Is OSS on the nose?

Gain a modest reputation for being unreliable and you will never be asked to do a thing.”
Paul Theroux
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As the domain name says, I’m passionate about OSS. However, I’m starting to wonder whether its reputation outside of OSS fanatics (and there are many!) is on the nose to such an extent that the term “OSS” could soon be relegated to being a legacy term. OSS can have a reputation for being unreliable, for continually failing to deliver on cost, time and expected functionality. Executives often see OSS as a costly, but necessary evil.

Most currently available vendor OSS have been built upon supporting traditional networks (eg outside plant, transmission, POTS, etc), which had hierarchies of objects that were managed within relational databases. But as cloud / software-defined technologies are building momentum and fundamentally changing the nature of the networks that OSS are managing, our traditional network/service management techniques are also going to have to change drastically. Real-time asset tracking, transient infrastructure / services, virtualised inventory and unstructured data are not terms that traditional OSS deal well with, but these are core principles for the next generation infrastructure we’ll have to monitor and manage.

The traditional power-struggle within CSPs between networks and IT is swaying towards IT on the back of the cloud / SDx techniques, so there is a risk that OSS built for network teams will be dismissed as being legacy and having no relevance for the new world.
The IT teams have a point. There does need to be a whole new mode of thinking brought to the table, but what better starting point than having years of experience dealing with OSS, knowing their strengths / weaknesses and knowing that they must be done in better, more innovative ways?

I still consider the new tools to be operational support systems, so I think the term is relevant, but will its reputation allow the term “OSS” to survive into the next generation of tools? Are there enough of us fanatics (lunatics?) to ensure the term survives regardless of what these management tools morph into?

Read the Passionate About OSS blog for more.

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