allow them to build services that run on the network they have today, but that are IMS-ready, so that they can transition to the new world in the future."

Viarengo was one of the drivers behind the Hot sip and Net Call acquisitions. He adds, "Now I'm very focused on making sure that these guys have room to innovate and make a difference within Oracle."

Mazur is optimistic about Oracle's telco move, but doesn't expect the ride to be smooth. "I do think that they are going to find some surprises along the way," he says. "I think they're going to find out that they need a much deeper understanding of some of the issues and legacy support problems."

Oracle says it has about 20 IMS customer pilots, including Turkcell, one of Eastern Europe's largest mobile providers, which is rolling out GPRS broadband services.

The service gateway components of the new SDP are currently available a la carte, the company says, and will be rolled into the 10.3.1 release of Fusion middleware, scheduled for late summer. Future SDP features will include call control and charging facilities that work across IMS and legacy networks; device management and repositories; and out of the box packaged offerings such as mobile content delivery, VoIP and virtual PBX.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at [email protected].