- Lack of long term thinking within telcos - there are often too many tactical requirements to be fulfilled and the long term strategy never gets going (this is like Governments who have a four year terms not being able to get 20 year projects over the line - they're too worried about getting the day to day things patched up and then getting re-elected)
- Senior executives in Telcos that truly don't appreciate the benefits of standardisation - I am not sure if this is because executives come from a non-technical background or some other reason.
Andrew_Larmour 0300000243 Tags:  parlay andrew_larmour parlayx parlayrest wac oneapi tmf larmour frameworx gsma 3 Comments 4,460 Views
Further to my last post, it now looks like the WAC is completely dead and buried.
One thing that is creating a lot of chatter at the moment though is TelcoML (Telco Markup Language) - there it a lot of discussions about it on the TeleManagement Forum (TMF) community site and while I don't intend to get in a big discussion about TelcoML, I do want to talk about Telco standards in general.
The Telco standards that seem to take hold are the ones with strong engineering background - I am thinking of networking standards like SS7, INAP, CAMEL, SigTRAN etc, but the Telco standards focussed on the IT domain (like Parlay, ParlayX, OneAPI, ParlayREST and perhaps TelcoML) seem to struggle to get real penetration - sure standards are good - they make it easier and cheaper for Telcos to integrate and introduce new software; they make it easier for ISVs to build software that can be deployed at any telco. So, why don't they stick?
Why do we see a progression of standards that are well designed, have collaboration of a core set of telcos around the world (I'm thinking the WAC here) yet nothing comes of it. It we look at Parlay for example, sure CORBA is hard, so I get why it didn't take off, but ParlayX with web services is easy - pretty much every IDE in the world can build a SOAP request from the WSDL for that web Service - why didn't it take off? I've spoken to telcos all around the world about ParlayX, but it's rare to find one that is truly committed to the standard - sure the RFP's say must have ParlayX, but then after they implement the software (Telecom Web Services Server in IBM's case) they either continue to offer their previous in house developed interfaces for those network services and don't use ParlayX or they just don't follow through with their plans to expose the services externally: why did we bother? ParlayX stagnated for many years with little real adoption from Telcos. Along comes GSMA with OneAPI with the mantra 'ParlayX web services are too complicated still, lets simplify them and also provide a REST based interface'. No new services, just the same ones as ParlayX, but simplified. Yes, I responded to a lot of Requests For Proposal (RFP) asking for OneAPI support, but I have not seen one telco that has actually exposed those OneAPI interfaces to 3rd party developers as they originally intended. So, now, OneAPI doesn;t really exist any more and we have ParlayREST as a replacement. Will that get any more take up? I don't think so.
The TMF Frameworx seem to have more adoption, but they are the exception to the rule.
I am not really sure why Telco standards efforts have such a tough time of it, but I suspect that it comes down to:
Andrew_Larmour 0300000243 Tags:  tcop larmour telecom tcp andrew telco tmf 2 Comments 4,426 Views
Guilty of not posting what I should have over the past few weeks. First a quickie - IBM's nominations in the TeleManagement Forum excellence awards for this year have dropped down to two, that is to say, IBM has made the finalist lists for two categories:
While it's a shame we didn't make the cut for the Solution Excellence award (I am not sure which solution was nominated) I am still proud that we've made the finalist cut for two categories. If you are a TMF member - please go and vote at http://www.tmforum.org/ExcellenceAwards2010/Finalists/8647/Home.html#1 (you choose who you want to vote for, you can probably guess who I voted for! )
I have been working on a post about our newly announced Industry Framework for the Media & Entertainment Industry - you should expect that post to come along soon! (oh and don't forget to vote in the TMF awards!)
Andrew_Larmour 0300000243 Tags:  bpm larmour andrew_larmour frameworx tmf businessagility telco telecom soa 3,274 Views
Why TMF Frameworx?
The TeleManagement Forum (TMF) have defined a set of four frameworks collectively known as Frameworx. The key frameworks that will deliver business value to the CSP are the Information Framework(SID) and the Process Framework (eTOM). Both of these can deliver increased business agility - which will reduce time to market and lower IT costs. In particular if a CSP is undertaking with the multiple major IT projects in the near term, TMF Frameworx alignment will ease the pain associated with those major projects.
Without a Services Oriented Architecture (SOA), such as many CSP's have currently, there is no common integration layer, no common way to perform format transformations with that multiple systems can communicate correctly. A typical illustration of this point to point integration might look like the Illustration to the right:
Each of the orange ovals represents a transformation of information so that the two systems can understand each other - each of which must be developed and maintained independently. These transformations will typically be built with a range of different technologies and method, thus increasing the IT costs of integrating, maintaining such transformations, not to mention maintaining competency within the IT organisation.
A basic SOA environment introduces the concept of an Enterprise Service Bus which provides a common way to integrate systems together and a common way of building transformation of information model used by multiple systems. The Illustration below shows this basic Services Oriented Architecture - note that we still have the same number of transformations to build and maintain, but now they can be built using a common method, tools and skills.
