|By Deborah Strickland||
|December 10, 2012 03:00 PM EST||
Is Like Having a Big Motor under the Hood; But Wooden Wheels Supporting the Car
When the first releases of LTE and WiMAX started to be presented to the general public, it was clear that both technologies held an unprecedented opportunity to provide service quality in a way that was only dreamed in previous access technologies and everybody seemed to follow that line of thinking making QoS (Quality of Service) a hot topic, I have addressed the advantages of this feature in previous blogs, and I even supported the fact that MNO can use it as an effective tool to create differentiation and brand loyalty, but there are many factors that slow down and hinder the full potential development of quality in 4G networks, ranging from regulation of Internet neutrality to the inexistence of applicable cross quality domain specifications to make quality a transparent feature between networks.
Impressed by the Looks, Disappointed by the Personality
The discussions on quality are not new, transport technologies have struggle to come up with a usable concept of quality and have presented several frameworks to implement it, but like in the case of IP transport have not been very popular. MNO have committed to the implementation of quality since the first traffic differentiation features of GSM and WCDMA and other 2G and 3G technologies, but this has never been a true differentiator for them, it has been more of an option for optimization totally left at the discretion of the network provider. But 4G came as an answer to the change of Internet usage habits, change in which users started to use their desktops less and their portable devices more and more, said change impacted deep MNO because users now started to use bandwidth heavy services outside the control of the network provider and when you have a complicated resource to manage, as the electromagnetic spectrum is, quality seemed like the way to go to try and regain some control on how network resources were being used, even some considered that it could be the answer to recover some of the loss profit that was going to the pockets of content providers. But when you look the situation in detail you’ll find a very difficult business case for quality, more when you consider that the app frenzy and the empowerment of devices have started to make the service to pour outside the network provider boundaries in several ways. Part of the philosophy of 4G is to reach several networks so the MNO could retain control of the user, but that created yet another problem; quality in a cross domain environment. Finally, to complicate things more, once you have some quality implementation on your network you began to realize that is not enough to secure the quality in a portion of the network but in the whole telecommunications infrastructure, so the E2E quality challenge comes into the picture, and with that, the conclusive thought that is really not about the network quality but the user experience quality you have to be good at in order to remain relevant in the business.
So You Bought it, Took it Home, Plugged it, Felt Scammed, Now You Take it Back to The Dealership
Well, not really, 4G technology standardization bodies have made their homework; strong frameworks have been proposed to develop the concept of quality, LTE for example made a cohesive architecture involving the LTE access to the EPC in order to support the EPS bearer which is finest granularity of quality in that technology. Plus both LTE and WiMAX have made noticeable efforts to develop consistent procedures to provide appropriate mapping towards legacy technologies, so previous releases can work seamlessly with the latest releases. Also, as the interest on quality grows the investigation becomes more involved and looking towards NGN and future generation of wireless cellular network technologies the panorama seems pretty interesting. Finally the current implementations of 4G networks already have a potent quality scheme to control traffic flows through the network.
Complexity Is Not Something You Can Sell Easily
So what’s so different about 4G networks that make quality a hard **** to swallow, for starters the access segment is planned to support several layers of cellular coverage formed by Picocells, Femtocells and relaying nodes, this set up is known as heterogeneous network, in order to handle the interference and control of resources in such configuration, the user’s device or UE must perform an active role providing key measurements back to the eNB, in other words the control signaling and overhead will be significant, if we consider some of the proposed frameworks to accomplish E2E quality, it is also expected that the UE device provides specific information in a periodic manner, or explained differently, more signaling, more resources for control and less for user traffic, without mentioning that current devices have built in connection managers that are totally outside the control of MNO, very close related to this last issue, there is a real threat that menaces a service that have had an ensured quality for as long as the cellular network existed, the voice in 4G network runs on IP and can be deployed in an application inside a device that prioritizes processes based on the OS SW programed in its processor. Going further, In the case of LTE, EPC is equipped to handle traffic coming from non 3GPP accesses, but other technologies like for example; current WiFi, are not ready to map quality parameters as expected.
The EPC has the functional entities to enforce and control the resources assigned for an application in terms of the EPS bearer, but there is a transport technology that support the communication of the functional entities in the EPC and towards the access and of course that carry the user traffic, an all IP network that has struggle for a long time to implement quality with no luck, the current frameworks like DiffServ or IntServ have proved to provide very modest results for stringent delay and jitter applications in the first case and several problems of scalability in the second case. If we look beyond the edge router of the EPC we’ll find the Internet which is the biggest IP network which has never needed the quality to be successful, there you’ll find the servers where applications reside, needless to say, network operators have no control whatsoever on the Internet.
Those Hard Issues To Solve Are The Ones That Matter The Most
I have just mentioned complexity as a separate challenge for quality, but next I’d like to list the challenges that I see as the main barriers to implement it as planned by the 4G technology releases:
- Internet Neutrality regulation is such a delicate subject that no matter how you put it, if you start to apply prioritization traffic engineering, sooner or later you’ll be thinking how to explain that you’re not handicapping the customer rights to access information. I have proposed and approach centered in the user, or as I called it now; user requested quality.
