An OSS takes flight

Heights by great men reached and kept were not obtained by sudden flight but, while their companions slept, they were toiling upward in the night.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

110 years ago today, the Wright Brothers made the first manned flight, a well known story. Not quite so well known is the story of Samuel Langley, a highly educated, distinguished individual who was seen as the man most likely to invent the first manned aeroplane. He was so highly regarded that the US Government backed him with $50,000 plus further backing from the Smithsonian institute. This compared with the Wrights funding of their own endeavours from personal funds tallying approximately $1,000.

The fascinating Samuel Langley story is told here. It’s a short story and well worth the read.

I know this has little to do with OSS, but I wonder whether there is (or will be) a similarly unheralded team working on the next big thing in OSS that renders existing products by the behemoths highly depreciated in value?

My definition of the next big thing includes the following attributes that are rarely found in current OSS:

  • A natural language user interface, like a Google search, with the smarts to interrogate data and return results
  • Data-driven search rather than integration wherever possible
  • Service / application layer abstraction provides the potential for platform sharing between network and OSS and dove-tailed integration
  • New styles of service and event modelling for the adaptive packet-based, virtual/physical hybrid networks of the future
  • Repeatable, rather than customised, integration.  Catalogs (eg service catalogs, product catalogs, virtual network device catalogs) are the closest we have so far. Intent abstraction models follow this theme too, as does platform-thinking / APIs.
  • True real-time data collection and management (eg traffic management, billing, quality of service, security, etc) as opposed to near-real-time
  • Unstructured, flexible data sets rather than structured data models
  • Highly decentralised and/or distributed processing using commoditised hardware rather than the centralised (plus aggregators) model of today
  • A standardised, simplified integration mechanism between network and management on common virtualised platforms rather than proprietary interfaces connecting between different platforms
  • An open source core that allows anyone to develop plug-ins for, leading to long-tail innovation, whilst focusing the massive brainpower currently allocated to duplicated efforts (due to vendor fragmentation)
  • Cheaper, faster, simpler installations
  • Transparency of documentation to make it easier for integrators
  • Wide-spread training / learning programs
  • Capable of handling a touchpoint explosion as network virtualisation and Internet of Things (IoT) will introduce vast numbers of devices to manage
  • Machine learning and predictive analytics to help operators cope with the abovementioned touchpoint explosion

A number of these items point to a next-generation OSS that is more closely aligned to search-engine topologies and thinking than it is to legacy relational databases.

As a case in point, let me ask you this question. How is it that the search engine giants can identify results from the entire Internet (and even predict your text as you type in your search) in a faster time than it takes your OSS to query a single table of say 100,000 objects?

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