Waking up to a nightmare…

While all of humanity wakes up from nightmares, network operators quite often wake up to nightmares!

Network infrastructures grow organically much like an amoeba, in that, a very well designed network to start with, soon loses its shape owing to day-to-day work carried out as part of O&M, as well as, augmentation exercises.

  • Time is money, literally, in networks that continue to bill on the basis of usage. Every outage is met with a workaround that ensures that the network is up an running at the shortest possible time. For example, operators who try to reconcile their “logical inventories” with that of their “physical inventories” in the outside plant/copper/fiber pairs are well aware of the issues that they face in this space.
  • Market forces shape some of the infrastructure planning decisions. This sometime results in a well-analyzed decision to strap on some infrastructure around the existing on at that point in time. The best example of this is how some of the Value-added services have brought in newer adjunct systems.
  • Market (read Product Marketing) forces wreak havoc when it comes to products that end users are offered. The combination of products that are provided as broadband offerings, routing/connectivity commitments and other QoS commitments also cause a number of soft-settings in the system. An operator recently confided that they have the setting for over 5000 broadband products in their network and although 2 or 3 subscribers use all these services, at a minimum, only 15 services account for 99% of their subscriber base!
  •  Some of the operators have made strategic acquisitions of other operations in the same geography. Prior to the acquisition, the interconnection and other interfaces had to reflect the separation of the two businesses and this ends up being a mess that needs to be cleared up post acquisition – needless to say, demanding money to be spent.
  • Then, there is always the demands of regulatory agencies and Governmental interventions…

Thus, the network metamorphoses into a beast that one could not afford to feed. This leads to a demand for Network Transformation. Now starts a new problem…

Since all networks are unique and the problems are different with each network, there is no single standard way that could effectively represent the wisdom of mankind. It is a lot of sweat to analyze each situation and come up with what amongst the repertoire of methodologies we have, should be applied!

An interesting and intriguing experience – wonder if this is the same with other people who have indulged in network transformation exercises…

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