- E2E quality, from the user device to the application server, cannot be implemented or realized without a big CAPEX consideration, and so far churn seems the only way to justify expenditure on quality but it’s nearly a titanic endeavor to relate one to the other, additionally the radio propagation is “capricious” you cannot sell quality by telling the user that in some cases he can receive what he paid for but sometimes not.
- The device manufacturers have found a way to master the Radio Control layer of wireless accesses, current and not so current smartphones have a SW connection manager programmed and even remotely controlled by the manufacturer and majorly outside the reach of network providers, so whatever strategy MNO implement in the network it’s better to consider the device connection manager issue.
- Quality was so trendy that every standardization, investigation and regulation body has its own agenda to address the issue; 4G technology was conceived to be a congregator of different technologies under one big umbrella, so, separate efforts cannot be beneficial for this technology. Very few cross domain proposals exists, although one might think that being IP the common transport layer for everyone, things will be easier, but the current state of implementation shows otherwise. Worth mentioning the IETF proposal for an extensible IP signaling protocol suite, called NSIS.
- Paradoxically the user comes last when quality is on the table. I previously mentioned that is difficult to sell quality to final user, but is even more challenging when no one cares to make it easy for him, the regulation agencies of several countries have failed totally in this aspect, regulating the MNO to publish performance indicators using engineering units, tells nothing to the user; a better approach would be to put these indicators in time, expressing unavailability or periods outside the download speed accepted mean, or even better idea is to group performance measurements into quality indicators that aggregate these figures, presenting a more general behavior of the network or the service.
It Is Very Rewarding When You Find A Purpose For An Item You considered Unusable
Considering all these factors, I don’t see quality as a feasible feature in 4G networks… Not as the industry tries to display it at least. Even if the history says that you must start providing quality to the network, MNO must shift the focus and start to provide quality to the user, or what many call, Quality of Experience, contrary to what many think, QoE can be implemented parallel to that of the network, and can be independent of the underlying technology. The quality experience can benefit from the tools network technology can provide and undoubtedly once an event is detected a quality process must be put in action to improve the service the user experiences and this action relies in the network technology to accomplish it, but that is just the reactive part of the quality, the proactive part considers the continuous optimization of network parameters, the right schedule of preventive maintenances, the proper training of the customer service staff, the proper problem escalation procedures and why not the right agreements with partners and devices manufacturers, all these can make the difference everyone is looking from the quality. Now from the current technology point of view the task is for the regulators to make quality an easier measure to understand. Another point is business case; It’s clear that a wireless network operator cannot ensure the level of quality a user will receive always, but services or applications that can exploit the advance capabilities of the current 4G technology hasn’t been created yet (e.g Context aware applications), MNO must start to think in these opportunities as aggregated services to take advantage of the current network capabilities before other actors do it.
For more, follow me, @jomaguo
Plutora provides enterprise release management and test environment SaaS solutions to clients in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. Leading companies across a variety of industries, including financial services, telecommunications, retail, pharmaceutical and media, rely on Plutora's SaaS solutions to orchestrate releases and environments faster and with integrity. Products include Plutora Release Manager, Plutora Test Environment Manager and Plutora Deployment Manager.
May. 25, 2015 05:15 AM EDT Reads: 3,004
WSM International is launching a DevOps services division that offers assessment, consulting and implementation to large enterprises and organizations with complex infrastructures. This is the first independent services company to create a dedicated practice to help organizations looking to transition to the DevOps model. The concept of DevOps is to blend information technology (IT) software development with operations to optimize the computing infrastructure according to the specific needs of ...
May. 25, 2015 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,789
WSM International has launched a DevOps services division that offers assessment, consulting and implementation to large enterprises and organizations with complex infrastructures. The concept of DevOps is to blend information technology (IT) software development with operations to optimize the computing infrastructure according to the specific needs of the organization. According to a recent press release from Gartner, "By 2016, DevOps will evolve from a niche strategy employed by large cloud ...
May. 25, 2015 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,125
Disruptive macro trends in technology are impacting and dramatically changing the "art of the possible" relative to supply chain management practices through the innovative use of IoT, cloud, machine learning and Big Data to enable connected ecosystems of engagement. Enterprise informatics can now move beyond point solutions that merely monitor the past and implement integrated enterprise fabrics that enable end-to-end supply chain visibility to improve customer service delivery and optimize sup...
May. 25, 2015 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 6,000
Over the last few years the healthcare ecosystem has revolved around innovations in Electronic Health Record (HER) based systems. This evolution has helped us achieve much desired interoperability. Now the focus is shifting to other equally important aspects - scalability and performance. While applying cloud computing environments to the EHR systems, a special consideration needs to be given to the cloud enablement of Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA), i.e....
