Dr. Pethuru Raj has been working as a TOGAF-certified enterprise architecture (EA) consultant in Wipro Technologies, Bangalore. On the educational front, armed with the competitive UGC research fellowship, he could proceed with his research activities and was awarded the prestigious PhD degree by Anna University, Chennai, India. He then could acquire the meritorious CSIR fellowship to work as a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Computer Science and Automation (CSA), Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. Thereafter, he was granted a couple of international research fellowships (JSPS and JST) to work as a research scientist for 3 years in two leading Japanese universities. Dr. Raj also had a fruitful stint as a lead architect in the corporate research (CR) division of Robert Bosch, India, for 1.5 years.
Dr. Raj has more than 12 years of IT industry experience. Primarily, he has been a technical architect and currently he is providing technology advisory services for worldwide business behemoths on the transformation capabilities of enterprise architecture (EA) in synchronization with some of the emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) / Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) / Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Integration, Big Data, Cloud and Service Computing paradigms, Real-time Analytics of Big data using Cloud-based NoSQL databases, Hadoop framework, etc. and Mobility. He has made use of the opportunities that came on his way to focus on a few business domains, including telecommunication, retail, government, energy, and health care.
Dr. Raj has contributed book chapters for a number of technology books that were edited by internationally acclaimed professors and published by leading publishing houses. Currently he is writing a comprehensive book with the title "The Internet of Things (IoT) Technologies for the Envisioned Smarter Planet" for a world-leading book house. The CRC Press, USA has just released his book on "Cloud Enterprise Architecture" and you can find the book details in the page http://www.peterindia.net/peterbook.html
Envisioning Converged Service Delivery Platforms (SDP 2.0) - Part I Published: February 27, 2014 • Service Technology Magazine Issue LXXXI PDF
The days of creating only pre-planned and programmed information and transaction services are to end soon and in the near future, software services are becoming composite, knowledge-driven, context-aware, and people-centric. This, without an iota of doubt, represents a technology-driven paradigm shift in service creation, discovery, usage and leverage for bigger things. Service usability, utility, and ubiquity are bound to change towards betterment in the days to unfold. All these are seeing a neat and nice reality due to scores of delectable and decisive advancements in producing highly robust and multifaceted service platforms, design patterns, best practices, synchronized processes, and versatile products. The direct results out of these significant improvisations are real-time, on-demand, self-, surroundings and situation-aware physical services.
There is an insistence on continuous innovations on service science, engineering, management and governance aspects to solidly empower every aspect of the end-to-end service lifecycle as indicated in the figure 1. There are integrated development environments (IDEs), enterprise service bus (ESB) for service integration, business process manager (BPM) for service composition and process automation, service component architecture(SCA)-compliant containers for diverse and distributed application integration, data middleware, and a host of distinct adaptors and connectors for business integration. But delivering right services to right people via compatible media and devices is the key requirement for service environments.
SDP, being a prominent module in service computing, is the well-articulated and attuned environment to ensure effective and efficient service delivery. The convergence concept in the ICT (Information &Communication Technology) space is instrumental in rolling out a series of noteworthy consolidations & transformations, integration & composition standards, matured technologies, etc. These perpetual developments invariably provide enough confidence and competencies to visualize converged SDPs, the next-generation delivery platforms. The objective of this paper is to expose and express the specific capabilities of converged SDP - a modern & mainstream module for all types of service environments.
The converged SDP is expected to improve the service & resource utilization and the delivery efficiencies - a significant improvement leveraging the standards-compliant and synchronized SDPs. In a nutshell, converged SDPs are emerging as the integrated platform for simplifying & streamlining the service delivery aspect to global users with all the quality of service (QoS) attributes fully embedded and ensured.
Figure 1 – The End-to-End Life Cycle of Service Engineering
1. A Brief on Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)
Industry leaders are optimistic about SOA in realizing adaptive, real-time, and agile enterprises. Services have emerged as the fundamental construct / building-block / abstraction / encapsulation unit for rapidly implementing, assembling, and sustaining enterprise-scale business systems in an uncluttered manner. With the availability & maturity of relevant implementation technologies, service-based software engineering is gaining momentum. Entrepreneurs, executives and engineers have clearly understood the power of SOA, the popular architectural pattern, principle and paradigm emanating out of service orientation (SO) concepts. The service science enables companies to be competitive in their business offerings, outputs and operations. Open and industry-strength SOA standards are being formulated, discussed thoroughly, and adopted by standards consortiums and agencies in order to enable SOA to percolate further down. Business infrastructure software solution providers are implementing these standards optimally and in a novelty-packed fashion to outwit their competitors. The service knowledge is being increasingly used across the spectrum and the service science is steadily penetrating into every tangible domain and discipline these days. In today's cost-conscious environment, the need for enhanced and real-time visibility into service interactions and transactions of connected and contracted services to make sure that they are performing at the highest level of efficiency, accuracy, and reliability becomes increasingly paramount.
