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OSS Gets Sexy at ESDN

Carol Wilson
9/24/2013

Arguably the hottest topic at the upcoming Ethernet & SDN Expo (ESDN) will be the profound impact software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) are predicted to have on the way communications services are provisioned, monitored, rated, and billed.

What does SDN mean for the OSS and BSS platforms that underpin the operations and business processes at communications service providers?

That OSS and BSS are embroiled in a hot debate might surprise those who don't think of OSSs as very sexy stuff, but the multiple ESDN panels addressing operations issues, including "Network Automation & Orchestration With Carrier SDN & NFV," are attracting a lot of interest. This clearly indicates that the telecom industry is aware of the potential for operations issues to scuttle an early success for virtualization in carrier networks.

That session and associated ones will be moderated by Heavy Reading senior analyst Caroline Chappell, who has been deeply engaged in this topic recently. (See: SDN & NFV to Shake Up Operator OSS Market, Heavy Reading Finds and SDN & NFV: A Revolution in the Making). As Chappell notes, SDN and NFV would actually enable the kind of programmability that network operators have been seeking from next-gen OSS strategies involving lengthy transformations that haven't delivered on time or as envisioned.

That would seem to be good news for operators, but there are complications, notably around how SDN controllers would fit into or interact with OSS and BSS platforms. In this early phase of virtualization, the answers aren't all clear.

"Different approaches to network management will result in different levels of disruption," Chappell told us. "In addition, the role of network equipment vendors is changing as they are currently leading the development of next-generation architectures that attempt to harmonize OSSs with SDN and NFV. We also are expecting to see key things such as lifecycle management be done in the cloud in an NFV context. But these are all aspects of this OSS orchestration that are in play."

Some vendors, including some coming into the space from adjacent sectors, are bringing some new perspectives, she said, and that's a clear sign there will be more competition to deliver OSS answers as soon as next year.

All this will be the subject of much debate at the Javits Center in New York City, as ESDN launches as a co-located event with Interop, which also has a strong SDN flavor.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading


Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to the Ethernet & SDN Expo, a Light Reading Live event taking place Oct. 2-3, 2013, at the Javits Center in New York City. Co-located with Interop, Light Reading's Ethernet & SDN Expo will focus on how the convergence of Carrier Ethernet 2.0 with emerging carrier software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) technologies could change the whole telecom landscape for service providers. For more information, or to register,
click here
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sam masud
sam masud
9/24/2013 | 12:20:28 PM
Re: Enter the Service Provider IT operations team....
Seven,

 

Thanks for taking time to provide a response to my post. What you said about VZ migrating from ATM-based to Ethernet-based OLTs was really interesting. It's always the politics at any company, especially a big company, isn't it.

 

BTW, my comment about the culture differences, I was thinking more about people who come from a traditional IT background in contrast to who from a service provider IT (SPIT--to use an LR term) background.
C Chappell
C Chappell
9/24/2013 | 12:08:56 PM
Re: Enter the Service Provider IT operations team....
It's a platform announcement. More interesting to me is Cisco's upcoming new OSS environment for SDN and NFV - which will be key to operationalizing not only its own but third party network functions and platforms. 
TeleWRTRLiz
TeleWRTRLiz
9/24/2013 | 11:28:25 AM
Re: Enter the Service Provider IT operations team....
With that in mind, what do you think of the Cisco annoucement?
brookseven
brookseven
9/24/2013 | 11:24:06 AM
Re: Enter the Service Provider IT operations team....
 

ping,

There are of course IT folks at the carriers.  They have internal IT like any other company.

I think what Carol was saying gently but I will say bluntly is large organizations of all types have lots of politics.  The people at the top of major companies are more or less politicians.  They have to be to have risen from the bottom to reach the top.  So, what Network VP is going to hand the keys of his portion of the network and reliquinsh authority to some other group.  You are right...the answer is none.

What happens then is that the skilled Network IT folks get no real new work.  Folks then break into several camps, where the most aggressive of them find organizations that need their skills.  They leave and then who is left.  At least Verizon, kept its Tampa group together.  How many IT developers are inside AT&T?  And by that I mean code monkeys - not spec or test folks.

Let me give you an anecdote....when we were working on FiOS our friends at Verizon wanted to go from ATM uplinks in the OLT to Ethernet ones.  We worked on this and the network specification folks came up with a model that was quite complex.  We said okay we will do this but shouldn't we talk to the OSS folks first to see if they can handle this model?  The answer came back that there was no need.  So, we produced it.  We finally got to talk to the OSS folks...who told us that the model was too complex and we needed to revert to a simpler model.  In fact, the simple model we originally offered was what was adopted.

That is what I think is going to happen here.  I used to "suggest" a model that I called the "Grandma Model".  If you can not explain the model to your Grandmother, it is probably too complex and not worth doing.  I say that as a joke, but what I see is these notions that are put forth by really smart people.  The end consumer of the models are much less educated and skilled.  They need a model that says, if I have X then do Y.  They don't need some model that requires an advanced degree.

seven
C Chappell
C Chappell
9/24/2013 | 11:19:54 AM
Re: Enter the Service Provider IT operations team....
Actually, I'm very optimistic about telcos' ability to adopt these technologies. Sure, this does require a synthesis of networking, cloud and OSS skillsets and there's a lot of 'reprogramming' of corporate mindsets and re-engineering of operational processes to be done. But in all the large operators I've spoken to, there are visionary thinkers as well as network architects and operations people with an impressive grasp of the cloud and how it can change things. And they are working at a blistering pace. It's many of the vendors that have been wrong-footed here. 
TeleWRTRLiz
TeleWRTRLiz
9/24/2013 | 11:00:40 AM
Re: Enter the Service Provider IT operations team....
Probably the best chance for overcoming internal barriers would be at companies like Telefonica which spun off Telefonica Digital, or Vodafone with Vodafone xone., etc. 
sam masud
sam masud
9/24/2013 | 10:39:34 AM
Re: Enter the Service Provider IT operations team....
If what you say is correct, then this drive for SDN/NFV might be facing a real cultural challenge not unsimilar to the Bell heads and Data heads in the early days of the Internet, the difference being we're now talking about the telecom folks and IT folks.
brookseven
brookseven
9/24/2013 | 10:01:47 AM
Re: Enter the Service Provider IT operations team....
To answer the question first off, there are boatloads of them.

The challenge is that most of them work for smaller SaaS providers or Equipment companies.

I think the bigger issue is that almost none of them want to work for a Tier 1 carrier.   I think this is even bigger than the barrier issue.  The folks that like the work have run kicking and screaming from large environments to small for exactly...Can I make an impact? issue.

seven

 
Carol Wilson
Carol Wilson
9/24/2013 | 9:14:37 AM
Re: Enter the Service Provider IT operations team....
Talent is one challenge, to be sure. But there are so many internal barriers to break down that getting to the point where someone who IS properly trained could actually have an impact seems a ways off yet.
Ray@LR
[email protected]
9/24/2013 | 8:58:19 AM
Enter the Service Provider IT operations team....
It's like we've been saying for a few years now, the service provider IT (SPIT) systems hold they key to ythe future of communications services and the fate of the companies that are in the comms networking/services/apps ecosystem.

The tricky part for all involved is that the ideal network operations person needed these days is someone with a background in PSTN network management who is up to speed with modern IT and IP protocols, languages and applications. 

How many of these people exist?

 
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