The Ultimate Mashup: Web 2.0 & Next-Gen Telecom Application Servers

The stunning success of Web 2.0 applications is forcing telecom service providers around the world to speed up their next-gen service plans, leading to the deeper integration of Web-based technologies with telecom application servers, according to a major new report from Heavy Reading (, the research division of Light Reading (

The Ultimate Mashup: Web 2.0 & Next-Gen Telecom Application Servers examines the effect of Web services on next-generation telecom application servers, identifying the techniques, protocols, and hardware configurations that network operators must include in their purchasing criteria. The report profiles and analyzes 28 leading suppliers of Web and telecom application servers, assessing their products, development plans, and technology strategies.

The Ultimate Mashup: Web 2.0 & Next-Gen Telecom Application Servers includes a case study of the BT 21st-Century Network (21CN) initiative to capture the strategies, decision points, and variables BT considered in plotting its transition strategy. The 67-page report provides a complete and detailed view of the emerging next-gen application server market, including:

  • The evolution path of the telecom application server and the most likely future course for application servers
  • The challenges network operators face in delivering Web 2.0 services, including the impact of alternative carriers such as Vonage and Skype
  • An assessment of the relevant application program interfaces (APIs) and programming languages used by application servers
  • An analysis of the various types of application servers, the services they enable, and their functional roles as detailed in industry standards
  • An evaluation of Telco 2.0 and Web 2.0 services integration
  • A detailed competitive analysis of the products, overall vision, market strategies, and long-term prospects of next-gen application server technology suppliers

"After more than a decade of parallel development as clearly defined separate entities, Web servers and telecom application servers are now becoming much more closely aligned," says Jim Hodges, senior analyst with Heavy Reading and author of the report. "The momentum of Web 2.0 services is driving this closer relationship. For example, it is now possible to purchase, from vendors such as IBM and BEA, combined SIP and HTTP Web servers that from a hardware perspective represent a converged telecom/Web application server."

One factor that is preventing a faster convergence of Web 2.0 and application server technologies is the reluctance of vendors on both sides to compete head on, Hodges notes. "Both sides recognize that their skill sets are not as well suited to competing in different markets, and the R&D costs are prohibitive – meaning that telecom vendors will not develop Web servers and Web vendors will not develop telephony features," he explains. "Still, this separation is showing clear signs of dissolution, such as the decision by Web vendor Oracle to internally develop telecom features to support VOIP and Virtual PBX applications."

Other key findings of The Ultimate Mashup: Web 2.0 & Next-Gen Telecom Application Servers include the following:

  • The success of the Web 2.0 business model is motivating application server providers to integrate more Web 2.0-type capabilities into their platforms. Vendors delivering new application servers with Web 2.0 features include Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Nokia Siemens, Nortel Networks, and Sonus.
  • Hardware differentiation among telecom application servers is now virtually meaningless. Most suppliers of telecom application servers have migrated to commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) server configurations, such as BladeCenter T, which are essentially carrier-grade Web servers. This means vendors have relinquished the ability to differentiate products at a hardware level. Telecom application server vendors are shifting their focus to delivery of high-quality modular software that maximizes the scaleability of the base platform. Accordingly, while telecom vendors such as Genband and Avaya sell software-only solutions today, at least one major vendor is considering the adoption of this approach in the second half of 2008.
  • Renewed interest by major vendors in the development of application server products will likely lead to further consolidation among suppliers. The consolidation and rationalization that occurred in 2007, with the merger of Aepona and Appium and the acquisition of Ubiquity by enterprise-based Avaya, will continue apace. The most notable move this year has been Oracle's announced acquisition of BEA.