24 June 2016

The Telco Operating System and the Commoditization

Today Telecommunications infrastructures are going to face a major transformation: from networks of interconnected “closed” equipment (e.g., IT systems and nodes e.g., switches, routers, middle-boxes, etc.) to a “continuum” of virtual resources (e.g., virtual machines, containers) executing millions of intertwined software processes.

If it is true that this transformation will increase the levels of pervasivity, flexibility, programmability and robustness, it is also true that it will increase also the degree of complexity.
Human made control and management will not be able to cope such higher degree of complexity especially in highly dynamic environments, so my take is that Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) will be more and more adopted in Control, Management and Orchestration processes.

A sort of “Operating System” (OS) will integrate these Operations processes for Telecommunications infrastructures, being ONOS and X-OS initial expressions of this target. Interestingly, the characteristics of this OS, and its potential extension up to the terminals of the future (e.g., smart thing, robots, machines, wearable, AI interfaces), will reflect the strategic role and business of the Service Provider or Network Operator exploiting it. 

So, it’s a questions – as J. Doyle argued (see picture below) – to define and exploit those required "constraints to deconstrain" what is on top of it. Abstractions, Northbound (e.g., Intent, TOSCA, YANG, etc) Southbound (e.g., OpenFlow, NetConf, ..., P4, etc.) interfaces being notably examples of these constraints. And the kernel OS should be protocol-independent.

At the end of the day, we'll see - with this OS - any application/service (X-as-a-Service) will run on any hardware (possibly standard and low cost) of Telecommunications infrastructures (e.g., distributed Cloud-Edge-Fog computing resources interconnected by ultra-low latency link). Simple like that. This is Universality: any car running on any road across the world.

This is how Commoditization of Telecommunications will open a major techno-economic transformation of the Digital Society and Economy...today, only at the very beginning.

Let's join efforts to design and develop this A.I. Operating System with humans in the loop, it will be the nervous system of the future internet.