From the CEO: Telcos and the Need for Speed

The pace of change has never been faster in our industry than it is today. It’s not that we’re all getting older and finding it more difficult to keep up. (Really, it’s not!) Things really are changing rapidly.

With the advent of network functions virtualization (NFV) and software defined networking (SDN), we’re going through the most significant transition in this sector since the introduction of digital switching or the adoption of IP. The shift to a more software-centric way of building networks and developing services opens a world of opportunities for network operators and vendors alike.

That is, so long as they have the ability, agility and velocity to adapt to these changes.

When I moved to the U.S. back in 2000, one day I came across the remarkable story of Colonel John Boyd. It was one of those “aha” moments that has stuck with me ever since. Boyd was an American fighter pilot in the Korean War and a real maverick. He went on to become a flight instructor, a military strategist and one of the designers of the F-15 and F-16 aircraft. He was known as “40-second Boyd” because of a long-standing bet that he could beat any pilot in under 40 seconds in simulated aerial combat. That’s just a short list of his many accomplishments. He was a truly remarkable figure.

Boyd’s most lasting legacy, in my view, is his OODA loop model for competitive decision making, which is what made such a big impression on me. He created the model to help fighter pilots make split-second decisions in aerial combat, but it is highly relevant to any competitive situation. He distilled the decision-making process down to four phases: observe, orient, decide, act (OODA). First, you observe what’s going on around you, then you orient yourself to what you’ve observed, then you decide what do to, and finally, you take action. These are interrelated, never-ending processes that we go through every day to make decisions. They apply to organizations and individuals alike.

The key to the OODA loop’s effectiveness is speed. Those who get through the loop fastest will out-maneuver their opponents and win. Getting stuck in the loop leads to indecision, failure to take any action, and in the worst case, a total system breakdown.

So what does a maverick military pilot have to do with NFV and SDN? Software-centric networks are rapidly evolving, and fast-changing environments require high-speed decision making. An important way for network operators to gain competitive advantage is to get through the OODA loop quickly when it comes to implementing NFV and SDN. Otherwise, network operators risk being out-maneuvered by more agile competitors.

There are some operators today that look as though they are stuck in the loop. They are the ones that issue request for proposal (RFP) after RFP after RFP and never make a decision because they are constantly having to re-orient themselves to new technology developments.

As the leading network software provider, Metaswitch understands that it takes ability, agility and velocity to adopt virtualization and software-centric networking, because that’s how we operate as a company. We’re leading the transition to software-centric networks and creating new models for service architectures, and we have more than 20 network operators running our virtualized solutions in live production networks to show for it.

Metaswitch can help not only with best-in-class technology but also with getting NFV implementations done in impressive time. A great example of a network operator moving swiftly through the OODA loop decision phases for their NFV strategy and execution is Manx Telecom, which recently migrated all of its fixed voice traffic onto our virtualized IMS core and Perimeta session border controllers (SBC). Manx Telecom understood the need for speed and the strategic importance of how NFV will enable them to deliver new services more quickly. And thanks to close cooperation among Manx Telecom, Metaswitch, VMware and Cisco, the NFV project took just 10 months from initial conception to final turn-up.

I am encouraged by the number of operators that are moving quickly to adopt NFV, many of which are our customers. But not all operators have the resources to get started on the journey to network virtualization. That’s why Metaswitch developed the vNOW NFV Starter Kit, which lowers the barrier to entry for network operators that want to virtualize network functions by giving them the ability to step quickly into NFV without having to add resources or skill sets. That’s just one of the ways that we’ve turned our NFV leadership into practical solutions.

Metaswitch is the only network software provider that has the ability, agility and the velocity to lead you through the transition to cloud-based, software-centric networks that will be the foundation for innovative new services.

Don’t get stuck in the loop. Metaswitch is here to help.