Light Reading

Bridging the Chasm: A Manifesto

Ray Le Maistre
1/19/2011
50%
50%

What are the biggest challenges facing traditional communications service providers today?

Well, they need to:

  • find new ways to grow revenues, by developing and successfully selling new services and products;
  • cut costs;
  • develop and offer new services to market quickly (so, MUCH quicker than they're capable of right now); and
  • come to terms with the fact they're no longer the only source of real-time, multimedia communications.

A tough list. And while new technology can help service providers meet some of these challenges, it's only a small, though very important, piece of the pie.

The biggest piece of the pie, and the one that's going to be the hardest to swallow, is organizational, and relates to the operators' main asset -- their staff.

Historically (and currently, in most instances), service providers have organized themselves into teams that, while (supposedly) pulling in the same direction to the overall benefit of the company, have operated within their own confines -- in silos -- with very little, if any, interaction (even when it made sense).

Now, if those service providers that have relied on mass-market voice and enterprise connectivity for their revenues stand any chance of survival and becoming true next-generation service providers that can compete with the likes of Apple, Amazon and Google, that needs to change.

Here at Light Reading, we believe that service providers need to make a fundamental change to the way they're organized if they have aspirations to be more than just utility bit pipes -- they need to bring their networks and IT teams together as a single, integrated unit. This process -- the integration of these related but disparate teams -- is something we're calling Bridging the Chasm. That's because the divide between the two teams currently is wide and it's going to take a lot of hard work, organizational skills and sheer bloody-mindedness to bring them together.

It's a tough task but it's essential.

More than ever before, the networks and IT teams need each other. For almost the first time they need many of the same skills, need to be able to understand the same technical languages, and be able to communicate with each other. Communications service providers need to adapt to an IP-centric world where delivering a great customer experience from the moment a customer makes initial contact and then throughout their engagement (whether that's for one minute or 30 years) is absolutely critical. And that can't be achieved to scale and in real time unless there is true coordination and understanding between what are currently separate teams.

That applies equally to the challenge of developing relevant new services and products that people will want to buy. It's universally acknowledged that service providers need to work with third-party applications developers, and Heavy Reading research has shown that most operators recognize this as an essential relationship to build. But enabling that relationship means the operators need to create an automated process, involving networks assets and back-office software (billing, subscriber data management, provisioning and so on), that enables the developers to build, test and deliver the new applications. That can't be achieved in any meaningful, productive and profitable way in an environment where phrases such as "that's the billing team's problem" or "that's nothing to do with us -- it's a network issue" are commonplace.

Closely linked to this need to bring the two teams together is the increasing reliance by network operators on their Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) assets, something we highlighted in 2010, starting in February when we published The SPIT Manifesto. Essentially, communications service providers are increasingly reliant on their SPIT assets to remain competitive and enable their transformation from legacy carrier to next-generation service provider, and now they need to bring the networks and IT teams together so they can best utilize the capabilities inherent in those assets. The IT team alone can't deliver the required transformation on its own, and neither can the networks team.

Some operators have already taken some of the first steps towards Bridging the Chasm. One such step is to put a single executive in charge of networks and IT -- in other words, to have a joint CTO/CIO. UK operator BT Group took this step in mid-2009 when its then CTO Matt Bross left the company and his responsibilities were handed on to the then CIO Al-Noor Ramji. These days, Clive Selley is the executive in BT's Bridging the Chasm hotseat.

One operator has even managed to bridge the chasm from day one, and never have disparate network and IT teams. Nucleus Connect, the operator that's running Singapore's next-generation national broadband network, has had a combined team from day one. The company, though, was only formed in the first half of 2009, so it avoided any legacy issues, and is relatively small. However, the management team had the foresight to build a single technology team, and it has paid off, according to CEO David Storrie, who says the networks and IT folk hired to work together at Nucleus Connect have been learning from each other and identifying new ways of doing things more efficiently.

Storrie's story (if you'll pardon the phrase) will be the exception, of course. For most operators, Bridging the Chasm will be a Herculean operational challenge, but one that, we believe, they will have to undertake in one form or another. Some may opt to outsource the running of all network and IT systems to a third party, though that would be a move equally fraught with difficulties.

