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Automation: Key to the ComOS

Automation: Key to the ComOS

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Published by: PipelinePublishing on Nov 16, 2011
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© 2011, All informaon contained herein is the sole property of Pipeline Publishing, LLC. Pipeline Publishing LLC reserves all rights and privileges regarding the use of this informaon. Anyunauthorized use, such as distribung, copying, modifying, or reprinng, is not permied. This document is not intended for reproducon or distribuon outside of 
.To obtain permission to reproduce or distribute this document contact
 for informaon about Reprint Services.
Automation: Key to theComOS
By Jesse CrydermanPhilosopher Karl Popper dened the differencebetween open and closed societies in terms of howmuch or how little bloodshed is required to overthrow their leaders. From an OSS/BSS perspective, we can’texamine how open standards enable interoperabilitywithout rst looking at the past.Rewind to the early ‘90s and you’ll remember it was adark time, where connectivity meant getting your wordprocessing program to recognize your printer. Back then, developers of such applications needed to writeseparate device drivers for a plethora of differentprinters. Worse, for consumers, the availability of drivers dictated what products they could use withwhich printers. In time, Microsoft incorporatedprinter support into Windows so that only one driverwas needed to handle all the different applicationsassociated with the printer. That driver was written by the manufacturer, not the software developer.Vendors of industrial automation products facedsimilar problems; developers of Human MachineInterface (HMI) applications had to write drivers foran array of programmable logic controllers (PLCs). Ahandful of these vendors formed the OLE for ProcessControl (OPC) Foundation to dene the open standardfor which it was named. With its OLE protocol,Microsoft laid a groundwork upon which OPC couldbuild. Just like printer manufacturers, automationproduct vendors began writing their own drivers.The result: application developers freed up time andresources previously devoted to writing drivers andallocated more of both into the product; and userswere afforded the exibility of being able to chooseapplications based on features instead of driveravailability.Open standards, as an enabler of automation andself-discovery, have evolved considerably since then; Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) standardshave simplied device installation and operation byminimizing the need to search, install and conguredrivers. So now, I can plug in a real mouse to bypass the touchpad on my laptop and hook up a full-sizedkeyboard so I can more accurately, and blissfully,mash buttons. I can even copy image les of my
Volume 8, Issue 5
 
© 2011, All informaon contained herein is the sole property of Pipeline Publishing, LLC. Pipeline Publishing LLC reserves all rights and privileges regarding the use of this informaon. Anyunauthorized use, such as distribung, copying, modifying, or reprinng, is not permied. This document is not intended for reproducon or distribuon outside of 
www.pipelinepub.com
.To obtain permission to reproduce or distribute this document contact
sales@pipelinepub.com
for informaon about Reprint Services.
very cute cat to a ash drive and plug that into my television to revel in her cuteness in HD. Importantstuff.Indeed, we’ve come a long way from the tedium of having to manually manage multiple drivers in ourPCs at home, so it would stand to reason that, outof the aggregate billions that CSPs spend on OSS/BSS solutions, said solutions should come with that same plug-and-play functionality. Certainly, themultitude of telecom standards should have thepotential to drive change in the OSS/BSS space in terms of application integration, right? For example, anumber of developers program CRM solutions using SQL, a language designed for relational databasemanagement systems (RDBMS). SQL, however, alsoserves as a prime example of how an attempt at openstandards failed due to self-interest.What is more compelling is the notion of anoverarching Communications Operating System(ComOS)upon which we could bundle a networksolution with billing and CRM products into oneintegrated package, much like a Microsoft Ofce Suitefor telecom. To take this concept a step further, theimplication that the purchaser of MS Ofce at anyCSP can also purchase an integrated ComOS suiteportends a shift in traditional engineering softwarefrom the back ofce to the IT department.
Caution: Service-Oriented Architecture Ahead
The key to technological and commercial evolutionis adaptation. The old model of integrating siloedapplications required programmers to writecomplicated, custom utilities—a tedious, timeconsuming endeavor—to read and decode databefore it can be shared with other applications, and that simply cannot keep up. On the ip-side, theemergence of service-oriented architecture (SOA) isnot so much revolution as it is evolution. The promiseof SOA lies in its ability to deliver interoperable,independent, modular and reusable software in the form of components or “services.” This affordsbusinesses the nimbleness they need to adaptquickly but, more importantly, it’s all made possibleby open standards.With that said, it is not enough to simply embrace the technology.More important to the full realization of  the benets of open standards and SOA is the needfor companies to embrace change on a cultural leveland to step away from the silo, in terms of both IT and thinking. Herein lies the rub; as any anthropologist will tell you, culture evolves at a snail’s pace.The elder Moltke gave us the military maxim, “Noplan survives contact with the enemy.” A real worldvariant translates this into the notion that any plan,idea or concept is only as good as the humanswho implement it. The New and Improved PartnerEcosystemThere is hope, though. Microsoft has come full circle
What is more compelling isthe notion of an overarchingCommunications OperatingSystem (ComOS).

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