Archiv für den Monat: Dezember 2010

Product versus Service Business – Service Economies and the Internet

A paper by my SAP colleague Andreas F. promotes the research discipline “Service Science”. His (well-known) point is that modern economies turn into service economies by market forces. So what distinguishes “services” from “products” and what are explicit/implicit features of “service economies”. But this what “Service Science” is all about, right?

An interesting and valid observation especially exemplified in the telecom and software industry. Just watch the statement of NSN in an earlier blog post. It claims that “50% of NSNs business is operating networks” (network-as-a-service). The same applies to Ericsson, Huawei, Alcatel-Lucent, and others with only the actual ratio different.

The question to therefore not whether “servicefication” is a valid observation but rather a.) “What is the right strategy for the sector and b.) which role the Internet may hold (technology and business).

SAP Research has a long track record in investigating these questions under the umbrella-term “Internet-of-Services”. Essentially the idea is to extend the current Internet into a “Global Service Delivery Framework” that supports “service-based economies” that then turn into “web-based service economies”. This is a bold statement and no economy will turn fully web-based, definitively. But the broader concept is valid. Personally I favor the term “Internet Business Platform”, mostly since “Service Delivery Platform” is associated with a long-lasting concept in the telco domain.

For more about SAP Research “Internet-of-Services” check the IoS-Portal.

The Future Internet Week in Ghent – From the G16, over the Industry Group, FIRA and EFII, to EFIA

This year closes with the Future Internet Assembly as part of the Ghent Future Internet Week. One more the event gathered the majority of European research projects/community around several sessions, workshops, exhibitions, and and and.

Presence of *common suspects* was harnessed to ran an ad-hoc meeting between FIRA (Future Internet Research Alliance) and EFII (Eurpean Future Internet Initative) members. As chairman of FIRA I had the pleasure to present vision and ambition of FIRA and to engage into discussions with EFII members in order to evaluate a potential collaboration of both organizations. Bottom line, this is was and still is the objective of the two communities, despite the number of differences to be sorted out. This is good news.

The meeting reinforced a conviction that complexity of such an joint venture must not be underestimated and after a poorly managed first attempt only a sound framework with clearly defined rules, roles, competencies, objectives, etc will create trust for moving forward. This was proposed and it now remains to be seen if reasonable agreement can be reached that represents the very different stakeholders and related objectives.

At the end the European research community seeks for a “Future Internet” that is fundamentally different and enables Europe to take the lead in future Internet-based economies. Commonly agreed is that such an Future Internet will differ from the current one by consolidation and extensive collaboration across the different sectors, ICT and non-ICT, and from a technology, business, and policy perspective.

Such a vision implies not only technology transformation but mind sets as well. The Internet keeps proving to favor those that accept its openness and global nature instead of those trying to sustain protective approaches. Successful will be those ones, that endorse and assimilate the Internet as an opportunity to collaborate – isnt that what the Internet is all about?

The so-called G16, then the Industry Group, nowadays EFII, as well as FIRA are contemporary witnesses of this change and its pains. For the past two years the two organizations struggled with finding common ground for a multitude of reasons. Still there is a perspective, not least by the implementation of the FI-PPP, which was original motivation to the G16 and then EFII, as well as later FIRA. Lessons learned are that many players were finally able to put heads together and work for the greater good by letting “local” agendas aside (to some extent). If eventually successful? Spring 2011 will tell; as usual writing/submitting proposals is a though job – but the origin of a real challenge at best.

One must not ignore the human dimension in all of this. Sincere consideration of the above leads to a change that has to happen at individual level. FIRA and EFII have proven this. Today I asked to stand down as chairman of FIRA given that original perspectives to founding members were reasonably met. Commitment to these was always a high personal priority to me. This was confirmed and implementation is already on the way. If this exercise will be repeated, I do believe, it could eventually be the natal hour of EFIA, the European Future Internet Alliance.

