Becoming the Microsoft of the OSS industry

On Tuesday we pondered, “Would an OSS duopoly be a good thing?

It cited two examples of operating systems amongst other famous duopolies:

  • Microsoft / Apple (PC operating systems)
  • Google / Apple (smartphone operating systems)

Yesterday we provided an example of why consolidation is so much more challenging for OSS companies than say for Coke or Pepsi.

But maybe an operating system model could represent a path to overcome many of the challenges faced by the OSS industry. What if there were a Linux for OSS?

  • One where the drivers for any number of device types is already handled and we don’t have to worry about south-bound integrations anymore (mostly). When new devices come onto the market, they need to have agents designed to interact with the common, well-understood agents on the operating system
  • One where the user interface is generally defined and can be built upon by any number of other applications
  • One where data storage and handling is already pre-defined and additional utilities can be added to make data even easier to interact with
  • One where much of underlying technical complexity is already abstracted and the higher value functionality can be built on top

It seems to me to be a great starting point for solving many of the items listed as awaiting exponential improvement is this OSS Call for Innovation manifesto.

Interestingly, I can’t foresee any of today’s biggest OSS players developing such an operating system without a significant mindset shift. They have the resources to become the Microsoft / Apple / Google of the OSS market, but appear to be quite closed-door in their thinking. Waiting for disruption from elsewhere.

Could ONAP become the platform / OS?

Let me relate this by example. TM Forum recently ran an event called DTA in Kuala Lumpur. It was an event for sharing ideas, conversations and letting the market know all about their products. All of the small to medium suppliers were happy to talk about their products, services and offerings. By contrast, I was ordered out of the rooms of one leading, but some might say struggling, vendor because I was only a walk-up. A walk-up representing a potential customer of them, but they didn’t even ask the question about how I might be of value to them (nor vice versa).

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2 thoughts on “Becoming the Microsoft of the OSS industry

  1. I believe if there’s a Linux or microsoft, it only provide OS-API to APPS, can’t anticipating there’s one UI can satisfy every CSP, and if a OSS-OS indeed existing, it should be duopolies of two, or at most three.
    if it’s mac style, it’s better to be huawei/erricson/nokia or cisco?
    if it’s microsoft style, this microsoft.ext should know telecom well, unfortunately it’s hard to search this kind of company out of huawei/e////nokia
    if it’s a linux, and we’re searching for a company like redhat/suse/centos, it maybe works like ONAP, but this linux should have a master like “Linus Benedict?Torvalds”, i didn’t see this guy in ONAP.

  2. Hi Ramon,
    Good points there.
    When discussing a common UI, I should clarify that I mean a common UI framework, not a common UI. As you say, every CSP wants a different user experience (just as every Windows-based application provides a different UX). What I’m referring to by a common framework is akin to where each Windows user expects an X in the top-right corner to represent “close program,” a menu ribbon of functions appears across the top of the page, etc. That makes it more intuitive for operators to use any applications within a Windows environment. By contrast, every OSS has a distinctly different feel, which makes them collectively less intuitive.

    Perhaps Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia, Cisco, etc will prove me wrong, but I don’t foresee any of them creating an OSS platform where third-parties are openly encouraged to build add-ins, where strength comes from that network-effect. It seems more likely to me that it will come from a disruptive new player, just as Linux disrupted the incumbent operating systems. Not necessarily from an individual like Linus Torvalds, but an open-platform where many developers / organisations contribute.

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