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 II Published: March 28, 2014 • Service Technology Magazine Issue LXXXII PDF
Abstract: This is the second article in a two-part article series. Read the first part of this article here.
5. The Key Drivers of Converged Service Delivery Platform (SDP 2.0)
Service developers, providers and operators have been facing a critical challenge for a long time. That is, how quickly newer services can be created and delivered to customers. Achieving this goal has become a top priority for worldwide service providers as it is bound to create fresh avenues and revenues for enterprises. As widely known, the enterprise challenge is to do more with less. The straightforward method is to establish the goal of convergence as executives are striving hard and stretching further to substantially decrement the recurring IT development, infrastructure and operational costs. The much-needed convergence is happening in different layers and levels as explained below. A set of common services (service registry repository and directory) facilitates cost reduction while performing and providing services to their customers in double quick time.
Voice/Data/Content Convergence - The service revolution is sweeping the entire world. Novel services are being introduced at a very rapid rate. This is to keep their customers happy and to offset the damages of their competitors. Rather than creating services from the ground up (this is a time-consuming process), internally available services and services from third-parties can be quickly identified, and smartly combined to generate premium and path-breaking services to reward and retain the customer base. With the availability wireless broadband communication technologies and infrastructures, video services are becoming popular and pervasive. Video services are being seamlessly integrated with voice and data services on need basis to craft multifaceted and mesmerizing services.
Fixed/Mobile Convergence - Telecommunication service providers are offering converged fixed/mobile services ranging from simple bundled tariffs through sophisticated presence-based call processing to complex voice-over-broadband or voice-over-Wi-Fi roaming. In some cases, the entire service is provided by a single operator by leveraging multiple network technologies within a single service platform. On the other hand, multiple operators are working in unison to enable the complex integration process to provide seamless and value-added services. SDPs, being the panacea for the service industry, are the eyes and ears for the imminent service age.
Service-Level Convergence - The irresistible service paradigm has really opened up a host of fresh possibilities and opportunities for innovators and institutions. Everything is being expressed and exposed as publicly discoverable and accessible services. The incredibility imbedded in the service paradigm is that user clients and agents could only see and use the service interfaces. Service implementations are totally transparent and they can be implemented using any development algorithm and language and deployed in any platform. The immateriality of service implementations enables to hide all kinds (wired or wireless communication) of behind-the-scene diversity and thereby a kind of semblance and simplicity is presented to users.
As the service paradigm is sweeping the entire industry, the future beckons for a compact, cognitive and converged platform for efficient service delivery. This tightly integrated platform singlehandedly meets the varied and vast expectations of different domains such as mobile, enterprise, and social services (Web 2.0), device services (handhelds, wearables, portables, fixed and wireless devices, etc.), services for smart home (ambient assisted living (AAL) and wellness, energy optimization, comfort, convenience and choice, remote management, and entertainment services), smart car (In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) services), etc. The SDP usage and applicable domains are definitely on the climb. The composition technique has been an important factor in software engineering for a long time now. As the distribution, ubiquity, openness, multiplicity and heterogeneity of IT systems and services are growing, the aspects such as connectivity, integration, composition (orchestration and choreography), collaboration, intermediation, and arbitration have to be taken care of insightfully.
Here the contribution of SDPs as the next-generation converged platform is immensely greater and grandeur. Precisely speaking, converged platforms, networks, applications and technologies are decisively enabling and empowering the next-generation IT. Thus the seamless convergence at technology, service, network and infrastructure levels is creating a fertile ground for innovations and improvisations in the realms of service engineering and delivery.
6. A Perspective on Converged Service Delivery Platform (SDP 2.0)
The influential service paradigm is in the growth trajectory. The web world is zooming ahead in accentuating and articulating new-generation people-centric services and applications with unfathomable capabilities. Web 2.0 technologies are enabling in crafting and sustaining hordes of social networking, knowledge-exchange, and collaboration applications that are decisively impacting how humans decides, delegates and dodges in their daily walks and works. The cloud principle is fast-evolving to be the mainstream technology and has introduced a seismic shift in the ways services are being built, hosted, consumed, and utilized. That is, clouds are being strengthened and steadied to be the next-generation and all-round service infrastructure. Mobile broadband communication is introducing newer premium services (voice, video, data and all together) to mobile users.
