Cloud Services

Experiencing a Technology Leap Year

It wasn't until I was walking out of the venerable FIRA convention center at Mobile World Congress for the last time late on Feb. 29 that I realized it was a leap day.

And overall, this seemed fitting, because an informal message I took from the event is that 2012 meets many of the criteria to be what I consider a technology "leap year." Although much more difficult to define, and lacking the cadence of a calendar leap year, the impact of a technology leap year can be much more profound than simply having one additional day to analyze telecom trends.

Essentially, I define a technology leap year as one in which critical technologies take the leap from development to commercialization and monetization phases. The upside is more innovative services and applications for end users; the downside for some vendors and carriers is that it accelerates the rate of legacy service erosion.

And since then, I have worked on a number of research projects that have only served to reinforce that key technologies are aligning celestially to make this happen.

Are You Customer Experienced?
The need to implement customer experience management (CEM) was well documented at MWC. (See MWC 2012: CEM Pays Off.)

However, I must admit I am not fond of the term CEM, because the definition is too broad. It can mean OSS/BSS modernization, CRM, optimizing RAN networks to deliver personalized services, video optimization -- really anything.

Still, despite this, the industry acceptance of CEM importantly confirms that we are entering an implementation and monetization phase for key CEM enablers -- including SDM and analytics, which both had a strong showing at MWC. (See our Monetizing SDM & Analytics Briefing Center.)

This is also consistent with research we conducted late last year that revealed network operators are taking SDM to the next step and moving from simply leveraging to reducing data management costs to integrating SDM with analytics to offer personalized real-time services aligned with the spirit of CEM. This approach, which we referred to as pragmatic promotion in a recent white paper, is alive and well and should only expand in importance, given the technology is now mature and customers expect it.

Cloud Optimized
Another highly touted topic at MWC was the need to optimize and expose applications in the cloud to achieve scale and move them closer to the subscriber.

Here again, while the architecture is fairly fluid, a key takeaway is that the cloud is being deployed in response to concrete implementation and customer requirements. In turn, this phase will impact a number of products, such as application delivery controllers (ADCs), and make them more application-aware than ever before. Similarly, although I wasn't at the recent Ethernet Expo, event coverage also documented the swing in discussion to an application focus. (See Ethernet Europe Wrap.)

I consider this another example of the industry as a whole shifting focus from Layer 3 and 4 routing to a greater emphasis on Layer 7 -- the application layer.

Fixing the All-IP Control Plane
But there have been technology missteps as well, including underestimating the impact of LTE applications on next-gen signaling networks. (See New iPad Brews LTE Signaling Storm .)

Even though Diameter routing continues to be a topic that is still somewhat below the radar, it gained more exposure at MWC, and I believe will become more important as mobile video applications and related signaling sessions continue to skyrocket.

While we are currently conducting research on this topic to better understand market sizing and deployment timelines, architectures such as standalone Diameter routing agents (DRAs), like SS7 networks before them, should ensure there is enough control capacity to ensure a smooth implementation phase.

As a result, although experience has shown fundamental technology shifts can be difficult for some vendors and carriers to navigate, and in some cases even survive, after years of waiting, ready or not, it appears it's once again game on.

— Jim Hodges, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading

For more information about Heavy Reading's "Optimizing Diameter-Based Signaling Networks" multi-client study, please contact:

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