Letting the OctopOSS Out of the Box

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today”
Abraham Lincoln

The term “out of the box” is one that is regularly heard in vendor sales pitches.

The term can be convincing to the customer, but conniving to the implementers.

In my opinion, there is no such thing as “out of the box” functionality. The term gives the impression that the applications can be installed and the CSP / Customer can just start using it. This may be true in theory, but in practice the applications tend to require a significant amount of configuration and / or data loads before they start to perform in a manner that closely resembles the customer’s needs.

Of particular interest in when “out of the box” is used to describe mediation device drivers (MDD). Whilst a vendor may have delivered an MDD to interface with an identical piece of kit (eg NMS, EMS, NE) at a previous customer it will probably still require customisation for the following reasons:

  • The same device type in each customer’s network is likely to be set up slightly differently so a different set of commands is required to run it. For example, a particular legacy voice switch has a list of commands that fills 10,000 pages of documentation. Whilst voice services are quite ubiquitous, each carrier sets their switches up slightly differently
  • Each customer has a slightly different naming convention, so different data parsing rules can be required to interpret the data being received across the interface
  • Network Elements and / or NMS can have multiple non-mandatory fields that data can be optionally stored in and can be made use of differently in different contexts

If you’re a customer, take the term with a grain of salt. If you’re a salesperson, use the term with clearly articulated caveats as your sales pitch may be thrusting unrealistic customer expectations upon your implementation team

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