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July 2006
Guest contributors

Open source helps narrow the digital divide
France Telecom’s new generation of services are based on Open Source
Interview with Luis Millán Vázquez de Miguel, Extremadura Regional Government, Spain Interview with Frédéric Taieb,
France Télécom
France Telecom’s new generation of services are based on Open Source
Interview with Frederic Taieb, Project Director, France Télécom
The telecoms world is still going through some profound changes: how does France Telecom see the years ahead?
France Telecom has launched its NExT (New Experiences in Telecoms) program, designed to enable the Group to develop integrated offerings and convergent services very rapidly. Our strategy of convergence aims to exploit the Group’s position within the various networks to establish services that are as independent as possible for adjacent networks. Our customers will have totally technology- and channel-independent access to our services.

Each individual’s media ‘content’ will follow them from the workplace to the home and back again. The Group is capitalizing even further on its significant capacity for innovation thanks to its new innovation center and a shared product development center to accelerate the process of bringing new services to the market. A unified network management structure for each country has also been implemented.

With all these transformations, will your information systems have to be adapted to increase the Group’s responsiveness still further?
A major program to update the technical infrastructure for our information systems was launched in 1998, under the name of ‘Archimedes’. Its aim was to take advantage of the best Internet technologies and standardize components to the maximum. Flexibility and openness should enable us to adapt rapidly to changes in business processes and give IT teams greater creative freedom when it comes to building new services for France Telecom. Since 2004, our information systems have been serving 200,000 users and feature some 15,000 UNIX and MVS servers, as well as more than a thousand applications.
The Archimedes program has defined a new technology platform, and has provided the basic building blocks for application projects including standard networks and servers, along with infrastructure tools (UNIX, administration and middleware). This effectively prevented each of the businesses within the Group from having to design their own. Development rules were also defined, with the aim of sharing development work to the maximum to deliver the same kinds of services to all our customers. As a result, we are distributing the services that have been created and the know-how acquired as part of this major program at Group level to support our end customers, as we have with the management and development of Address+ .

Can you tell us what are the main benefits of Address+ for your customers?
Address+ is a typical example of a convergent service that makes our customers’ lives easier. It is a secure address book to which customers have direct access at any time, from anywhere, through whatever means of access is most convenient at the time. It is a perfect illustration of the type of service France Telecom can offer its customers; it is unique on the market for all three main channels: fixed phone lines, mobile phones and the Internet. Of course, the infrastructure behind this type of service is highly secure, with extremely high levels of availability to guarantee continuous service, and also high levels of performance in terms of response times. It is based on Bull’s NovaScale servers, Linux and Oracle 9i RAC for the database, which already contained 8,000,000 users by July 2006.
But we have plenty of other services, such as the distribution of TV content, music, and VoD (Video on demand), all of them also accessible via all of the three channels I’ve already mentioned. We also offer a bundle of free TNT channels, others dedicated to special events and bundles that can be bought from France Telecom. That’s were we really deliver added value: we offer our customers integrated services that are truly innovative, powerful and easy to live with.

France Telecom is one of the world’s leading telecommunications operators, serving 147 million customers across five continents (220 countries or territories) as at 31 March 2006, with a consolidated turnover of €49 billion under IFRS accounting regulations (€12.8 billion in Q1 2006). Launched in June 2005, the NExT program (New Experiences in Telecoms) is enabling the operator to continue its transformation as an integrated operator, with the aim of ensuring that France Telecom is the benchmark operator for new telecoms services in Europe. So, on 1 June 2006, Orange became the Group’s one and only brand for Internet, television and mobile services in France and the UK, while Orange Business Services, the brand for the Group’s services to businesses worldwide, France Telecom is the second largest mobile telephony and Internet access provider in Europe, and one of the leading global providers of telecommunications services to multinational companies.

Bull is one of France Telecom’s main IT partners, and has been entrusted with a number of projects, among them providing support for Address+, a complete solution featuring address books that are shared by all the networks (fixed, mobile, IP), and as of July 2006 already has some eight million subscribers. Bull has been responsible for: integrating the PIM (Personal Information Management) product supplied by its partner Voxmobili; developing the convergence platform, notably using Java and Open Source applications (Apache, JOnAS…); and providing the Itanium® infrastructure with its Bull NovaScale® servers. Address+ manages 7.6 million address books and 12,000 synchronizations a day, with 1.6 million pages being visited each day.

See also: Frédéric Taieb testimony video, April 2006
at Cannes International Seminar "IT architectures: the new European dynamic" >>

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