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February 15, 2017

Metaswitch Buys Mobile Service Enablement Outfit OpenCloud

In a move that will enable it to provide carriers with a pure-play software VoLTE solution, Metaswitch today announced the acquisition of mobile service enablement company OpenCloud. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Sixty operators around the world already use solutions from OpenCloud, which Gartner named a cool vendor back in 2006 when the company announced its first institutional funding round. The company’s Rhino Telecom Application Server outfits network operators and other developers with application programming interfaces and software development kits through which they can develop and extend carrier services. That allows for faster time to market and more flexibility in introducing and tweaking services.

Now Metaswitch plans to combine OpenCloud’s Rhino Telecom Application Server with its own Clearwater IMS Core and Perimeta SBC offerings. Clearwater is Metaswitch’s open source implementation of IMS. It allows for scalable cloud-based voice, video, and messaging services. Perimeta is the company’s cloud native carrier-class session border controller.

The companies were already partners. And in July OpenCloud announced the launch of a single downloadable software package including its OpenCloud Sentinel VoLTE Telecom Application Server and Metaswitch’s Clearwater IMS and OpenIMS Home Subscriber Server.

“Carrier transitions from legacy networks to VoLTE are greatly facilitated by vendors that can streamline procurement, deployment, interworking, management, and support,” said Stephane Teral, senior research director of mobile infrastructure and carrier economics at research firm IHS Markit. “Metaswitch’s acquisition of OpenCloud not only accelerates mobile service virtualization, but also cements them as a strategic supplier to mobile operators that are considering deploying VoLTE, and innovating beyond.

There were 310 million VoLTE subscribers at the end of last year, according to IHS Markit. And it expects VoLTE subscribers to grow beyond 1 billion by the end of 2020.

Of course VoLTE is just one trend this acquisition points to. It also dovetails with the larger trend of providing carriers and the developer community with tools that make it quick and easy to bring new communications services to market and to embed communications into new or existing applications. Avaya is doing a similar thing with its Zang effort, as is GENBAND with its Kandy effort. And Twilio and Vonage/Nexmo are allowing for that with their APIs.

Computer telephony integration and communications-enabled business processes predated what’s happening with these solutions now, Frank Stinson of IntelliCom Analytics told me in an interview last week at ITEXPO. The problem with CTI was you needed custom developers to create the solutions, so it was expensive and complex, he said. CEBP, meanwhile, was about SOA and broadened the developer community, he added, but was still quite technical and required deep understanding of business processes. However, Stinson explained, today’s cloud-based development platforms are designed for use even by non techies.

“The key difference now is it’s much more accessible,” said Stinson. “You don’t have to be a developer to take advantage of some of this stuff now.”

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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