• United States
by Mike Jude

Trends at SuperComm affect mgmt. software

Jun 16, 20033 mins
Data Center

* Report from SuperComm 2003

The SuperComm trade show earlier this month definitely reflected where telecommunications has been and where it is going.

It was immediately noticeable that this year’s show was much smaller than last year’s – there were fewer exhibitors and attendees, in spite of the fact that the organizers were practically giving away tickets to anyone who would attend. In this sense the show reflects the dramatic implosion that telecom has undergone over the last couple of years. While even as late as last year’s show, a fairly large number of start-up companies were still to be seen, this year was characterized by established companies.

The good news from SuperComm, however, is that there is definitely a new dynamic evolving. Companies last year were moaning over the “dot-bomb” – this year they are articulating a new vision for telecommunications. That new vision is “service.”

The word “service” was part of very nearly every discussion I participated in or overheard. Carriers have finally realized that access line growth will no longer carry revenue streams. The question is what to do with the existing access lines to staunch the flow of red ink. The answer has to be services. Unlike the bad old days when carrier service was an oxymoron, this time around they are really serious about it and are prepared to spend money to achieve it. This service-centric orientation isn’t just being felt at the carrier level; it is also influencing the vendors who provide services and products to the carriers.

Management software vendors, in particular, that have been able to get away with providing substandard technology at inflated prices to the telecom market are now feeling the imperative to provide higher quality at lower cost. This is in no large measure due to the fact that many enterprise management providers have entered the telecom market with software every bit as capable, but much more cutting-edge than many of the incumbent providers.

The services SuperComm focused on include advanced wireless and converged services. This year, for the first time, wireless hot spots were provided to the attendees and wireless vendors had an extensive amount of floor space. Packet-based services are also now coming to the fore with several local exchange carriers exhibiting their offerings.

The implications of all of this for enterprise IT are interesting. In the first place, the telecommunications market is now seriously trying to understand your needs. I received many questions on what enterprise IT needs to be successful. This puts IT in the driver seat and offers some interesting potential for collaboration. In the second place, it means that vendors who have traditionally thought of service providers as their only customers are now perceiving the need to deliver software that can transcend the gap between service provider and enterprise. Many of the products available for service providers in the areas of inventory and asset management are just shy of being deployable by an astute enterprise IT shop, for example. The benefits of doing so would be significant.

SuperComm, while not a venue for everyone, is nevertheless an interesting harbinger of things to come. Next year’s show will be held in Chicago. For interested IT managers, it might be a good investment of time, especially for those IT managers contemplating the need to become service providers to their own internal user community.