OpenCloud, which develops app servers for the telecoms industry, will next month ship a major new release of its flagship Rhino product with the ability to port Resource Adapters to any environment that complies with the Java-based standard on which it is based.
Jonathan Bell, OpenCloud’s VP of product marketing, said the standard is Java APIs for Integrated Networks, Service Logic Execution Environment, or JAIN SLEE, and the portable Resource Adapters were added to the spec in version 1.1, which Rhino 2.0 complies with.
OpenCloud is headquartered in Cambridge, UK, but was formed in 2000 in New Zealand where it still does all its R&D. It was founded to create open standard software technology to improve the portability and interoperability of services in telecommunications, specifically in the evolution to IP and 3G IMS.
Bell said the company has three routes to market. First, we sell directly into mobile operators, who still have all their money-making subscribers on intelligent networks (INs) on their TDM networks, he said. INs are the basis of all the operators’ business today and many of the pure-play IMS vendors like BroadSoft and Sylantro don’t support them. They tend to be US companies, and prepaid isn’t such a big deal over there, but when they come to Europe, not being able to support IN is a shortcoming.
He said the IN platforms, which are generally provided by big equipment vendors like Nokia Siemens and Ericsson, are quite inflexible, with little ability for the individual carrier to differentiate itself from a competitor using the same platform. OpenCloud offers the Rhino app server to sit alongside the IN and deliver additional logic. This lets the carrier customize the service for subsets of its customers or add-on features, he said.
Our second route to market is to embed Rhino into third-party app developers, said Bell. In VPNs, there is a German developer called Kapsch CarrierCom building on our platform, while in billing a Croatian ISV called Kate-Kom that has an online charging and mediation platform for both IMS and TDM networks. Finally in fixed-mobile convergence, US developer Tango Networks uses Rhino to underpin its Abrazo appliances.
Our third route to market is via the telecoms equipment providers themselves, said Bell. Both Nokia Siemens and Motorola use Rhino embedded into their Service Control Points for IN networking. These relations are the most uneasy, however, because our technology often goes in instead of their own IN. They’re much happier when they use us to help displace one of their competitors.
A Developer Preview release of Rhino 2.0 was made available last month, with the support for portable Resource Adapters a key enhancement. By standardizing the way network events are communicated between the Resource Adapter and the app server, OpenCloud has enabled any Resource Adapter implementations based on the 2.0 release to be deployed and run in any JAIN SLEE-compliant container, without modification.
Bell said OpenCloud’s competitors fall into two categories. He said there are the other JAIN SLEE-based vendors such as jNetX and the open-source MobiCents (now part of Red Hat), while Alcatel-Lucent has its own offering in this area called Optimization Services Node. Then there are proprietary technologies designed to deliver the flexibility to voice and messaging services into INs, he said.