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What Does the Future Hold for IMS?

  By Christopher Mohr, TMCnet Contributing Writer

With the recent explosive growth of unified communications (UC), older technologies like IP multimedia subsystems (IMS) are now considered rather inefficient and cumbersome by comparison. The added emergence of cloud and VoLTE technologies, however, has given IMS a new life.

Recent studies show that spending on IMS will be strong the next few years. The Dell’ (News - Alert)Oro Group predicted in July 2013 that spending on IMS equipment would be at a constant level of $6 billion per year for the next five years. ABI research predicts that IMS industry revenues will be $1.2 billion through 2019.

Talk of IMS’ demise started shortly after the technology became available to enterprises. Although the concept of IMS with its control mechanisms and support for different communication methods was appealing, it failed to live up to the hype. Installations often turned out to be overly complex, expensive and slow to deploy. A lack of standardization was another limiting factor.

The emergence of cloud technology has rejuvenated IMS. Its virtualization eliminates the need for hardware-intensive installations that were unwieldy, costly and unscalable. VoLTE has also helped.

“As high-speed LTE (News - Alert) networks are now reaching broad coverage in many regions, and wider availability of VoLTE handsets are expected later in 2013, we expect to see significant subscriber growth in these networks,” said Dell’Oro Group vice president Chris DePuy.

The UC market remains the giant in technologies supporting multiple communications methods. Transparency Market Research estimates that an industry that was already at $22.8 billion in 2011 will grow to $61.9 billion in 2018, an order of magnitude greater than IMS. You can literally count the number of major IMS vendors on one hand while numerous vendors support UC.

Nonetheless, it’s too soon to call IMS a dead technology. Thanks to the cloud and VoLTE, what was becoming an impractical technology is now seeing new applications, giving enterprises more options when it comes to supporting mobile devices and communications methods. 

Edited by Alisen Downey

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