Calling something an experiment…

Calling it an experiment gives you permission to fail.”
A.J. Jacobs

It’s usually really cheap to experiment with data (assuming that it’s data you’ve already collected and curated).

What if you combine that “license to fail” insight with yesterday’s start of the Minimum Viable Telco (and OSS) movement? Can we use experiments to trial increased minimalism and find a way to reduce the pyramid of OSS pain? OSS the world over are overwhelmed by the complexity of uncountable variants. These variants all need to be conceptualised, designed for, developed for, tested for (not to mention when there are variants we haven’t identified that lead to fall-outs). Think of the effort that requires!

I love the concept of A/B testing. It’s used to trial two variants and watch what happens. Can we use our OSS and decision support tools to selectively drop stuff off and see whether there is any loss of fidelity? Can we trigger a chain reaction of A/B (ie Darwinian) tests to weed out the variants that don’t really matter and determine what the MVP really is?

Machines are really good at handling millions of variants. Us humans, not so much. Getting humans to accept reduction can be extremely painful (ever tried convincing a marketing department to drop one of its product lines?) Is it time for us to use exponential technology to conduct more reductionist experiments??

The network must at least break even

I made the point that there was one rule that had to govern any operator shift of focus to higher service layers—the network itself must remain profitable. You can’t say you’ll earn new revenue that in part at least will subsidize a network loss, because competitors with no network and no losses will then have a pricing advantage you can’t make up. What higher-layer services could do is reduce the cost-reduction pressure on networks, allowing the focus to become “break-even” and not “profitable” because profits are increasing elsewhere.”
Tom Nolle

Notice how obvious that sounds when it’s spelled out? If CSPs want to move to a DSP business model to counter-act the OTT business models that they’re losing share of wallet to, they still need to ensure the network remains profitable to avoid a pricing disadvantage.

But with revenue per bit declining (ie the network has diminishing ability to generate a premium) and the complexity of networks increasing (at least in terms of having an increasing array of disparate technologies to integrate), the opportunity for the network to remain profitable is also diminishing.

You can see why cost-out / automation are two of the biggest buzzwords in OSS, because for all its perceived failings, OSS represents the only way to prevent the network being a burden (think of the network on the right-hand side of the whale curve if the OSS can’t provide the necessary operational efficiencies).

The challenge for CSPs and OSS exponents alike is to identify, deliver and maintain the higher-layer services that customers are willing to pay a premium on. This is outside the comfort-zone of traditional OSS and to be honest, is probably too broad to cover by any one vendor anyway. This is potentially where long-tail dynamics come into play within the small-grid model again.

Strategic planning – boiling frogs

“The idea of ‘boiling frogs’ relates to the anecdotal frog that, in theory, doesn’t jump out of the pot if you raise the temperature very gradually and ends up being boiled alive. Apparently the latest biological research is that the frog actually would jump out, which is perhaps encouraging for him and for people trying to be creative. An example of boiling frogs is climate change, which seems to be happening so gradually that people are willing to completely ignore it, and one day this may end up being to their peril.
Alan Iny

This is the fourth, and last, post in a series designed to raise OSS risk awareness through strategic scenario planning.

Interestingly, many of the boiling frogs that face the OSS industry were discussed in yesterday’s “elephants in the room,” with many being unwilling to accept the fundamental changes that are going on around us. These include

  1. Our customers’ businesses were built around connectivity and we built OSS to support that. Now they’re built around technologies and services that are more flexible and varied, as are their business models. Not all OSS are adapting to this change
  2. Many OSS and their underpinning technology stacks are struggling to cope with current operational loads, with operators kicking off activities and then having to take a coffee or lunch break. With a touch point explosion looming due to network virtualisation, sensor networks and other technologies, some OSS could become unviable
  3. New paradigms within related tech (eg network virtualisation) has the potential to supersede traditional OSS models due to their thirst for improvement versus the traditionalists’ more laborious approaches
  4. “Innovation at the speed of software” is the motto for next-generation CSP services so if your OSS delivers locked-in operational insights only, it will be overtaken by the need for fast, adaptable insight engines
  5. Many of our customers are seeing declining revenue streams from their traditional products and services. Down-trending revenues have a tendency to lead towards diminishing project budget allocations. And being one of the bigger, but less tangible cost items, OSS budgets are often targeted. That’s bad news for our products, projects and ability to earn a wage
  6. The onward march of technological progress within CSPs appears to be creating ever more complexity at all levels of the organisations, thus increasing risks

I’d love to post-edit your ideas into this, so please drop me a note with the other boiling frogs that I’m ignoring at my peril. 🙂

Strategic planning – wild cards

A synonym for ‘wild cards’ in many ways is the Black Swan. We’re talking about unexpected, high impact things. We have to recognize that no matter how much data we have about trends and predictions of what’s going to happen in the future there will still be wild cards.
Alan Iny

OSS are responsible for network monitoring and fault management; with most (but not all) relying on anomaly detection, event correlation and pattern detection based on historical events.