May. 25, 2015 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,093
Cloud is not a commodity. And no matter what you call it, computing doesn’t come out of the sky. It comes from physical hardware inside brick and mortar facilities connected by hundreds of miles of networking cable. And no two clouds are built the same way. SoftLayer gives you the highest performing cloud infrastructure available. One platform that takes data centers around the world that are full of the widest range of cloud computing options, and then integrates and automates everything. J...
May. 25, 2015 04:45 AM EDT Reads: 3,195
With the arrival of the Big Data revolution, a data professional is expected to master a broad spectrum of complex domains including data processing, mathematics, programming languages, machine learning techniques, and business knowledge. While this mastery is undoubtedly important, this narrow focus on tool usage has divorced many from the imagination required to solve real-world problems. As the demand for analysis increases, the data science community must transform from tool experts to "data...
May. 25, 2015 04:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,886
SYS-CON Media announced today that 9 out of 10 " most read" DevOps articles are published by @DevOpsSummit Blog. Launched in October 2014, @DevOpsSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dy...
May. 25, 2015 04:15 AM EDT Reads: 4,188
15th Cloud Expo, which took place Nov. 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, expanded the conference content of @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit to include two developer events. IBM held a Bluemix Developer Playground on November 5 and ElasticBox held a Hackathon on November 6. Both events took place on the expo floor. The Bluemix Developer Playground, for developers of all levels, highlighted the ease of use of Bluemix, its services and functionalit...
May. 25, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 6,360
From telemedicine to smart cars, digital homes and industrial monitoring, the explosive growth of IoT has created exciting new business opportunities for real time calls and messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ivelin Ivanov, CEO and Co-Founder of Telestax, shared some of the new revenue sources that IoT created for Restcomm – the open source telephony platform from Telestax. Ivelin Ivanov is a technology entrepreneur who founded Mobicents, an Open Source VoIP Platform, to help create, de...
May. 25, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 6,455
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading in...
May. 25, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,862
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to evolve the way the world does business; however, understanding how to apply it to your company can be a mystery. Most people struggle with understanding the potential business uses or tend to get caught up in the technology, resulting in solutions that fail to meet even minimum business goals. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO / President / Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., showed what is needed to leverage the IoT to transform your business. ...
May. 25, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 6,847
"Our premise is Docker is not enough. That's not a bad thing - we actually love Docker. At ActiveState all our products are based on open source technology and Docker is an up-and-coming piece of open source technology," explained Bart Copeland, President & CEO of ActiveState Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
May. 25, 2015 03:45 AM EDT Reads: 6,305
The truth is, today’s databases are anything but agile – they are effectively static repositories that are cumbersome to work with, difficult to change, and cannot keep pace with application demands. Performance suffers as a result, and it takes far longer than it should to deliver new features and capabilities needed to make your organization competitive. As your application and business needs change, data repositories and structures get outmoded rapidly, resulting in increased work for applica...
May. 25, 2015 03:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,939
Docker offers a new, lightweight approach to application portability. Applications are shipped using a common container format and managed with a high-level API. Their processes run within isolated namespaces that abstract the operating environment independently of the distribution, versions, network setup, and other details of this environment. This "containerization" has often been nicknamed "the new virtualization." But containers are more than lightweight virtual machines. Beyond their small...
May. 25, 2015 03:15 AM EDT Reads: 6,280
The 3rd International @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo – to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY – is now accepting Hackathon proposals. Hackathon sponsorship benefits include general brand exposure and increasing engagement with the developer ecosystem. At Cloud Expo 2014 Silicon Valley, IBM held the Bluemix Developer Playground on November 5 and ElasticBox held the DevOps Hackathon on November 6. Both events took place on the expo fl...
May. 25, 2015 03:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,498
Grow your business with enterprise wearable apps using SAP Platforms and Google Glass. SAP and Google just launched the SAP and Google Glass Challenge, an opportunity for you to innovate and develop the best Enterprise Wearable App using SAP Platforms and Google Glass and gain valuable market exposure. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian McPhail, Senior Director of Business Development, ISVs & Digital Commerce at SAP, outlined the timeline of the SAP Google Glass Challenge and the opportunity...
May. 25, 2015 03:00 AM EDT Reads: 5,077
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps,...
May. 25, 2015 02:45 AM EDT Reads: 6,802
A new definition of Big Data & the practical applications of the defined components & associated technical architecture models This presentation introduces a new definition of Big Data, along with the practical applications of the defined components and associated technical architecture models. In his session at Big Data Expo, Tony Shan will start with looking into the concept of Big Data and tracing back the first definition by Doug Laney, and then he will dive deep into the description of 3V...
May. 25, 2015 02:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,136
The move in recent years to cloud computing services and architectures has added significant pace to the application development and deployment environment. When enterprise IT can spin up large computing instances in just minutes, developers can also design and deploy in small time frames that were unimaginable a few years ago. The consequent move toward lean, agile, and fast development leads to the need for the development and operations sides to work very closely together. Thus, DevOps become...
May. 25, 2015 02:30 AM EDT Reads: 5,716