NFV as the catalyst for a new OSS world order

operators that seek to implement NFV without preparing their OSS to support it are unlikely to be successful in capturing the new revenue-generating and cost-saving opportunities. OSS should not be an afterthought; it will continue to be central to the operational efficiency and agility of the service provider.”
James Crawshaw
in “Next-Gen OSS for Hybrid Virtualized Networks.”

The quote above comes via an article by Ray Le Maistre entitled, “NFV Should Be Catalyst for OSS Rethink.” Ray’s blog also states, “OSS transformation projects have a poor track record, notes Crawshaw, while enabling integrated management and implementing an evolved OSS will require a new set of skills, process engineering and “a change in mindset that is open to concepts such as DevOps and fail-fast,” notes the analyst.”

Ray comments at the bottom of his article, “There are certain things that will be relevant to all operators and none that will be relevant to all… in theory, a very smart OSS/NFV savvy systems integrator should be cleaning up RIGHT NOW in this market.”

These are some great insights from James and Ray. Unfortunately, they also mark what is a current dilemma for providers who are committing to a virtualised world. Whereas the legacy OSS had a lot of pre-baked functionality already coded, and needed more configuration than code development, the new world of OSS does need more coder-centric integration work.

The question I am pondering is whether this is:

  1. A permanent shift (ie a majority of work will be done by coders to make API-based customisations); or
  2. Whether it is just a temporary state pending the wild-west of NFV/OSS/DevOps to mature to a point where the main building blocks / capabilities are developed and we revert to a heavy bias towards configuration, not development

If it becomes the former, as an industry we need to be focussing our attention on developing more of the skillsets that overlap in the yellow overlap in the Venn diagram below. There are too few people with the paired expertise in networks (particularly virtualised networks) and IT / coding (particularly in our current DevOps / API environment). In fact, in a world of increasingly software-defined networking, does it become increasingly difficult to be a networking expert without the IT / coding skills?

Even rarer is the mythical beast that sits in the red union of this Venn diagram – the one who actually gets what this all means for the organisations implementing this new world order and is navigating them through it. To paraphrase Ray, “a systems integrator that has great expertise in the red zone should be cleaning up RIGHT NOW in this market.”

But are they really mythical beasts? Do you know any??

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