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Next Generation (Human) of Telecoms



The key question is - how large will the shortfall in skilled employees be in the telecoms sector across the globe in 2020 and beyond?


We're going to need people across the organization that understand how to 

  1. Create and maintain programmable wide area networks (SDN)
  2. Deploy, orchestrate and maintain virtualized network functions side by side with existing physical network functions in the WAN (NFV)
  3. Orchestrate those programmable and virtualized networks to create end to end application aware/driven connectivity services across multiple domains and technologies (LSO)


Without those people, telecoms are just not going to be able to reorganize and deploy the types of automated, self-healing, secure and assured connectivity services upon which we are increasingly dependent.


One organization that is putting a dent in that shortfall is CSIR in South Africa. Over the last two weeks, CSIR hosted in their facilities near Pretoria 10 students and graduates, teaching them about SDN, NFV and LSO as part of a joint MEF-CSIR Hackathon event. Issa, Jeneva, Lanka, Lindokuhle, Mandisa, Mxolisi, Sekgoari, Sifiso, Themba and Yurisha from the Universities of LimpopoZululand and Kwa Zulu Natal not only followed a comprehensive curriculum put together by CSIR's Mduduzi Mudumbe and Sabelo Dlamini, but also did a practical project that will be contributed to the MEF and OpenDaylight. That project touches on LSO Presto, OpenDaylight Unmgr project and VPP


The Mareka Institute at CSIR is mandated by the South African government to assist South African telecoms transform their existing infrastructure and operations/business systems to take advantage of new technologies and standards like LSO, NFV and SDN. In that way, the telecoms will be able to evolve and meet the needs of the rapidly emerging applications of the next decade.


MEF collaborated with CSIR on this event because this effort is part of MEF's vision of helping its 130+ service provider community to navigate the adoption of digital transformation and the MEF 3.0 framework. 

Events like these also tie in closely with MEF's MEF Developer Community work as well as its latest professional certification, MEF Network Foundations (MEF-NF). 


By the way, students and graduates always look this happy after two weeks of intensively learning LSO, SDN and NFV.....


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From Months to Minutes


We hear that a lot now in our space. Automation not only reduces opex, but it also speeds up the delivery of new services. Get rid of manual requests between people and departments and companies, and replace them with machine to machine interfaces. Months to minutes to deliver a multi-operator connectivity service. It sounds so easy but it's hard, very hard. On at least three fronts.
The first front is organizational. Organizations are built not only of people, but structure and processes that run through the structure between people. Changing the flow of those processes for the purposes of automation by having them bypass those existing structures and people is not an easy task for management. Especially when they don't want to damage revenues from existing products and services, and when they have to do their best to keep and re-skill their employees rather than a series of mutually traumatic firing and hiring events.
The second front is commercial. Collaborating with competitors doesn't come easily to anyone. To get services automated means agreeing with your competition on what information you are going to share at the speed of software calls. That means possible, if accidental, exposure of potentially sensitive commercial information. Management is going to think very carefully before risking having their IT departments 'run riot' with new software directly connected to their competition. 
The third front is technological. It takes time to work out what is the minimum effort required to implement meaningful automation, especially when it requires involvement of technology and commercial partners. For example, implementing an API that is acceptable to both a  service provider buyer of wholesale services, and its partner selling those wholesale services is often far from a trivial task. 
Developing standards is essential for implementing software-driven automation between different organizations and even between parts of an organization. But we can see that it only helps with that  third technology front - and even there, standards are just part of the story.  
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We the People

The announcement of MEF 3.0 last week at the MEF17 event in Orlando was a great opportunity to look back, see what the MEF has achieved and to consider what we need to do to get MEF 3.0 adopted widely in the market.

It seems like aeons ago that Bob Metcalfe announced the launch of CE 2.0 on February 23 2012.

We’ve done a lot in the MEF in the 5 years since that industry milestone. For example, we bootstrapped the Service Operations Committee which went on to drive work on the standardization of operational aspects of Carrier Ethernet, like processes (MEF 50) and Ordering (MEF 57). These and related specs have in turn enabled the MEF to address operational aspects of delivering Carrier Ethernet services with its ground-breaking definitions work on Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO).

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