May 19, 2016 — There are a slew of new platforms and technologies on the horizon, whether it is software defined networks (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV) and heterogeneous networks (HetNet) or the Internet of Anything (IoX) and 5G, etc. They are all already in various states of development, from proofs of concepts to field trials, even some limited deployments. But in all cases, what is out there is a very primitive version of what will be seen when the final product is delivered.
There are also companies touting deliverable product within these ecosystems. However, so far all of these are build consist of proprietary company technology with only a few open elements. So, there is a mounting concern that these platforms and technologies will get jump started without a decent set of interoperability standards in each. In fact, that has been the case already with some companies offering working products.
Without standards, as history has so often proven, all we get is a mass of products, none of which work well, if at all, and there is nothing but a bunch of finger pointing in the end.
So what is happening in the standards game? To be fair there is progress. But it isn’t moving along as fast as some would like. However, there is some positive news from the Open Networking User Group (ONGU) on SDN. The ONGU, at their recent user conference unveiled four new initiatives in the hopes of filling existing SDN technology gaps and urging enterprises to adopt an open networking framework for their SDN deployments. They include:
• Open SD-WAN Exchange, which creates a common communications framework so one SD-WAN can speak to another and vice versa.
• Open Interoperable Control Plane, an overlay technology that makes it easier to use different vendor technologies together in the data center.
• Open Traffic Management Format, which adds a level of analytics to SDN by taking data from all related devices and providing insight into the inner workings of the network.
• Open Network State Format, which provides data about specific network devices and what state they’re currently in
Well, at least this is a step in the right direction. How well will this be received? It is too early to tell but let’s hope this get some traction.
Standards Needed for the Internet of Anything, too
In another ecosystem, the IoX, including smart cities, vehicle and networks, will definitely need to work out standards. To wit, a recent report by Machina Research, commissioned by InterDigital, cautioned that if some sort of standards are not in place before large scale smart cities are developed, there potential waste of money in the 100s of billions of dollars. Much of this will go to technology partners with, again, proprietary technologies.
Why this is significant is because smart city IoT deployments are a microcosm of the broader IoX market, meaning the problem of fragmentation and financial risk identified are not restricted solely to smart cities.
One of the problems here is the diversity of competing IoX technologies and platforms combined with the large number of standards development organizations. That means a lot of people have to come to the table to keep this from happening and money being squandered.
The fact is that whether it is SDN, NFV, IoX or whatever, because of the plethora of technologies and the ubiquity of standards bodies, unless all of stakeholders come together on this, it will be a long, and arduous climb to get even a percentage of the platforms working together. And those that do will be laden with tons of glue technologies that will create a patchwork of overhead-heavy interconnect.
This begs the question, is it better to get started with some technology, using what standards are in place or will be, and once the standards are completed, finish the job? Or should we wait for the standards to be completed? You will find arguments for and against both. But no matter how opportunistic the market is, in the wireless biz, standards are the base of the triangle. Without them, nothing is going to work well or efficiently.