SOA, being the first and foremost business-driven technology, promises for a closer and tighter alignment between business and IT as executives and managers are struggling and stretching consistently to find implementable and intelligent ways and means to do more with less. Significantly service-orientation is process-centric and this helps business and process consultants to revisit, refine and make resilient and robust business processes to achieve process excellence. Business process innovation (BPI) through effective process modelling, enhanced visibility, effective consolidation, governance, and integration has been a stable and spectacular contribution towards taking SOA to greater heights. That is, we are all set to have elastic, lean, and integrated processes that in turn would lead to integrated and intelligent systems. Further on, the task of creation of composite services is getting simplified with open standards and corresponding techniques. In other words, SOA facilitates building and manipulation of composite data, views, and services that in turn lead to business-centric processes and applications, which considerably ease decomposition, substitution, extensibility, separation of concerns, etc. It is no exaggeration that the origin and the growth story of SOA are incredibly and inspiringly phenomenal.
Finally SOA has the wherewithal to lease unbelievably enormous amount of assistance and assurance for cloud and ultimately to the promised knowledge era. The service revelation and revolution is catching up fast and as a striking consequence, the new subject of service science is spreading its wings wider and deeper. Service engineering is another intriguing discipline going through a meteoric rise among students and scholars. Precisely speaking, service-orientation has brought in a dazzling array of innovations and improvisations in forming and formulating nimbler business, development, delivery, consumption and pricing models. Best practices, design metrics, key guidelines, proven methodologies, and extensible processes are being brought out very frequently. Software as a service (SaaS), the hotly discussed and debated deployment and delivery model, rekindles a sense of hope and buoyancy among industry veterans and newcomers alike.
2. The Relevance of Service Delivery Platforms (SDPs)
Simpler Service Interaction - With the increasing number of choices, customers expect more cost effective offerings. Customer centricity has become the uncompromising norm these days and hence there are new buzzwords such as customer loyalty, intimacy and delight doing rounds in the IT circle. Customers' preferences need to be understood precisely in order to artfully design and build basic services. This infuses the need for an innovation environment to be successful in a knowledge-driven competitive market. Then right services are being identified and subjected to the aggregation process. The services being aggregated are from distributed suppliers, retailers, partners, and others. This clustering is to roll out premium and people-centric products and services quickly and cost effectively to meet ever-changing customers' needs and preferences. In short, customer engagement and management are very critical to succeed in our pursuits.
Unified View & Access - For any kind of service organizations (small, medium or large), a standardized service delivery platform (SDP) has become the core and central module for insightful service delivery and management. High-quality services could be quickly defined, assembled and deployed using the unique capabilities of the hot service paradigm. There is a strong tool support for service engineering and delivery, which is getting accentuated and accelerated with the emergence of scores of standards-compliant service modelling, mining, orchestration, execution, and delivery platforms. The service ecosystem consistently breeds delectable and decisive innovations and improvisations thereby business houses are able to attract new customers and retain their existing customers quiet convincingly.
Service Authentication, Authorization - Aggregation - Newer avenues are being explored in order to enhance the revenue as there are consistent and conscious efforts underway to move from the product to the service space with all ease. The business agility, autonomy and affordability are the top three advantages with the overwhelming embarkation on the transformative, disruptive and augmentative service discipline. That services are highly accessible, consumable, amenable and adept are doing a lot of good things for growing enterprises these days in proactively visualizing and understanding peoples' pulses and preferences in order to quickly build and deliver original services to users.
