Microsoft, which has long coveted a bigger share of business from telecom companies, on Monday introduced a server and software framework designed to make it easier for telecom service providers to create and package communications services. The Microsoft Connected Services Framework uses Web services, a services-oriented architecture, and APIs to let carriers create services themselves and to manage and interconnect services offered by third parties.
Microsoft pitches the package as a tool to help carriers put themselves in the middle of transactions between customers and other online service providers, which currently use telecom companies mainly as providers of bandwidth. Telecom companies "face significant risk of being commoditized into transport companies," says Terry McGuigan, a Microsoft product manager. "The solution is for operators to become aggregators or the central routing point for these external service providers."
Carriers can use Web services to connect new services to back-end functions such as session, identity, profile, and resource management, and service catalogs, and also use them to interconnect existing services, in order to use the information to sell additional services to customers. For example, a customer who orders a movie ticket could later be offered a ring-tone of the movie's theme song for their cell phone or a CD of the movie sound track from an online retailer.
The Connected Services Framework includes a server to manage service control, a set of interfaces for connecting to backend systems, a Web services API for adding new services, and a software developers kit for building new services. Early customers of the framework include BT, Bell Canada, and Celcom Malaysia. Microsoft hopes to sign some U.S. carriers as customers in the next several weeks, McGuigan says.