Google has changed very little to its basic architecture building blocks over the years. Everything runs on top of the Google File System and Bigtable. Except for Google Instant which is reversing Map-Reduce usage, new services have been reusing their existing architecture.
Similar observations can be made for the rest of the main players. So why is it that Telecom operators have not invested in one architecture to launch multiple services? No idea.
One architecture for VAS
The concept is simple. Create one common architecture. This architecture should have multiple components:
- A high-available real-time data store – stores all application and user data
- A right-time data analytics service – allows collective intelligence and data mining
- An asset exposure layer – applications can re-use network assets and get isolated from internal complexities
- Presentation layer – facilitate mobile GUI and Web 2.0 development
- Application Engine – allows applications to run and focus on business logic instead of scaling and integration
- Continuous Deployment – instead of monthly big-bang deployments, incremental daily or weekly releases are possible, even hourly like some dotcoms.
- Unified Administration – one place to know what is happening both technically and business-wise with the applications.
- Long-Tail Business Link – all business and accounting transactions for customers, partners, providers, etc. are centralized.
Having such an architecture in place would allow telco innovations to be brought to market at least ten times faster. Application and service designers would have to focus on business logic and not on the rest. Administrators would have one platform to manage and not a puzzle of systems. Integrations would have to be done ones to a common integration layer.
Building such an architecture should be done in the dotcom style and not a telco RFQ. Only by doing iterative projects which bring together the components can you build an architecture that is really used and not a side project that starts to have its own life.
It even makes sense to open source the architecture. Telco’s business is not about building architectures hence having a common platform that was started by one would benefit the whole industry. It even would give a competitive advantage to the one that started the architecture for knowing it better than any competitor. Of course for this to happen, a telco has to recognize that their future major competitors are not the neighboring telco but a global dotcom…
Too many people in the telecom industry are still discussing which API is the best: Parlay, JAIN SLEE, Sip Servlets, GSMA OpenAPI, etc.
However even these APIs are too complex for some people. In this case you can use graphical drag-and-drop environments like for instance QuickFuseApps. You can also opt for flash modules that give you all the functionality you need. Ribbit has some nice ones.
Also on the phone side, drag-and-drop is coming on strong. Google´s App Inventor for Android is a good example.
What does this mean? More and more developers and end-users will be able to create Net Apps themselves. These Net Apps will quickly become complex applications that will often bridge the gap between mobile devices and server & cloud solutions. They will very likely also span every aspect of daily life, e.g. social networking, business, entertainment, etc.
What does this mean for an operator? All the effort that is now put into creating attractive services will no longer be useful. A one-hundred person marketing team can not launch more and better services than a one-million net app creators community. So instead of focusing on finding and developing the next killer app, operators should focus on two aspects:
- Making sure all the building blocks are in place for the net app creators community to be productive.
- Connecting end-users with the proceedings of the net app creators community. In other words: make sure people find the right net apps.
The stakes are high because this is a winner takes-it-all game. Speed, easy of use, direct community feedback will be key. What are you waiting for?
Google Voice has changed the mobile broadband industry in just three months. Who would have thought that Google would start offering free mobile broadband and even give away 10.000 free mobile phones and access points?
It all started with a small governmental change in the summer of 2011. After years of lobbying, the New American Foundation convinced the US government to open some of the previously military spectrum to free wireless communication. The New American Foundation chairman, Eric Schmidt, declared the act a step towards universal broadband access.
Two days before the new spectrum was opened on January 2012, Google surprised the world with the announcement that they would give 10.000 free Nexus Goomax phones if people installed a new sort of device at home called the GooPoint.
The Goopoint turned out to be a new generation of a femtocell network device that was on one side connected to fixed broadband and on the other side was a Goomax antenna.
Goomax, the next generation of wireless connectivity improves on the WiFi and WiMAX standards by allowing Google´s servers to remotely and dynamically control the network and the different Goopoints, a.k.a. Cloud-based network management.
The end result is that the US in two months time had an extra mobile network provider. However this network provider did not install any antennas. Neither did they pay expensive spectrum licenses. The new network was formed by home devices that allowed people within 5 kilometers to connect to mobile broadband for free. Goopoint owners that contributed fixed broadband capacity could earn points and exchange them afterwards for Android Apps among others.
Disclaimer: This is an invented story but could one day become reality.
In the telecom domain a scalable real-time architecture means paying a lot of money in hardware and licenses. You buy the Oracle RAC solution, build a Weblogic cluster, set-up a storage area network, etc.
In the dotcom world things look differently. Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo, Amazon, etc. have more active users then any telecom system. However they have build their architecture on top of open source solutions and average servers. Some even build their own software and sometimes open-sourced it.
Some of this software has very exotic names: Hadoop, Bigtable, Cassandra, Pig, Elephant-Bird, Dremel, Pregel, Dynamo, etc. Additionally design decisions are taken that would surprise every IT teacher: “do not normalize”, “do not expect immediate consistency”, “no transaction support”, “store in memory instead of on disk”, etc.
However if you can support 500 million users, 100 million daily hits, 130TB of logs, 20 billion tweet messages, 1 million servers, etc. then something you should be doing right.
The telecom software industry seems to have been isolated from the Internet during the last five years. With the shift to IP it is expected that more IT companies will be able to provide telecom solutions. Is this the solution? Not sure! Also IT companies are still playing catch-up in the cloud computing domain. Few IT solutions providers are demonstrating, they now think Map-Reduce instead of Middleware.
Google Voice is coming and most operators seem to be still more worried about churning subscribers. Google Latitude and Maps demonstrated that with new technology and innovation you can destroy the telecom monopoly on location-based services overnight…
If you are a telecom operator and you are worried, perhaps it is time we talk.