My IMS=Dead Parrot post the other week drew a significant amount of attention and argument, as I anticipated. It was followed by more comments in another post.
One of the consistent arguments that was advanced was that IMS is the only standardised mechanism for the control plane for telco-grade IP networks.
From my stance, a central part of my argument is that I don't see IMS as a suitable platform for future revenue-generating, customer-demanded services and applications, at a device level or through integration with Web/consumer electronics/enterprise/IT. I also think it is inflexible in terms of supported business models, for example around wholesale or SIM-free adhoc services.
In a nutshell therefore - is it better to have:
a) A cast-iron control layer for services that nobody wants, or...
b) A less-optimal control layer that permits more service innovation?
From a million-foot view, are we moving to a situation where the notion of a single, all-encompassing telecom control plane is a ridiculous notion, similar to the idea of a government controlling all its citizens through a single database and monitoring system?
(See what I just did there, political wonks reading this?)
Are the costs and inflexibilities and "injustices" (in technology, anything which is user-unfriendly) worth it, just to achieve pure elegance of the ultimate machine?
The more I think about this, the more the whole notion of a single IMS control plane for IP looks exactly like a totalitarian state, where everything is done "for your own good". Policy control is the equivalent of the nannying Health and Safety Executive, the HSS and SIM is the equivalent of the National ID Database and ID cards, DPI is the equivalent of pervasive CCTV cameras. And the whole thing is hugely expensive for taxpayers (end users) and doesn't actually work because there are always flaws in the system.
Personally, I much prefer to live in a libertarian society, where there are specific checks and balances at particular points. I'm happy with passport controls at borders, or fines for people jumping red lights. I don't mind tax evaders being pursued. I'm in favour of jury trials and punishing prison sentences. But I don't want to live inside The Matrix.
The Internet works well enough without a centralised control plane. Various point solutions like CDNs or peering points act as a form of decentralised, distributed and collaborative control, which works pretty well, most of the time. Other large-scale systems work well without central control as well - in fact, the whole basis of capitalist economies revolves around the concept.
Apologies for the high-level "philosophical" nature of this post. But after the last week or two of discussions, I am increasingly of the opinion that IMS has a flawed central assumption: that an all-encompassing "control plane" is necessary, feasible or even desirable.