IEEE Globecom 2010

IEEE GLOBAL COMMUNICATIONS CONFERENCE (IEEE GLOBECOM) is one of the flagship conferences of the IEEE Communications Society and high up on my annual conference must-attends.

This year, IEEE Globecom 2010, is held in Miami, Florida and lines-up seamlessly in the hall of fame of this conference series. With 2500 attendees on-site it sets a new record and as usual it features a very comprehensive program with a good number of high-profile speakers from business as well as academia.

Keynote by Yoshihiro Obata, CTO of eAccess Ltd in Japan
A very interesting talk, excellent presentation with a very good mix of industry/company background/insight and technological/research challenges. This is the style of talks you look for at IEEE Globecom.

Here is what Mr Obata had to tell:

- Traditionally, Telco services were controlled by operators (e.g. SMS). With IP services control moves towards devices/applications
- And terminal are no any longer provided by the operator, huge variety in devices, competition high (e.g. Apple vs Google)

- Smart-phones turn signaling (traffic) into a huge issue for operators. As control went from network to devices operators cant control / police users effectively. This essentially prevents M2M introduction

- Highest expenses are still with the backbone, eAccess flat rate offers were only possible since they own a backbone, especially in wireless networks is the backbone cost what matters; base stations are not relatively inexpensive

- Volume and characteristic of traffic by corporate users does not cause trouble, i.e. corporate users behave as they follow a certain (manageable) pattern (e.g. peak traffic).

- Mobile vs Fixed: The peak (busy hour) in mobile networks is broad (TMB: statistically stationary) versus traffic in fixed networks (ie DSL) shows very sharp/short peaks (instationary) -> TMB: This has consequences to admission control!

- Reasoning: mobile terminals/services are simpler to use, by potentially more singles and younger users, which are attached for longer periods to their terminals; In contrast, Internet services over fixed (cable, DSL, etc) access require a greater effort to start, in particular the terminal (PC, laptop, etc) and hence users start-use-shut.

- On traffic patterns: 300K (2-5%) users take 50% of the capacity for peer-to-peer traffic, still no issue for state-of-the-art technlogy, annoying though, but the network needs to be sized for full capacity anyways.

- On business in general, telcos need to adapt to change as meanwhile nearly 30% of the user spending goes to the terminal and this takes a major part of the overall budget

- A new service in Japan is “Pocket WiFi, WiFi allows terminals to concurrently access the network with one subscription. This gives meanwhile three options for mobile operators – hotspots, mirco cells, pocket wifi – still unclear which will predominate

Kevin Fall (Intel) WSN Forum
- Observation on WSNs – mostly worried with power consumption, use essentially the same network architecture as any other devices, people mostly use them for trivial scenarios (room temperature monitoring)

- Programming WSNs as essembles instead can be a basis for innovative scenarios

- Issues: disconnection, addressing (location/ID, address space)

- Some ideas/solutions: DTN (storage/caching), use URIs for addressing/naming anything

- Info-networking (content-centric or data-centric networking) that put data/information in the center of design, architecture, operations instead of hosts

Edward Knightly (Rice Uni) WSN Forum
Edward, how was giving a keynote at my BWA workshop in 2008, talked about “sensing” in general and took WSNs into the vehicular, smart grid, and eHealth domain. Nothing really new, some of the slides are indeed known for a while (eHealth). What was new though, is that he is promoting “Visible Light Communication” as a technology for vehicular communications.

