OSS Brainpower

The trouble with the future is that it usually arrives before we’re ready for it.”

It strikes me that there are a lot of network experts in the world but there aren’t very many OSS experts, relatively. As such, OSS is a relatively more immature market in terms of the brainpower that has been dedicated to it over the years.

Network virtualisation (eg SDN / NFV) represent an interesting opportunity for network vendors and network engineers. Network virtualisation is premised upon the assumption that it will deliver on the technical outputs of today but faster and cheaper. By corollary, this means easier and less specialised (ie more commoditisable) once we get through this initial spike of innovation in the next few years. This seems true for vendors and engineers.

But the flexibility and transportability of virtualised networks equates to a more challenging task for the management of these resources (ie at the OSS layer). If the network can innovate at the speed of software, then the OSS must too.

With many vendors committing to SDN, NFV, etc it would seem that there will be many opportunities for network engineers performing network transformation (to virtualised networks) over the next few years. But over the longer term these technologies conspire against the manual engineering (design and build) of networks so network engineering looks destined to commoditisation.

The challenge is for the network, software and OSS experts to build the management tools that provide the service and network automations that can drive these virtualised networks. Perhaps now is the time for network engineers and programmers to utilise but extend their skill-sets into OSS so that they can help to design, build and configure this next generation of tools?

Innovation within the OSS tools of a virtualised network seem to have a longer shelf-life than network engineering. Or is it just this OSS-biased hat I’m wearing?

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