Light Reading
Integrating networks and IT operations is an essential task for communications service providers if they're to stay relevant

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
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;

Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
Flash Poll
LRTV Custom TV
A New Security Paradigm in SDN/NFV

7|28|14   |   02:54   |   (0) comments


Paul Shaneck, Global Director Network Solutions for Symantec, discusses the evolving virtualized network, explaining how Symantec is leading the security discussion as it relates to SDN and NFV, and helping to ensure the network is protected and compliant.
LRTV Documentaries
Sprint's Network Evolution

7|24|14   |   14:59   |   (0) comments


Sprint's Jay Bluhm gives a keynote speech at the Big Telecom Event (BTE) about Sprint's network and services evolution strategy, including Spark.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE Keynote: The Software-Defined Operator

7|24|14   |   18:43   |   (1) comment


Deutsche Telekom's Axel Clauberg explains the concept of the software-defined operator to the Big Telecom Event (BTE) crowd.
Light Reedy
Numbers Are In: LR's 2014 Salary Survey

7|24|14   |   1:25   |   (7) comments


Our fourth annual Salary Survey paints a picture of who's hiring, firing, earning, and yearning for a change in the telecom industry.
LRTV Custom TV
Driving the Network Transformation

7|23|14   |   4:29   |   (0) comments


Intel's Sandra Rivera discusses network transformation and how Intel technologies, programs, and standards body efforts have helped the industry migration to SDN and NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
Distributed NFV-Based Business Services by RAD

7|18|14   |   5:38   |   (0) comments


With the ETSI-approved Distributed NFV PoC running in the background, RAD's CEO, Dror Bin, talks about why D-NFV makes compelling sense for service providers, and about the dollars and cents RAD is putting behind D-NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
MRV Accelerating Packet Optical Convergence

7|15|14   |   6:06   |   (0) comments


Giving you network insight to make your network smarter.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV-Enabled Ethernet for Generating New Revenues

7|15|14   |   5:49   |   (0) comments


Cyan's Planet Orchestrate allows service providers and their end-customers to activate software-based capabilities such as firewalls and encryption on top of existing Ethernet services in just minutes.
LRTV Custom TV
Symkloud NVF-Ready Video Transcoding, Big Data

7|9|14   |   3:41   |   (0) comments


Kontron and ISV partner Vantrix demonstrate high-performance video transcoding and data analytic solutions on same 2U standard platform that is ready for SDN and NFV deployments made by mobile, cable and cloud operators.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Evolving Role of Hybrid Video for Competitive Success

7|4|14   |   4:09   |   (0) comments


At Huawei's Global Analysts Summit in Shenzhen, China, Steven C. Hawley from TV Strategies speaks to us about the evolving role of hybrid video for competitive success.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
How CSPs Leverage Big Data in the Digital Economy

7|4|14   |   4:48   |   (2) comments


Justin van der Lande from Analysys Mason shares with us his views on how telecom operators can leverage customer asset monetization with big data. His discusses the current status of big data applications and the challenges and opportunities for telecom operators in the digital economy era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accelerator for Digital Business Future Oriented BSS

7|4|14   |   3:08   |   (0) comments


Mobile and internet are becoming intertwined; IT and CT are integrating; and leading CSPs have begun to transform to information service and entertainment providers. How should the BSS system evolve to enable this transformation? Karl Whitelock, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan, shares his views.
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Packet Design asks network professionals how they handle the cloud, SDN, and network management.
Today's Cartoon
Vacation Special Caption Competition Click Here
Latest Comment
Hot Topics
The Municipal Menace?
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, 7/22/2014
Cisco Puts a Fog Over IoT
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 7/23/2014
Apple Earnings: Strong iPhone Sales, iPad Sales Slump, $7.8B Profit
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 7/22/2014
Salary Survey Report 2014
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 7/23/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed