Messaging: The Changing Landscape



Faced with globalization, a shifting marketplace, regulatory and competitive
pressures, today’s telecommunication carriers must continually differentiate
products and services to increase the average revenue per user (ARPU) and actual
margin per user (AMPU), all while improving customer retention rates. Next
generation messaging (NGM) services offer carriers an opportunity to
dramatically differentiate themselves from competitors and to target offerings
toward specific market sectors.

However, as traditional voice mail systems evolve into IP-based next
generation messaging systems, carriers also experience a tremendous amount of
digital data growth that must be managed and stored for customers. As a result,
carriers will need to dramatically enhance their information management and
storage technology to support the system’s capabilities while improving the
efficiency of customer-facing business activities, such as billing and customer
service.

Next Generation Messaging
The next generation messaging evolution will assimilate all other message
types to enable users to send a compound message without really knowing or
caring about the capabilities of the recipient. 
So, when one user sends a message to another, the message will be
‘groomed’ by the network so it can be delivered to a device irrespective of
the client type. The network may also be able to add value elements such as
predictions based on past behaviors, current location or even link to calendar
sensitive issues such as travel schedules or holidays. In that scenario, the
network is pivotal in making decisions concerning format delivery, timing and
all other message parameters.  In other words, the network continues to add value.

What
To Plan For In A Next Generation Messaging System

There are several
distinct value propositions that carriers should be pursuing:

  • Partner with a
    vendor who offers superior price/performance characteristic when
    implementing the tiered storage necessary to support next generation
    messaging. Don’t look only at acquisition costs, but consider the
    total cost of ownership of those systems, including maintenance and
    staffing.

  • Seek a partner who
    enables NGM by providing data storage security allowing carriers to
    gain the trust of the customer in handling data of high personal
    value.

  • Find a partner
    whose applications and infrastructure are able to utilize a superset
    of the telecom’s storage layer functionality.

  • Select a partner
    who can assist the carrier in conducting a cost-based analysis of the
    complete NGM solution.

  • Look for market
    leading ability to implement tiered storage layers that enable cost
    efficiency in message handling to drive down the system TCO through
    smart information handling techniques and while offering users new
    storage options (automated or manual).

NGM and Content Storage
In addition to evolving messaging technologies, telecom operators will
require other technology enhancements to drive revenue. 
The explosive growth of customer digital media in the form of photos and
music files will be a potential area of revenue generation, both as a
value-added service, as well as with additional bandwidth utilization.

For instance, offering online photo albums and music facilities require
back-up, storage, share, print and jukebox capabilities. It is unlikely that NGM
content stores and ‘my photo’, ‘my music’ and ‘my video’ will exist
in isolation. Rather, a customer receiving a complex message may well elect to
store components of the message in different ways, moving a photo to the online
album for example. Similarly, the online stores will offer the user a rich
choice of data to compose and enhance their messages.

The Challenges 
Today’s IP based voice mail systems typically plan for 1-10 MB per
user. This is a function of the volume and relatively transient nature of the
data with a typical voice mail being held for three days. However, a trend
towards rich data will result in both an increase in data volumes and likely, an
increase in the duration for which messages are held. Future messaging systems
will typically have a requirement of 10-100 MB per user. However, as noted
above, adding the online photo/music/video store to the environment could well
drive storage requirements to the multi-GB level. This will likely increase
memory capabilities of the network storage devices used to access the messaging
system.

While the ability to handle data volume alone is important in the storage
layer, the input/output performance of the system is also a critical factor.
This can be seen in the requirements for today’s voice mail systems. Clearly,
as the volume of data increases, this factor becomes even more important,
particularly when the ‘real-time’ nature of messaging is considered.

In summary, today’s messaging systems are transactional in their nature.
However, the trend is towards a system with both transactional and bulk storage
characteristics. Designing a ‘right cost’ architecture to support such
systems will be critical to their success.

As the carrier progresses to handling more and more personally orientated
data, not only do the volumes increase, but the value attached to data also
increases significantly. And, carriers will have to guarantee this data will not
be lost, can be retrieved in the case of disaster and give a concrete guarantee
covering the integrity of the information stored on behalf of their customers.

Rajesh Janey, vice president,
North and East, EMC India
vadmail@cybermedia.co.in

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