Breeds Innovation - Another noteworthy factor is that Internet Protocol (IP) has become the ubiquitous protocol for communication. Ad hoc networks via mesh networking could be temporarily created for emergent functionalities and disbanded once the purpose is fully over. The convergence of data, voice, and video over the IP network is another remarkable point. The communication (wireless as well as wired) service providers, media companies, application service providers (ASPs), security and storage vendors, cloud service providers (CSPs), and high-tech industries are seemingly the first in using multi-faceted and multichannel SDPs to be ahead of their competitors. In a nutshell, SDP represents the recognition and renaissance in the service world. SDPs have definitely emerged as the strategic element for the ensuing service era. SDPs are bound to play a very distinctive and disruptive role in introducing novel solutions and services quicker in the market and shaping up the service industry. Any competitive SDP directly and indirectly impacts on the aspects such as the return on investment (RoI) and total cost of ownership (TCO) of service-centric applications.
Next-Generation Platforms - An SDP is a composite platform in the sense that there are several modules inside collaborating and contributing for the projected success. Integration backbone, process manager, aggregation engine, governance tool, event processor, access, identity, and infrastructure modules, a growing set of common services, etc. clearly capture and enhance the market share and mindshare too. The unique benefits of such an open software solution are that it creates a dynamic developers and users community. This open-ended community leads to huge public subscription, consumption and creation of newer services. The well-known examples are Apple and Android application stores. With an effective SDP, operators have the opportunity and wherewithal to reduce service creation costs, accelerate the development cycle for novel mobile applications, increase the variety, richness, and reach of applications, promote service reuse, and reduce their proportionate business risks within their total application portfolio. If an SDP is to continue to help service organizations to meet their tactic as well as strategic needs, such platform solutions ought to adapt to the changes in the technologies, emerging business realities, and consumers' expectations. Thus convergence is an important ingredient in realizing next-generation SDPs that are capable of meeting various needs of diverse domains and disciplines.
For the Service Era - The service paradigm has made a huge impact on ICT resources (software as well as hardware) and hence we often hear and read about Service-Driven Infrastructures (SOIs) and Service-Driven Enterprises (SOEs). Resource optimization, collaboration, sharing and utilization get a new lease of life and gain immense momentum with the smooth stability of service orientation concepts, technologies, and methodologies. The service orientation principles guarantee the much-wanted features and functionalities of the futuristic IT. Being technology-agnostic, services can be deployed, executed, and maintained on any standards-compliant container. These remarkable characteristics have clearly elevated the value and verve of SOA in effortlessly assimilating newer concepts, modernizing languishing and sagging applications, integrating disparate and distributed systems, realizing exciting and elegant composites and building pragmatic service-oriented systems. The near as well as the long-term implications are that the complicated, closed, and costly business IT is definitely destined for a major overhaul and turnaround into affordable, adaptive, and agile IT.
The SDP for the SaaS World - Giving users the applications and services they need is very critical to ensure success in almost every modern business. That is, ubiquitous service access (USA) is the latest buzzword. But the inefficiencies resulting from globalization, server management, and changes in the business, consumer and technology ecosystems can raise costs and frustrate users. Precisely speaking, today's business reality demands that the underlying IT infrastructures have to adequately be adaptive. With an increasing array of common as well as specific services getting accumulated in distributed and decentralised service environments, the need for converged SDPs is being felt across in strengthening the imminent service era.
3. The Importance of Cloud-based SDPs
Cloud computing has been making waves and buzzes in the business-enabling IT arena and its impacts on both business and IT are definitely multifaceted and mesmerizing. Conceptually, the cloud style has ignited scores of original business, consumption and pricing models. On the infrastructural side, clouds have emerged as the elastic infrastructure for optimally hosting, managing, and delivering next-generation services and applications. In a way, clouds are being positioned as the consolidated, virtualised, automated, shared, and quality of service (QoS)-compliant infrastructures. Having understood its strategically sound business and technical benefits, global enterprises are very much forthcoming in embracing this pioneering IT paradigm. Following the footsteps of enterprise IT, embedded IT (the device space) too jumps into the cloud bandwagon very positively and progressively. There are several transnational and transformational initiatives for producing competent and open architectures and frameworks that facilitate seamless connectivity and service-level integration between infinitesimal embedded devices and cloud. Every worthwhile domain is contemplating and completing the cloud modernization and migration enthusiastically.
Market onlookers are very categorical in their forecast that the ingenious cloud idea is to be massively adopted across the globe and adapted accordingly by IT services and solutions providers. The cloud model has opened up fresh possibilities for the scores of unresolved problems and limitations of current IT and brings forth innumerable opportunities to sustain the IT dynamism and momentum. Cloud is being recognized as the most powerful, potential and promising technology for future IT. Along with the enterprise and the embedded IT, the cloud IT is to support the IT evolution and revolution continuously and consistently for the years to unfold. In a nutshell, with the grand arrival and overwhelming reception of the cloud paradigm, philosophies and principles, the stagnant, expensive, costly and closed IT is getting smoothly and seamlessly transitioned into elastic, green, clean and catalytic IT. The brewing cloud idea has demonstrably brought in tectonic and tremendous shifts in the way IT is being approached, applied, and articulated.
Cloud Infrastructures - With enterprise IT infrastructures (servers, storages, and network solutions) are being made ready for the future IT challenges extensively leveraging cloud technologies (consolidation, virtualization, and automation), all kinds of web, consumer, and enterprise applications and services are being accurately and adequately remedied and moved to clouds. Next in line for the goal of cloud-enablement are nonetheless the IT platforms (development, deployment, management, integration, aggregation, analytics, dissemination, delivery etc.). As explained elsewhere, the SDP is the comprehensive and converged platform for next-generation service delivery. That is, SDPs are being taken to and deployed in cloud infrastructures to be globally accessed and used to craft and deliver extended cloud services to worldwide consumers with all the requirement service qualities embedded.
Also cloud-based SDP is for integrating diverse cloud services spread across geographically distributed cloud servers. With the surging popularity for Cloud Brokerage Services (CBS), the need for new-generation SDP is steadily growing. The next-generation SDP will act as a viable and valuable broker, integrator, composer, orchestrator, mediator, aggregator, etc. All kinds of enrichment and empowerment tasks are being silently and successfully done by the SDP. With the concepts of federated clouds and the Intercloud are picking up fast, services that are hosted and maintained in different, distributed and decentralised cloud-based platforms, corporate networks, web application servers, private and personal clouds, etc. are also getting linked up in order to produce smart and sophisticated cloud services. Thus for the ensuing cloud era, the relevance of SDPs is really great. The ultimate goal of cloud-based service delivery is to rely on a variety of thin and trendy clients (smart phones, tablets, TVs, web appliances, car multimedia, infotainment and home integration devices, etc.) that seamlessly connect with and access remote networked storage, compute, content, and application resources.
4. The Prominent Application Domains for SDPs
Today every worthwhile domain is jumping into the service bandwagon in order to gain all sorts of tactical as well as strategic rewards and returns of service orientation and hence a delivery platform is inevitable. In this section, we are to see the penetration of the hot SDP concept into distinct domains.
1. Communication Services Platform - SDPs are for bridging the gap between IT and communications networks to streamline new-services development, deployment and delivery, enabling providers to respond to market needs in less time and at lower cost. By combining the technologies that deliver services to end-users, SDPs facilitate communication between telecommunication business, infrastructure and support applications that span heterogeneous computing platforms and interface with physical network elements. An effective SDP must handle high-volume traffic loads with carrier-grade reliability and support a dynamic mix of service offerings to growing subscriber base. Telecommunication services are extremely diversified and sophisticated with a host of wireline as well as wireless communication technologies emerging and being embraced overwhelmingly by network service providers. SDPs, being the central module in the fast-growing communication space, need to include powerful quality assurance and production performance-monitoring tools for quick rollout of high quality services, fulfilment of partner SLAs, and problem pre-emption and rapid resolution of any incumbent issues.
A communication SDP provides the complete ecosystem for the rapid deployment, provisioning, execution, management and billing of value-added services. The SDP supports the delivery of voice and data services and content in a way that is both network and device-independent. The SDP aggregates different network capabilities and services as well as different sources of content and allows application developers to access them in a uniform and standardized way.
The multitudinous ways in which consumers are seeking to combine voice, video, and data elements; self-publish content; and create entirely new social networks continue to redefine requirements for residential service delivery, with video at the front and center. A complex web of collaborative business services is also emerging for mission-critical functions. Having the right service delivery model is of critical importance to creating new levels of scalability, efficiency, and flexibility within a provider's network to profitably deliver these new services and enable a smooth transition as cloud-based services. This transition will require a re-engineering of service provider networks in new ways that increase service agility and provide operators with clear competitive advantages.
SDP makes it easier to build novel and richly converged applications and services lavishly using network assets and partnerships with the developer and content communities. This assists in building more personalized services, improving customer satisfaction and loyalty by engaging users and delivering a broad range of high-margin value added services that fully leverage existing investments. On summary, communications SDP is to enable network operators, service providers, enterprises, and third-party developers to harness and monetize the power of the pervasive Web, social networking (Web 2.0) sites, telecommunication and IT infrastructures. There will be converged web-telecom services for IP multimedia systems (IMS), long term evolution (LTE) systems, next-generation networks (NGN) etc. This trend clearly mandates for a converged, compact and competent SDP.
2. Web 2.0, SaaS & Enterprise Services Platform - Newer types of services are fast-emerging. The service catalogue and capacity in any growing enterprise is expanding with industry-specific, technology-inspired, process, utility, infrastructure, and functional services. Here is the macro-level architecture for new-generation service delivery platform (SDP) in figure 2. With the stability of Web 2.0 concepts, social computing and networking services have erupted strongly. With the emergence of clouds, applications and services are being presented as software as a service (SaaS) and subscribed and consumed by worldwide users from new-generation cloud servers. Service organizations are too optimistic about this service paradigm and put a host of services for their consumers, partners, retailers, distributors, employees, perspective customers. National as well as state governments are steadily moving to embrace the indomitable service paradigm to supply an assortment of citizen-specific services as a part of e-governance initiative. As business houses, service organizations, educational institutions, governments, telecom service providers, smart phone service vendors, web service developers, etc. are rolling out services for their users, the relevance of converged SDPs grows incessantly.
Figure 2 – The Reference Architecture for Service Delivery Platform
3. Entertainment, Edutainment and Infotainment Services Platform - With a number of slim and sleek, handy and trendy, personal and professional gadgets and gizmos is fast-growing, service access has become everywhere every time. Devices come in different forms and formats: fixed, portable, nomadic and mobile. Ambient learning is made possible with technological advancements. Similarly ubiquitous information access (UIA) is nearing the reality. The entertainment space is too changing for the betterment. All these clearly mandate for a converged SDP in order to simplify and streamline service delivery to enhance customer ecstasy.
4. Smart Environment Services Platform - It is forecasted that there will be billions of connected electronic and embedded devices globally in 2015. On the other side, Web 2.0, SaaS, private cloud, and enterprise applications and services are seeing a lot of redemption and realization. With the soaring cloud momentum, increasingly business and IT services are being posted in clouds. And the remarkable maturity of sensing & actuation, ad hoc networking & connectivity (machine-to-machine (M2M) communication) and ambient communication technologies, a wider variety of everyday devices, appliances, utensils and instruments, consumer electronics, infotainment systems, slim and sleek gadgets and gizmos, handhelds, portables, wearables, implantables, etc. are getting directly or indirectly hooked with one another as well as to the distant Web and the Cloud. This extreme and deeper connectivity is bound to inspire a whole set of new services to the total humanity.
Physical places are being stuffed, saturated and sandwiched with scores of sensors (cameras), actuators, wireless gateways, proxies, displays, etc. to make them digital. Not only digital electronics, but also ordinary, common, casual and everyday objects, materials, items, things, stuffs, articles, and artifacts are being transformed and empowered to be smart in their dealings and decisions. Instrumentation and interconnectivity of devices and spontaneous integration with distributed IT services and applications sets the tone and lead for smart environments. The prominent and dominant examples include smart homes, hospitals, hotels, etc. In short, there is a close and tighter association between physical (real) and cyber / virtual worlds. Device services are the latest entrant into the services world. There are myriad corporates exclusively and deeply focussing on the leverage the SOA aspects and approaches for developing and sustaining a bevy of device services. Converged SDPs are very much needed for fast-emerging device spaces. In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) services are on the resounding growth. Similarly smart home services are on the record growth. Smart phone users are subscribing valuable and venerable services from the Web and the cloud. Similarly there are smart environments for hospitals, manufacturing floors, entertainment stadiums, railway stations, even nations' borders and boundaries, nuclear installations, oil facilities, aircraft hankers, being created. All these clearly indicate and insist for having a converged SDP for delivering services to smart devices in smarter fashion.
[REF-1] Pethuru Raj, Cloud Enterprise Architecture, a book published by CRC Press, USA 2012, http://www.crcpress.com/product/isbn/9781466502321
[REF-2] Thomas Erl, the Editor of Service Technology Magazine, http://www.servicetechmag.com
[REF-3] SOA White papers and Platforms, http://peterindia.net/SOA.html
[REF-4] www.peterindia.net an Information Technology (IT) Portal