IMS is an architecture that provides a set of standard interfaces and elements, creating a good framework on the service provider's network to allow application developers and systems integrators to quickly develop and offer enterprise solutions. It is user-centric, access agnostic, intrinsically mobile, and offers a good way for telcos to deliver unified communication and FMC solutions to enterprises.
In addition, rich multimedia services are possible across both next-gen packet-switched and traditional circuit-switched networks, including mobility.
Discussions about IMS have been around for some time and we frequently see efforts to find killer applications to drive IMS. Everyone has great ideas, such as applications with presence or location-based information, but they are usually more "nice to have" than "need to have". This is because IMS was not meant to add something new for users but to deliver services in a more convergent and efficient way.
Most IMS applications could be deployed without IMS, and most of them are available today. IMS is about time to market, reliability and scalability. However, these benefits are still to be proven in operational environments and IMS is not the only way forward for hosted multimedia and collaborations services. Some of these services are moving to web services and service-oriented architecture (SOA) models. Although IMS alone might not be the total telecom network of the future, its co-existence with web services certainly may play an important role.
One of the key drivers for future IMS demand from the enterprises is the increasing popularity of hosted and managed services among SMEs. This is particularly true for SMEs, which are normally more keen to avoid spending time and effort building and managing their own communication platforms.
However, IP PBX vendors still dominate the enterprise market by selling customer-managed systems.