Feb 8, 2009

Diameter reality check

Diameter was adopted by 11 standard bodies as the main protocol for their NGN networks.
There is no other emerging protocol today or on the horizon that can become an alternative.
And Diameter is defiantly happening, as someone who live the Diameter market I can tell you, Diameter is booming.
So it seems the road ahead to world dominance is clear, well not so fast, there are a few bumps on the road that might block the path or at least slow the speed.

I believe that the main reason hampering Diameter adoption is interoperability, there are a few layers of interoperability here:

Legacy to NGN – Full Bottom up NGN deployments are rare we can count them on one hand, especially in today’s climate - operators want to get new multimedia services at least costs as possible. This means operators are launching hybrid semi NGN networks and using existing network functionality. However the two network parts the legacy and the NGN “speak” different protocols Diameter versus RADIUS/LDAP…. which don’t communicate.

Cross technologies – If I had a penny for every time I heard about Convergence and FMC, I wasn’t sitting on the couch and writing this blog, this is one of the industry’s hottest trends (and surprisingly it is really happening) The standard bodies have all lined up behind Diameter but (to make it interesting) they adopted Diameter differently (as usual politics and slightly different view of the world). Now you can imagine this is not helping an operator going FMC and want to connect the mobile Diameter interfaces based on 3GPP to the wireline Diameter interfaces based on ETSI TISPAN.

Vendor-lock in – I promise you this wasn’t written in the 70’s, problems has a strange habit of repapering. In Diameter which was designed to be very flexible and is still half cooked, this is a huge issue. For example there are RFP’s today in the market to connect the NSN Diameter Rf to Ericsson Diameter RF.

Still forming standards - Diameter interfaces are still fresh and changing all the time, more than this it seems Diameter is conquering more and more ground (do you remember COPS in 3GPP release 6 that was kicked out in release 7 ? or have you seen how Diameter spreading in LTE Control Plane – maybe it should be called Diameter plane) – the vast numbers of versions and releases, is certainly not helping adoption.

After this pessimistic blog, a few words of hope- I think those are serious issues on the road to Diameter wide spread adoption, they might slow the adoption, but my personal view is that there is nothing to block the way for Diameter adoption as the main protocol for telecom signaling and control

Next time Diameter and the Internet

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