The device space is the largest growing segment enabling quick installation of a range of smart environments such as smart homes, hospitals, hotels, etc. The service growth prospects mandate integrated, united and converged platforms for providing simple as well as sophisticated services to general public at large with ease and clarity. The integration scope has evolved further with the emergence of federated cloud. As the ultimate vision is to have the Intercloud, the potential for the service landscape is exhilarating. The figure 3 vividly illustrates the prevailing trend.
Figure 3 – The Integration Landscape
There are several other key drivers for the renewed focus on establishing flexible and futuristic SDPs. Development community is being strengthened with a number of enabling development platforms, frameworks, patterns, toolsets, utilities, reusable widgets, etc. Collective intelligence is the new buzzword with the growing support for team work and collaboration. Open source communities along with commercial-grade vendors are pushing the bar upward towards the vision of cloud-inspired service era.
Lately SDPs have emerged as a crucial cog for service providers looking for a clear edge. SDPs contribute in drastically reducing the time being taken to take newer services and solutions to market. There are specific SDPs for different business domains. As the disciplines of service engineering, assembling, delivery and management are going through a stream of incredible improvisations, SDPs too go through a number of transitions and transformations to be adaptive, resilient, and productive. Vendors come out with multipurpose and multichannel SDPs in order to fulfil the soaring requirements of the emerging service age more effectively and cognitively. Internal and external services need to be recognized, integrated and aggregated to realise smart services dynamically. Converged SDPs are being pronounced as the right platform that can drive high performance by helping providers to create, deliver and manage a wide range of products and services for consumers and enterprises more quickly, and at less cost and risk.
The next-generation SDP is to enable rapid composition of services by integrating an ever increasing number of enablers across access, applications and network, as well as business support systems (BSS) and operations support systems (OSS). The SDP 2.0 has to be open. That is, it has to be on open, scalable, available, secure, distributed, and extensible architecture and deployed on converged, dynamic, on-demand, and elastic infrastructure. A set of standard application programming interfaces (APIs) makes it possible to communicate with the entire range of communication protocols. This means that the SDP can integrate and interact with internal as well as external systems. The open SDP instigates third-party service developers and content providers to come out with more aligned and aware services.
In a nutshell, collaboration-induced innovation is the key for the future and hence the chief characteristic of future SDP is to enable seamless and spontaneous collaboration among modules within as well as outside. The forthcoming SDP hence has to be powerful enough to have smoother connectivity and integration with open-source solutions. An open SDP enables the integration of users, devices and Web 2.0 services and the creation of a soft panel of controls. A soft panel is an easy-to-use interface that enables users to manage and control multiple devices and services in a more personalized way. The soft panel provides consumers with a uniform and consistent user experience across different access channels, applications and functions.
7. The Core functions of the SDP 2.0
Service Delivery - Increasingly traditional IT environments are getting modernized to be active service environment to meet up the changing business sentiments. Today there should be legacy as well as modern applications in any IT environment. Further on, the types of applications are vastly varied encompassing web, social, enterprise, SaaS, messaging and collaboration applications. The mandate is to service-enable them to be a cool and constructive participant in the embryonic service environment.
A service registry repository comprising both common as well as vertical services is an important component in any service environment. Business analysts and managers expect to realise compound services and business mash ups easily and quickly. Disparate and geographically distributed service components need to be aggregated to drive and derive competent and composite applications. In such a heterogeneous landscape, the significance of converged SDP is greatly felt across to bring in a sense of semblance, structure and system.
Service Management involves a highly automated run-time engine / container for adaptively managing the full lifecycle of services. Every single service interaction is actively monitored and managed. Rules and policies are being involved and invoked in order to provide the true dynamism and automation in service functioning and decision-making. If there are any risky deviations and deficiencies, appropriate counter measures and actions are being taken without any intervention, interpretation and instruction from administrators.
Business Process Orchestration represents composition at the process level. Today there are standards-compliant toolkits that facilitate process modelling, simulation, engineering, integration, control, and innovation. As the manipulation is being done at the process level, the tough tasks such as application extensibility, modifiability and sustainability get greatly simplified.
