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As TM Forum broadens focus, IPsphere Forum acquisition under way

With a focus on results and enabling services, TM Forum signs paperwork to acquire IPsphere Forum.

As the TeleManagement Forum (TMF) seeks to broaden its member services offerings, it is acquiring the IPsphere Forum (IPSF), which had been tasked with building open frameworks for IP-based services, according to the two organizations.

"If it happens, it would be a great next step for both," said Jeff Cotrupe, founder and CEO of MarketPOWER, LLC, who has worked with both organizations extensively in the past. "The TMF would now directly be driving the industry activity around services -- in this case, the world's most important industry group when it comes to IP services," he said. "The IPSF would be doing [what] I told them 20 months ago they needed to do, which was to work hand-in-glove with the world's most important industry group when it comes to the network management and operations/business support systems [OSS/BSS] that are required to make its IP services vision a reality."  

The paperwork on the deal was set to be signed this week, with an official announcement and more details coming next week, according to Debbie Burkett, director of market collaboration for TM Forum.

For the IPsphere Forum, the acquisition is a validation of the work that began life as a Juniper-led Infranet Initiative, which sought to fill the need for a highly flexible operations framework.

Todd Shimizu, director of technology marketing for Juniper and current chairman of IPsphere Forum, wrote in an email that these priorities were still critically important to operators, speaking from his role at Juniper.

"Since 2005, Juniper has been very active in IPsphere Forum, and we've watched the vision grow," he wrote. "A great example of this is that the service providers see a framework like IPsphere as a potential answer for partnering not only with other network service providers but also [with] providers of content."

The key to enabling those partnerships, Shimizu wrote, is in the operational aspects, which IPsphere Forum has invested itself in improving and which are complementary to TM Forum's own goals.

"We are mainly involved in OSS and BSS solutions that will help companies transform their organization," Burkett said. "It's a really dynamic world out there, and we hope to help companies recognize trends and stay viable."

The acquisition, which comes after years of increasingly close partnerships between the two organizations, may also be an indicator of how serious TM Forum is about delivering results.

"[The acquisition] would reflect the continuing trend by the TMF in terms of moving outside its comfort zone -- it used to be strictly a 'closed shop' with no desire to work with anyone outside the TMF castle walls -- to join forces with others in the industry to launch useful collaborations and market-worthy solutions," Cotrupe said.

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