John Waclawsky (from Cisco's mobile solutions group), coined the term S4 for "Systems Standards Stockholm Syndrome" - like hostages becoming attached to their captors, systems standard participants become wedded to the process of setting standards. Henry Sinnreich from pulver.com moderated a Spring 2006 VON panel that talked about this issue as it relates to voice and video over IP:
- Richard Stastny, OeFEG
- Cullen Jennings, Cisco
- Markus Isomaki, Nokia
- Phil Zimmerman, PGP
- Orit Levin, Microsoft
Statsny defined the Internet as a network without central intelligence; a network based on end-to-end connections in which every user may reach any other user. Is standardization thinking about the needs of these users? Standards bodies tend to include manufacturers, service providers, and, in occasional cases of misfortune, government regulators. Statsny believes that these players in the VoIP/video standards process tend to forget that the users want connectivity any time, from any device, without walled gardens.
The IETF is working on interconnect and peering policies, but Isomaki sees communication service technologies fragmenting into incompatible segments. IMS appears to include most of the optional SIP functional standards, and Stastny hopes that this will put an end to Skype's walled garden. Service innovations are occurring in closed environments, but interoperability is coming via SIP.
Isomaki calls out that the boundary between IMS and IETF SIP has blurred, especially in real deployments. The difference seems to be in the business model, although you can also see IMS having a greater reliance on network intelligence than upon individual client intelligence. Although IMS has become the standard architecture for vertically-mnded operators, you can also see it showing up at Internet SIP VoIP providers, and within enterprise deployments as a PBX replacement. Creating a user agent that works across these varied environments has been a challenge, though interoperability is improving in newer IMS deployments.
The applications using IPTV standards are diverse: entertainment, emergency services, advertising, service information, parental controls, third-party content services, interactive communications, games, and photography. And so, IPTV content needs to be sharable across a many devices. Levin sees service providers interested in IPTV standards because of cost reduction (services become independent of the physical infrastructure), rapid services creation, and easy third-party integration. Although I didn't quite buy that Microsoft's Connected Services Framework (CSF) would be the panacea, I do believe that Microsoft - along with any other major vendor of content or Internet communications - would have to be crazy to impede a move towards full interchange over these protocols.