If we now introduce a standard information model such as the SID from the TeleManagement Forum, we can reduce the number of transformation that need to be built and maintained to one per system as shown in the Illustration below. Ensuring that all the traffic across the ESB is SID aligned means that as the CSP changes systems (such as CRM or Billing) the effort required to integrate the new system into the environment is dramatically reduced. That will enable the introduction of new systems faster than could otherwise been achieved. It will also reduce the ongoing IT maintenance costs.
As I'm sure you're aware, most end to end business processes need to orchestrate multiple systems. If we take the next step and insulate those end to end business processes from the functions that are specific to the various end point systems using a standard Process Framework such as eTOM, then business process can be independent of systems such as CRM, Billing, Provisioning etc. That means that if those systems change in the future (as many CSPs are looking to do) the end to end business processes will not need to change - in fact the process will not even be aware that the end system has changed.
When changing (say) the CRM system, you will need to remap the eTOM business services to the specific native services and rebuild a single integration and a single transformation to/from the standard data model (SID). This is a significant reduction in effort required to introduce new systems into the CSP's environment. Additionally, if the CSP decide to take a phased approach to the migration of the CRM systems (as opposed to a big bang) the eTOM aligned business processes can dynamically select which of the two CRM systems should be used for this particular process instance.
What that means for the CSP.
Putting in place a robust integration and process orchestration environment that is aligned to TMF Frameworx should be the CSP's first priority; this will not only allow the subsequent major projects integration and migration efforts to be minimised, it will also reduce the time to market for new processes and product that the CSP might offer into the market.
Telekom Slovenia is a perfect example of this. When the Slovenian government forced Mobitel (Slovenia) and Telekom Slovenia to merge, having the alignment with the SID and eTOM within Mobitel allowed the merged organisation to meet the governments deadlines for the specific target KPIs:
When a CSP is undertaking multiple concurrent major IT replacement projects, there are a number of recommendations that IBM would make based on past observations with other CSPs that have also undertaken significant and multiple system replacement projects:
I am in Dublin at the moment for TeleManagement World 2011 which has changed locations from Nice, France last year. it looks to be a very interesting conference. I've already done two days of training and now, we're beginning the sessions. the keynote session has the Irish Minister for Communications, Mr Rabitte who is talking about the challenges that CSPs face all the world around. He is also talking about an innovation programme that the Irish Government have started called 'Examplar' which is part of their NGN Trial network. i'll see if I can get some more info over the next few days...
Steven Shurrock, the new CEO at O2 Ireland who has been in the role for just six months is very bullish about the opportunities in Ireland for data services. After Steven, we saw a host of Keynote speakers who have been focused on a number of themes, but many common presenters included:
I have recorded a number of keynote speakers as video, but for the time being, those files are very large. Once I have had a chance to transcode them to a smaller size, I'll add them to the blog as well - while not particularly technical, they're very intesting for a Telecom perspective.
While IBM missed out on winning the TeleManagement Excellence awards this year (congratulations to those four competition winners (see the winners on the TMF web site) we do have a great stand with multiple demos (I haven't counted, but I think there are six demos) and a small meeting area. Check out the photos below:
TeleManagement World conference, 2010. Nice France.
Lui Aili, Board Director for China Mobile presented this morning at the TeleManagement World conference in Nice, France. Mr Lui spoke of China mobile's challenges. For them, Internet based competitors posed a real threat, despite the size of China Mobile (more than 528 million subscribers) they see companies like Google (with GTalk) and Skype, but also device manufacturers such as Apple and Nokia as providing on device applications and value added services on their own devices which reduces China Mobiles function down to a bit carrier. As Mr Lui put it, these companies "moved our cheese"
For China Mobile, to compete with these Internet based companies, they needed to radically reduce their costs - to do this, they started a project about six years ago to move to an all IP network from their existing legacy network. This architectural move reduced their Capex by a massive 68%. The reduction was through reduced administration and management costs (by re-organising their operational management system and spreading it across all of their IP networks)
Strategy for IP transformation
China Mobile's network services are predominantly occupied by low value services - straight 2G services. They undertook a detailed analysis to look at network utilisation and management tools to better manage their network and control the customer experience. For them, ALL IP is not the same as All-in-one IP. they are separating their IP customers into high and low value services with security barriers in place - they have a separate virtual network for high value services and for low value standard services. He did not state it directly, but I took it to mean that they have different Service Level Agreements (SLAs) associated with the high and low value services.
From a network administration perspective, they have implemented network management agents at as many points as possible - including every router to enable efficient and rapid fault discovery and correction.
For China Mobile, IP skill levels among their staff was a key success factor - Mr Lui spoke of it multiple times, including implementing comprehensive training schemes for their staff.
"IP Transformation has been a huge task... the job is fare from finished" Mr Lui said. Despite this, he also said that right now, almost all of their voice traffic is already carried over their IP infrastructure
In summary, Mr Lui made the following points: