The IP Sphere Forum was created in mid 2005 by almost 40 companies - a who's who of global network equipment manufacturers and major carriers - with the ambitious goal of developing a new architecture for IP networks. It grew out of the Infranet Initiative, set up in 2003 by Juniper Networks, which in turn spawned the Infranet Initiative Council (IIC).
The key aim of the IPsphere Forum is to produce a specification that, when implemented in network hardware, software and management systems, will enable multiple parties responsible for creating and delivering a network service from end to end to put in place the technical and commercial arrangements to deliver that service at agreed quality levels and to charge accordingly. The Forum took its first significant step towards achieving this goal with release the first version of its technical specification in mid 2007.
According to Tom Noelle CEO of CIMI Corporation, a consultant who has been closely involved with the IPsphere Forum over several years, "'Every service provider in the world is looking for a standardised way to abstract service components, compose services across partner boundaries, and control service lifecycle processes using software.
"It's a recognised path to profit that raises revenues and manages cost. IPsphere is perhaps the standards-based approach that's most fully developed, and this demonstration proves it."
For Telstra participation in the trial is an important step in its plan to develop an 'Application Assured Network' (AAN) - a network capable of dynamically dimensioning itself to support any customer application requirement, such as bandwidth, delay, jitter and QoS.
Ian Stanley, national manager, at Telstra, said: "The intelligent interaction between the network and service frameworks will be a critical success factor in the deployment of Application Assured Networking.
"Our multi-site IPsphere implementation enables us not only to test our own service delivery environment, but also to validate it with other service providers as part of the TM Forum's worldwide IPsphere field trial.'"
Coward never mentioned the IPsphere Forum but it clearly underpinned the concepts set out in his presentation. He floated the idea of an "open garden" model one in which carriers add value to content hosted by themselves, partners or across the Internet in which they can add value to their own and partner content by guaranteeing service parameters to ensure an optimal user experience. "Experience is a value that only the network can deliver, Coward said.
Telstra's trial network is built on Juniper Networks switches and routers with the IPsphere framework implemented by Net One Systems. Net One has developed IPsphere Service Management System (SMS) software using Juniper's Open IP Service Creation Program (OSCP).
Formally launched in January 2007, OSCP is billed as "an application development program for creating innovative IP service management functionality by leveraging the power of the Juniper Networks Session and Resource Control Portfolio." Net One joined Juniper's OSCP as the first IPsphere solution integration partner in May this year.