Service Composition represents service orchestration as well as choreography. With services, apart from presentation, business, access, and communication logic, blending logic gets added as services are composable with internal as well as external services.
Converged Subscription Management provides the aggregated master of all the technical data needed to provision, activate, execute and operate value added services (VAS).
Authentication, Authorization and Accountability (AAA) provides the time-tested functions for network and services platforms to control the user access and track events for accounting purposes. Other related functions such as integrity and confidentiality are also made available.
Quality of Service (QoS) provides both the generalized and specialized policy decision points to manage service and operation level agreements.
8. The Prime Benefits of SDP 2.0
The converged SDP makes it easier to build and deliver rich and converged applications and services that incorporate network assets and revenue-sharing partnerships with developer and content communities. This has the additional capabilities of addressing governance, management and quality across the network, IT, and Web-based service delivery models comprehensively. With SOA, addressing the end-to-end service lifecycle and workflow across business and operational systems get greatly simplified. With Web 2.0, the power of personal, community and enterprise service innovations is being realised.
Cost Reduction - Service innovation is a continuous process involving huge costs. The SDP 2.0 can hugely offset the cost. These savings are achieved through the simplification of the service delivery infrastructure, which reduces the capital, integration, operational and maintenance costs associated with multiple and complex service delivery systems. The cost of maintaining a silo-based service delivery system drains human and financial resources, and hinders the vital business agility necessary to stay ahead of the competition.
Risks Mitigation - Services are thoroughly tested across multiple systems and refined. By enabling the reuse of functionality across multiple systems, companies can lower their risks of service creation. SOA principles enable companies to reflect their business priorities in the service delivery process.
Faster Time-to-Market - Collaboration is the key for any noteworthy success. With SDP 2.0, distributed teams and even third-parties can collaborate effectively and easily to come out with a cornucopia of new and revenue-generating services. The time-to-market gets halved with next-generation SDPs.
Breeds Innovation - Converged SDP can introduce path-breaking and profitable services, quickly and efficiently across wireless and wireline systems forcing major changes to CSPs' business models. This allows the combination of multiple business models between subscribers, service providers, and application developers
By building and delivering services that are more relevant to subscribers, service providers can improve the likelihood that these services are continually consumed, as well as increase network traffic, improve the revenue level, and reduce churn. Context-aware services also can be delivered, which further enhances subscriber loyalty and differentiation. Better targeted services also can reduce the amount of money spent on retention, while making new customer acquisitions easier and less costly.
The market for cognition-attached, composite and converged services is rapidly expanding. All kinds of service providers in the hot communications, media, and entertainment, web and enterprise application spaces have been meticulously modernizing and empowering their IT services infrastructures to profitably meet the growing demands delectably and to enhance the customer experience substantially. An essential part of this evolution has been the implementation of a SDP. These SOA-centric platforms enable operators to cost-effectively develop, deliver and manage converged digital services. SDPs help to break down the inefficient, redundant and siloed infrastructures and to sharply improve the much-needed collaboration across the services ecosystem. New services can be developed and rolled-out to customers faster and more reliably, shortening the time to revenue whereas lessening any risks and controlling flaring costs.
The service landscape is being continuously empowered with the transformative, disruptive and innovative ideas of the cloud paradigm. On the other hand, IT infrastructures and platforms are being service-enabled for remote discoverability, accessibility and leveragability. The ability to rapidly create, deliver and manage new and compelling customer-centric services is more important than ever. Businesses are driving high performance in their business operations through a series of innovations in service deployment, delivery, governance and enhancement. SDP is very effective in reducing the costs and risks of new product development while supporting a more collaborative development environment. The demand for Web 2.0, rich-media content, vide on-demand (VoD), IPTV, mobile TV, collaborative business tools, on-demand services, and Tele-Presence is radically changing the landscape of 21st century service delivery. The requirements for SDPs are going beyond the horizon. Today, new service delivery requirements have been crystallized. New-generation platforms need to address governance, management and quality across the network, IT and web-based services. The quality of service (QoS) (Non-functional requirements) attributes need to be ensured in service interactions and delivery. There is not iota of doubt that SDP occupy the prominent and dominant portion of the approaching service era.
[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