24 January 2015

“Softwarization” will go “borderless”

It has been argued several times that “Softwarization” will be a game-changer for the Telecom and ICT domains.

Looking at the control variable of “Softwarization” I would even more argue that it will be a game-changer for the whole Economy and Society. Well, the technical ideas (decoupling software from hardware, virtualizing, programming APIs, etc) are not really new, but what is new today is the economic sustainability of “Softwarization”, which will be made possible by the current diffusion of ultra-broadband, the down-spiraling costs of chipset/hardware and the impressive advances in processing and storage.

A number of R&D Communities and Industries are converging on that, and cross-influencing each other. World is smaller and smaller, and innovation is propagating "virally". 

So, my take is that, in long term, “Softwarization” will go “borderless”: the border between the network and what is connected to the network will gradually disappear; more and more powerful Users’ terminals, devices, machines, smart things, robots, cobots…will become like meta-terminals or networks nodes, storing data locally and even executing network functionalities and service component. For example, “Softwarization” at the edge and Internet of Things will easily merge in a sort of “virtual continuum” of logical resources: a sort of pervasive “fabric” spanning from Users’ terminals, devices, machines, smart things, etc to the network nodes, up to the Cloud Computing.

It makes no more sense thinking in terms of “closed boxes”: future will be borderless.

Just imagine the multitude of services that could be provided (to Enterprises, residential Users, robots, machines and avatars included) by “borderless” and highly dynamic platforms of logical resources, fully decoupled from the underneath physical infrastructures. Exponential new technologies in digital money, mobile commerce, and big data will take benefit of that. This is a huge wave of innovation running over all Industries and bringing new development and costs reductions by automating (i.e., optimizing) “processes”. This is the main point "processes".

But there is a risk. If it is true that Telecom Operators and Manufacturers are showing great interest on SDN and NFV, at the same time, a wide deployment in “inertial scenarios” will take several years and it is unlikely it will initiated without strong motivations (that cannot be found just in increasing flexibility or programmability of current legacy infrastructures). In fact, there are OSS/BSS processes in place that a true SDN-NFV deployment would require changing dramatically. The risk is that “inertial scenarios” will be surpassed by “disruptive scenarios”, requiring less investments than an “inertial” evolution of legacy towards true SDN-NFV infrastructures. 

What is more likely to happen - in the short-medium term - (just my take) is that “Softwarization” will be exploited “at the edge” of current Telecom Infrastructure, with the challenge of orchestrating the logical layers of a variety of local networks distributed in different ownership domains, something that will happen already with the 5G, by 2020. In the meanwhile, other disruptive scenarios will take place with new roles and Player entering the arena.