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Zero Touch: the difference between acronyms and anachronisms

Our industry is exquisitely acronym-dense. While acronyms may appear to divorce technical folks from marketing folks—with a language all their own—acronyms are a reflection of the technology and operations complexity that we must somehow try to codify and communicate in our daily discourse.

It probably started with TIRKS, a Bell System OSS for trunk integrated record keeping that is still in active deployment after almost fifty years. We have also enjoyed the more pedestrian "SONETs" and "POTS"—I dare you to say “DWDM” three-times quickly—but the most inventive monikers come out of standards bodies working groups. BONDING, a Bandwidth On Demand Interoperability Group, makes me wonder if electrical engineers have more fun after work than I; or maybe one of the longest I’ve seen, the ETSI NFV ISG, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute Industry Specification Group for Network Functions Virtualization, is starting to look like some Linnaean taxonomy.


The ZOOM project

My new favorite might be the ZOOM project from the TM Forum. Maybe because it sounds like technologist playing marketeer. ZOOM stands for Zero-touch Orchestration, Operations and Management, and will be helping service providers tackle the challenges of a multi-vendor hybrid infrastructure. I don’t think we have an acronym to represent hybrid. Maybe because we want to treat legacy more as an anachronism (that which doesn’t belong in this era; something conspicuously old-fashioned).

But the contributors to the TM Forum know that legacy won’t be magically replaced with virtualization. How do they know this? Because they were the ones who wrote the standards over the past several decades for that traditional infrastructure (I think my old Bellcore colleague, Steve Fratini, probably wishes he had a hand in naming TIRKS, but he won't admit to being that old).

See how Ericsson Dynamic Orchestration is helping Verizon introduce its Virtual Network Services based on software-defined networking technology: VNS. And they’re the ones writing the standards for the new as well—NFV, SDN, Agile OSS, and Catalyst proofs-of-concept. So, who else to tackle zero-touch across acronyms old and new? Steve and his fellow contributors have been recognized for their dedication (TM Forum Honors) to rationally evolve and manage such complexity—realistically, not anachronistically—and perhaps we all should as well.

You probably have a “Steve” in your office somewhere. Take a moment at the coffee station to ask them what they’re working on. You might actually find some nugget of gold for your transformation project. Hint: keep your telecom glossary handy.


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