H. Atarashi (NTT DOCOMO) 4G Operator Perspectives
- DOCOMO to deploy LTE comercially in Dec 2010, initially over legacy 3G infrastructure, terminals will support dual-mode

- 3 deployment scenarios, remote-radio-head, cabinet-type, indoor

- Remote radio head: base stations (eNodeB) are deployed somewhere and connect over fiber to the …

- ~1000BS by end of 2010, 5000 by end of 2011, 15000 by end of 2012 (40% POP coverage)

China Mobile
- 564m subscribers, ~500000 GSM base stations
- LTE deployment in 2011, several trials conducted with several manufacturers involved (terminal + network), LTE-TD meets all expectations

COMCAST IPv6 Forum
- CDNs are starting migration strategies this year (2011)
- Mind that this involves many aspects, way beyond the network, e.g. OS, Apps, OSS tools, CRM, Accounting, BSS in general
- To wait is a risk: v6 introduction takes time, Google needed 3 years
- And there will be more NAT to come in the meantime
- But 90% of v6-readiness can be achieved without turning v6 on!
- How to save cost? Put v6-readiness in your product strategy (TMB: that”s easy said ..) and mind that a customer may need to turn NAT on in order to access your content
- But isn”t v6 broken? No, that”s mostly an issue on your consumer-side and mind, ISP-NAT does not scale and add complexity/unwanted control
- The today challenge of v6 is not so much technology, it”s training of field personell, sales, support, etc
- Comcast is virtually v6 ready

Nokia IPv6 Forum
- Symbian is v6 ready since quite a while
- NAT versus v6, keep-alive versus idle but connected -> NAT drains your mobile”s battery
- Operators will not switch on Voice over LTE in the near future
- More details on NAT: keep-alive commonly in 40sec-5min intervals, can decrease your standby time from days to hours, many different/imcompatible tunneling, very different NATs (home, office, hotspots, ISP-NAT, etc) in terms of traversal mechanisms, frequently poor quality code, mind multi-level NAT (cascades)
- T-Mobile and Nokia run v6-trial in the USA, Nokia supports cell+wifi v6 in the N900 dual-stack.

Some random notes
- JND theory, “just noticable distortion”, widely used theory for picture quality evaluation (subjective)

- Wireless network usage is not uniform, one practical example shows 15% of the cells generate 50% of total traffic

- Most of the traffic in the future is expected to come from indoor environments

Comments on the Future Internet Public-Private Partnership (FI PPP)

Roughly two years of preparation, from idea, over program design, to call for proposals for the “Future Internet Public-Private Partnership”. The deadline was passed last Thursday, 2nd of October 2010. It remains to be seen whether the enormous investments eventually pay off.

I believe in the European definition of a “Holistic Future Internet”. It is a rather broad concept; “Networks of the Future”, “The Internet of Things”, “The Internet of Services”, “Security”, “Cloud Computing”, and “Media & Content”. But it is not the range of topics alone, what makes the difference is that these domains are not considered in isolation. Instead, this vision of “Future Internet” is a consolidation of these domains into one global Internet-scale platform. Objective is to turn the Internet into a an open eco-system with low entry barriers and support for innovation in infrastructure as well as application domains. And this far beyond the ICT sector.

This is very different when compared to US-style “Future Internet” research, that is primarily focused on Internet communication architectures (c.f. NETS, FIND, GENI). While the European vision may appeal more complete and more universal, the US definition is more concise and warrant for potentially streamlined progress towards the ultimate objective, the next Internet. It is hard to quantify in terms of investment (social and monetary captial), but one predominant obstacle in European Future Internet research is definitively the “prerogative of interpretation”.

The FI PPP is a proper tool with a reasonable vision and capable provisions. The ultimate challenge, however, is to get the idea of an “open platform” penetrating beyond technology in order to gain support by business strategists. The past has shown that technology alone does not suffice: 25,583 IEEE papers on QoS versus XXX deployments?.

In any case, FI PPP preparations already achieved one significant result, namely the ICT sector entering a (painful) process of collaboration towards this idea of an open Internet-scale eco-system. This process is still at the very beginning and who knows if a beneficial continuation will result. Yet an ambitious platform is there and enough evidence for significant economic potential should be a good motivation.

At the end, “gain is frequently related to risks taken” and Europe is commonly perceived being too conservative, especially when compared to the US. The FI PPPs 300M€ investment prove otherwise.