We expect, therefore, to see more and more operators take initial steps along the same lines as BT and gradually transform the way they run the very heart of their business operations. And we intend to track and monitor those strategies, plans and projects, and talk to the relevant people along the way about their goals, challenges, gains and failures. We think there will be plenty of each.

This is a transformation that will take years, and one that will involve a great deal of learning and sharing amongst the carrier community. We aim to be a part of that sharing and learning experience. That's why today is Day 1 of Light Reading's Bridging the Chasm editorial campaign, and we're opening with a message to communications service providers around the world: You need to do this -- let Light Reading's campaign, with its aim of sharing experiences and raising awareness, be a part of your process.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

(5)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Grenot
50%
50%
Grenot,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:15:06 PM
re: Bridging the Chasm: A Manifesto


Dear Ray,


Thanks for taking the initiative, as you did with SPIT a year ago. Simple maths:

<ol>
<li>To grow their revenues, service providers need to bring more value (simplistic...).</li>
<li>The ones who pay at the end are the users&nbsp;</li>
<li>User-centric values come from&nbsp;applications (Skype, YouTube, Facebook, Salesforce, public and private clouds hosted data apps, voice, visioconf...).</li>
</ol>

1+2+3 --&gt; Network service providers&nbsp;might only fight the race to the bottom if they link their network services to application services, which can only be done if IT and network team act as one. Or not, if not.


From an other standpoint, the fast rise of cloud-based IT might either be a big threat (will Internet take all at the end?) or a wonderful opportunity&nbsp;for service providers that will be&nbsp;able to closely link datacenters and application flexible provisioning with network behavior to guarantee performance from end (server) to end (desktop). Again a strategic choice to be decided, that implies imbrication of IT and network&nbsp;organizations&nbsp;- or not.


There are so many topics linked to the Chiasm... that it's better to stop here for today&nbsp;and&nbsp;have a last Talisker :-)&nbsp; - Kind regards. Thierry Grenot, CTO @ Ipanema Technologies

DCITDave
50%
50%
DCITDave,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:15:05 PM
re: Bridging the Chasm: A Manifesto


But have we got it all wrong on services?


A reader pointed out (via email) that, when it comes to cloud services and other IP-based offerings, "there are the kind of things that I buy that I might be happy to get from a service provider but I don&rsquo;t really see any advantage at the moment in it."


Interesting, eh? This transformation might not make&nbsp;a difference at all if service providers can't win over customers who have already been trained to rely on innovators like Amazon, Google, and Apple.

digits
50%
50%
digits,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:15:04 PM
re: Bridging the Chasm: A Manifesto


Are you suggesting that "customer experience" is important?


This could be revolutionary....someone tell AT&amp;T! &nbsp;:-)

DCITDave
50%
50%
DCITDave,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:15:04 PM
re: Bridging the Chasm: A Manifesto


The marriage of low latency broadband w/ apps and services could indeed make a difference.


At home, it's odd that I'd sooner buy a basket of&nbsp;cloud apps -- calendering sync, email, storage, photo sharing -- from a hardware vendor (Apple) instead of my broadband AND mobile service provider (AT&amp;T).


Why?


Apple offers them in a simple, integrated way. AT&amp;T? I dunno.


&nbsp;

digits
50%
50%
digits,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:15:04 PM
re: Bridging the Chasm: A Manifesto


Phil


I think the key few words in that reader response are "at the moment"...


Telcos need to be decisive -- make key decisions about what they want to be and how they are going to operate -- and act fast. Some have/are, others aren't/haven't.


Re the cloud -- I think it will be key to see what happens once FTTH, LTE, and Docsis 3.0 access services are more prevalent. If service providers can marry up low latency broadband access with SECURE connections to cloud resources, then they have a chance.


Thierry - thanks as always for your comments. Always much appreciated!


