My colleague Sundar Ramanathan drew my attention to the somewhat surprising merger of two well known industry standards bodies in a move that really could make a serious difference by providing a wider and more comprehensive approach that should move the sector forward. It’s not often that you hear such an encouraging story and I asked Sundar to tell us more about this with a blog post. Here it is below.
Regards andy
One of the key elements of change in technology and its use has been the increasing desire of the Industry and its users to get serious about the value created by open Standards. At the same time one of the trends has been towards Mobility, the capability to be connected for work and play with any type of device anywhere. The recent announcement on the collaboration between Telemanagement forum and IPsphere forum on creation of rapid services is a major boost to both activities.
The TM Forum is a significant force as an industry association with over 650 members around the globe representing all parts of the telecoms, cable, media and internet services industries. Its role has been to focus on transforming business processes, operations and systems for managing and monetizing on-line Information, Communications and Entertainment services. It has published the Architecture framework eTOM and also introduced New Generation Operations Systems and Software – NGOSS. The Business Process Framework eTOM (enhanced Telecom Operations Map) is an ongoing TM Forum initiative to provide a business process framework for use by service providers and others within the telecommunications industry. The eTOM Business Process Framework describes all the enterprise processes required by a service provider and analyzes them to different levels of detail according to their significance and priority for the business. NGOSS defines for Service Providers and their suppliers a comprehensive, integrated framework for developing, procuring and deploying operational and business support systems and software. NGOSS is provided as a set of documents that make up a toolkit of industry-agreed specifications and guidelines that cover key business and technical areas, and a defined methodology for use of the tools.

IPsphere Forum has had a somewhat different mission through obvious aligned around enabling the “Business of IP” by developing an open multi-stakeholder web-services framework for the rapid creation and automated deployment of IP based services. The membership is therefore slightly different from the TM Forum but again aligned comprising of service providers to data center network communication vendors.
I believe that the ‘fast forward’ movement of the Telecom industry is indication of the Mobile revolution and demonstrates the power of consumer, or perhaps inside the enterprise, the user. Mobility is becoming visible everywhere with ubiquitous IP connected devices, think about it and you realize the apparent revolution in consumer devices is not just a case of cheaper digital devices, its also based on a new generation of capabilities using the Internet and its standard IP protocol.
BUT neither do I believe we have seen the equivalent level of revolution in applications, especially at a global level to enable a whole new generation of business collaboration, or business to consumer interactions. We have a variety of applications that really are no more than taking the current IT applications and extending them for the benefit of employees, or enterprise to allow them to work anywhere. There are the beginnings of providing relief to finance folks on elimination of travel, consumers of banks and insurance able to access accounts and perform transactions and several consumers using for entertainment downloading music and video in real time, but this is only scratching the surface of what could be delivered on these devices using a common IP services environment.
We have yet to see the impact of adding to this the advent of Google browser Chrome beta along with Android and Nokia/Symbian all creating symbiotic relationships that can be exploited. Just think of the impact of adding location independent awareness to people using those ubiquitous devices and how it can drive a whole entire new set of services and capabilities, both around planning business activities in the field as well as consumer opportunities. In support of these complex systems there is the work of the Object Management Group another consortium is working on creating several common modeling standards just as Oasis is engaged in creating XML and web service Open standards.
During the early days of the Internet and browsing content era, we had seen all horizontal industries creating Business Exchanges for each segment without any collaboration. Then we saw the impact of true user driven standards based interactions and collaborations. Are we now seeing the Industry, or at least the sectors based around telecoms and media, waking up to supporting this? Is there a message here to other standards bodies representing other industry sectors? Will the strengthening of the key IP services act as an accelerator?
Personally I think the emergence of architecture and technology around Services (SOA), convergence of the industrial consortium in Telecom should be a reminder to other industries of the Global Internet enabled revolution happening, but are they really ready to do cross-industry wide Collaboration globally, yet?
– Sundar Ramanathan