As software becomes increasingly important in the world of network operations, Open Source Software is also gaining more attention. But, network engineers are typically focused on, well, networks, not software. While network operators may want OSS tools, they don’t always get involved in its development.
As I outlined in my lightning talk at NANOG in June (video, slides), that seems unfortunate — it would be good to ensure that network operators are engaged in ensuring the tools they get are the ones they need. So, I’ve put together a survey to try to better understand the “friction points”: what works, or doesn’t work, for network operators in the realm of OSS.
I’d love to gather your input in this survey! Follow the link below and make your survey contribution. I’ll be summarizing the input and sharing the results, so that we can all get a better perspective on what’s driving network operators with respect to OSS.
Nearly everyone insists that culture, and not technology, is the big problem. Telco employees are not used to handling software and even less familiar with the working practices of a typical software firm. Their technical staff think Python is a non-venomous snake and still use acronyms that became unfashionable at the same time as permed hair. Their commercial models are misaligned. Their sales and marketing departments understand “aaS” as something you sit on.
Changing all this could prove extremely costly. Whether operators try to retrain existing members of staff or introduce new talent into the workforce, the process could also take years. And time is certainly not on their side. A tsunami of data traffic on telecom networks has not brought a surge in revenues with it. The Internet companies riding that wave are a growing threat. “There are some very software-centric companies out there and if we want to be competitive we need to come up with things much faster than in the past,” said Deutsche Telekom’s Seiser. If they cannot, telcos may pay a much heavier price than the cost of any transformation.
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This article has a thoughtful perspective on the question of business models and Open Source Software. But, I found it interesting in that it also explores the tension between the roles of “Developer” and “User”. No business model works if it isn’t about delivering value to Users or Customers; and yet he argues that open source is written by developers for developers.
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