By nature, black swan events have no precedent on which to apply future models. In today’s blog we’ll pick three classes of black swan events to let you ponder the risk/impact they might have on your OSS (either as vendor or operator):

  1. OSS become superseded:
    1. Network virtualisation research spawns a new algorithm that automates everything from the time of a service is invoked
    2. Technological singularity is reached far earlier than expected and networks are able to self-heal, coping with any network failure scenario
    3. Predictive analysis becomes so advanced that all issues are resolved before occurring, Minority Report style
    4. Global economic collapse means the costs of implementing and maintaining OSS outweigh benefits. A globalised labour force brings manual processing costs and risks down below digital processing costs
    5. The touchpoint explosion reaches such a scale that it is no longer viable to monitor and manage any devices on the network. Virtual resources are failing and being killed faster than they can be phoenixed or upscaled by central processing
    6. Amazon rolls out a free global network that soon carries 99% of the world’s traffic and they build in-house OSS tools, thus culling the customer base for OSS
    7. The world’s services “go crypto-cloud” due to central intelligence “lawful intercept” activities on carrier links. Data centres and network aggregation links interconnect all services, so OSS become irrelevant being replaced by encrypted-DCIM-oriented tool-sets
  2. The networks / services that OSS monitor and manage become redundant or inoperable:
    1. An electro-magnetic pulse disables global networks and wipes all digital storage, forcing operators to re-build and revert to historical information stored on paper
    2. A new technology allows any user device to communicate with any other user device globally without needing an intermediate network
    3. Network security breaches by one major player controls every global e-business and places a 50% revenue tax on every company making it no longer commercially viable to run electronic businesses
    4. A biomedical breakthrough means our bodies and embedded peripherals become our network devices that generate information so confidential that OSS are not allowed to process data streams for privacy reasons
    5. Global Telco deregulation means that network services become so commoditised in price that operators can no longer build the networks to support an insatiable global bandwidth demand. Community mesh networks prevail that don’t have a single owning authority. Each community member has their own device to manage with negligible need for network monitoring and management beyond their local domain
    6. Global carriers take heed of ruthless simplification messages on PAOSS. Customer orders for communications services becoming building-block catalog items, turning OSS into glorified service catalogs
  3. The technologies that underpin OSS lose their relevance:
    1. Databases, which all OSS are currently built upon, are superseded by quantum storage, which require a whole new way of storing and surfacing information
    2. HyperBrain network technology is based on principles far removed from current networks and doesn’t use FCAPS (faults, configuration items, performance counters, etc)
    3. Moore’s Law doubles in effect and every device down to the smallest sensor, will be so powerful that network intelligence can be more broadly distributed and there is no need for over-arching OSS

I’d love to post-edit your ideas into this, so please drop me a note with your most outlandish black swans 🙂

New category added

The network and network management worlds are watching on with interest as the network virtualisation snowball gains momentum. Passionate About OSS has hosted many posts on this subject, so I have created a new category here ( that will allow readers to find posts on this subject matter more easily.

For the moment, I’ve excluded press releases that relate to network virtualisation. What do you think? Should I include those posts too?

Don’t think! Don’t Hope! Do!

At least DO SOMETHING! DO! Don’t think, don’t hope, do! At least you can come off and say ‘I did this, I shepherded, I played on. At least I did something
John Kennedy.

Today is one of the most exciting days on the Australian calendar. It’s AFL Grand Final day. The game is Australian Rules Football.

The following clip shows some of the game’s finest motivators.

Australian Rules Football is probably foreign to many people outside Australia. The following clip shows a few of the features of the greatest game in the world.

Go the mighty hawks!

And when you’re stuck on a problem with your OSS, don’t forget to follow John Kennedy’s inspiring words… “Don’t think! Don’t hope! Do!