&nbsp;


&nbsp;

Flash Poll
From The Founder
Network architects aiming to upgrade their networks to support agile, open, virtualized services in the 21st century need to consider new criteria when choosing between technology suppliers.
Live Streaming Video
BTE 2015 Sponsor Keynote: HP
Dr. Prodip Sen, CTO, Network Functions Virtualization, HP
LRTV Documentaries
IoT in Action

6|30|15   |   1:39   |   (5) comments


Two co-workers discuss the benefits of IoT technology.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson Opens Up on OPNFV

6|30|15   |   14:16   |   (0) comments


Martin Bäckström, VP and head of industry area Datacom at Ericsson, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the emergence of OPNFV, the importance of standards and Ericsson's OPNFV plans.
LRTV Custom TV
NetNumber Founder Discusses NFV/SDN Impact on SP Networks

6|26|15   |   4:15   |   (0) comments


NetNumber Founder Doug Ranalli examines why SPs need a new network infrastructure for service agility. While NFV and SDN are the tools, the old ways of thinking about signaling control are inhibitors. Doug provides his recommendations.
LRTV Custom TV
Orchestrating NFV vCPE Services Across Multivendor Networks

6|26|15   |   5:46   |   (0) comments


Nirav Modi provides an overview of vCPE, the fastest-growing NFV use case, showing how Cyan's Blue Planet orchestrates vCPE services across a multivendor infrastructure to rapidly deliver new managed services for business customers.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE at LTE Summit Amsterdam 2015

6|26|15   |     |   (0) comments


As one of the leading global telecommunications providers, ZTE presented its cutting-edge technology at LTE World Summit 2015 in Amsterdam. On display at ZTE's booth were the latest R&D achievements in wireless, 5G development, HetNet, deep convergence of FDD and TDD, and RCS/IMD/iSDN/vCN.
LRTV Documentaries
OPNFV Director Opens Up on Women in Tech

6|25|15   |   3:25   |   (0) comments


Heather Kirksey, the director of the OPNFV, gets real about the gender disparity in open source and standards and discusses how we can change both the conversation and the gender dynamics.
LRTV Custom TV
Symantec's Service Provider Security Strategy

6|24|15   |   7:06   |   (0) comments


Didi Dayton explores Symantec's emerging enterprise security strategies for service providers. Highlights include 'killing the password,' self-defense, advanced analytics and adaptive response in a service provider architecture.
Between the CEOs
Debating Network Evolution With Cisco's Cedrik Neike

6|23|15   |   12:54   |   (2) comments


Cedrik Neike, SVP of Global Service Provider, Service Delivery, at Cisco, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about solving service provider customer problems in a virtualized, DevOps world, including multivendor support and the future of network procurement.
LRTV Documentaries
Vodafone: What's Good for Moms Is Good for Business

6|23|15   |   3:04   |   (3) comments


Megan Doberneck, the general counsel for Vodafone Americas, discusses her company's progressive maternity policy, explains why promoting women in tech is good business and offers some some good advice for any women in the industry.
LRTV Interviews
NFV: Ready for Prime Time

6|23|15   |   05:09   |   (1) comment


At BTE 2015, Vip mobile CTO Dejan Kastelic talks about how NFV is ready for the real world and how Telekom Austria is introducing centralized resources for its group operations.
LRTV Documentaries
Tykes Talk Tech

6|22|15   |   02:30   |   (9) comments


What does optical fiber look like? When will 5G arrive? What's the WiFi password at Ikea? Light Reading sat down with three 8-year-olds to answer some of the communications industry's most burning questions...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Partners With TDC for World's First Early DOCSIS 3.1 Field Test

6|22|15   |   3:06   |   (0) comments


In a move to enhance user experience, Denmark's TDC aims to become an early adopter of DOCSIS 3.1. In partnership with Huawei, TDC recently ran the world's first field tests on its coax network that reached speeds nearing 1 Gbit/s.
Upcoming Live Events
September 16-17, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Hot Topics
Staying Productive With My Office-in-a-Bag
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 6/25/2015
Who's Feeding Fiber to LinkNYC Hotspots?
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 6/29/2015
Eurobites: Activist Investor Takes Stake in AlcaLu
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 6/30/2015
What's in Your Office-in-a-Bag?
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 6/26/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Casa Systems has been going from strength to strength over the last couple of years. In 2013, it became the first vendor to ship an integrated CCAP device -- the ...
Cedrik Neike, SVP of Global Service Provider, Service Delivery, at Cisco, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about solving service provider customer problems in a virtualized, DevOps world, including multivendor support and the future of network procurement.
Cats with Phones