Telcos Capitalising on Social Networking Tools

Originally posted on 18Dec19 to IBM Developerworks where it got 8,218 Views

The announcement by Telstra* the other day of it’s social networking guidelines for employees (See Telstra’s 3Rs of Social Media Engagement and their online training class ) got me thinking about how Telcos should be using Social Networking tools and trends both internally and externally.  OK, Internally, a Telco is like any other big company when it comes to collaboration among it’s staff.  Social Networking tools help employees to  make contacts, learn and share more, find information more rapidly and maintain social networks beyond the physical boundaries of their own work location. If you’re curious about what I am talking about, I recommend you have a look at the great videos on YouTube from Jean Francois Chenier (An IBMer).  I have embedded the first of the series below:

 It’s pretty easy to see how within any large company, social networking software such as Lotus Connections makes sense provided you have enough people who actually use it – it seems to me to be something like groups calendaring – it is dependent on a significant proportion of the user population using the tool to make it effective. The way I see it, it is only a small step beyond the internal deployment of social networking tools to extend to a Telco’s trading partners.  That might include vendors, resellers (of Telco products – I was initially thinking retail, but that could include MNVOs), enterprise customers and others. Situations where employees of the Telco and employees of external companies need to work together and share information and collaborate – share idea, files, information – generally collaborate would seem to be a valid deployment of social networking tools. 

IBM already has an offering that uses social networking tools to build communities around the Ideation (Idea generation and growth) process, a kind of virtual brainstorming combined with idea and through sharing. The intent of the offering is to make it easier for companies to find and help to evolve idea for the next product to take to market.  In a Telco, this might be idea such applications like “Meet-on-click”** that a telco could take to market.  That offering is called the ‘Idea Factory’ and is not actually unique to the Telecom industry.  Kraft foods use the Idea Factory to come up with new ideas for product packaging.  When deployed in a Telco, we often combine the Idea Factory with IBM Mashup Center (recently V2.0 of Mashup Center was released by the way) – an offering I usually call the “Idea Factory for Telecom”.  The Mashup Center is used as a rapid prototyping environment for the ideas that are evolving within the Idea Factory.  In my view, this is a great way to build an active and dynamic developer community for the Telco.

China Telecom have demonstrated how effective the Idea Factory can be in a Telco environment – with a year on year improvement of 900% in a competition to find new applications  (3 to 27 new products).  Their Idea Factory deployment predated IBM Mashup Center, so they didn’t get the benefit of a rapid prototyping tool which I believe could increase the quality of the new product ideas even further.

While I am a big fan of the Idea Factory, I see that as just a starting point for social networking tools hosted by a Telco that extend beyond just their developer community and into their (much) larger subscriber base.  Think about building many local communities based around schools, churches, scout troops, national holidays, religious events, local football teams, mothers groups… anything really.  The community would have access to a shared virtual community on the web accessible from a PC or (more importantly for many developing nations) from a mobile phone, they would have microblogging, blogs, files sharing, discussion forums, profiles contacts AND be tied into more traditional Telco services such as calling circles.  The Telco could provide discounted call and text rate between community members.  Sound good?  I think so.  For the Telco I see a number of benefits:

  • Decreased likelihood to churn – increased ‘stickiness’
  • Stronger loyalty to the Telco brand
  • Increased revenue due to increase in call and text volumes and increased mobile data usage once a reasonable proportion of the community is using the tools
  • An additional weapon against the Internet based competitors (such as Facebook, Skype, Twitter, Instagram etc)

Telcos in my opinion have a significant advantage over the Internet companies when it comes to offerings like this. They have:

  • An existing relationship (post or pre paid) customer
  • More local footprint via people on the ground and reseller/franchisees
  • Existing monetary arrangements with the customers
  • Greater trust by customers (typically)

Telcos could easily become the local aggregation point for social networking within that community – for instance with a Facebook connection, subscribers could update their Facebook wall without the need to launch Facebook.  Microblogging entries could automatically update status in Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and sent a tweet out on twitter.

I think this is going to be big – web based social networking giants like Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn have proved how popular web based social networking can be – add the local context to it and I think you have a winner for Telcos in many markets.

Now that I have started this thought, I think the next few posts could well be along similar vein – looking at the Idea Factory for Telecom, Telco focused Developer Ecosystems, User generated content and Public focused and Telco integrated social networking capabilities….

Here endith my thought (for now)

Telco SDP Lite (Service Delivery Platform)

Originally posted on 01Dec09 to IBM Developerworks where it got 9,557 Views

In response to the presentation I built (and blogged about – see Telecom Systems Evolution) a number of IBMers asked for costings for each phase. While that would be possible at the early stages where you don’t have to take into account scaling, later in the phases, that really does become impossible. For instance lets say phase 4 was US$1m for Telecom New Zealand (with about 2 million subscribers and a heavy post paid mix of subscribers) and compare that with Bharti-Aitel in India with 120 million subscribers and a heavy pre-paid mix. Because of the variations in telcos around the world, there is no way any pricing that was added to the presentation would be in any way applicable – that is something that has to happen on a per telco basis.

That said, we are working on a “starting point” or “lite’ implementation and wrapping some costs around that – we think this would be a good starting point for many SDP projects – kind of a standard phase 1. The architecture would be built with expansion in mind even though at phase 1, the components would not be excessively sized. So far, we have a near final Bill of Materials and a number of diagrams. I thought I would share those diagrams with you here. We still need to document all the assumptions and limitations that this “SDP Lite” phase 1 architecture would entail.

I would appreciate feedback on these diagrams, so please comment.

SPDE 3.0

The IBM Telco specialists should recognise this – it is the Service Provider Delivery Environment Version (SPDE) 3 – IBM’s industry framework for Telecoms. I included it here for reference and comparison with the follow diagram that illustrates the areas of impact that SDP lite will have on SPDE 3.0.

Now, see the areas of impact that SDP Lite has on SPDE 3.0 – the Orange shades indicate areas of impact.   Iif we map the IBM products in the Bill of Materials over the top of that, we get…

SDP Lite

That’s it with the logical views of SDP Lite. The next one is a marketecture diagram to help explain the key principles and functions of SDP lite.  I am only showing the production environment in this diagram, but you could also have a separate environment that is a duplicate of this that could be dedicated to both test and ISVs.

For those that want to understand the Deployment units and their basic layout, I have a deployment unit diagram

Finally, an illustration to show how the SDP Lite infrastructure could support a developer ecosystem – the shaded components could be added in subsequent phases – for now, it is all about secure exposure of web services and REST interfaces to a developer ecosystem that is using conventional Integrated Development Environments (IDE). Note also that the hosting servers for the developer applications are out of scope and could be hosted anywhere on the Internet.

Keep in mind that this is supposed to provide a starting point – or initial deployment. Infrastructure that could grow, but could be used immediately for smaller trials. With that in mind, in estimating the performance, this is what we get:

Use Cases:

This SDP Lite infrastructure would allow a telco to begin offering a range of new services and products as well as form the basis for a larger and more functionally rich topology later on.  Some of the use cases that come to mind immediately include:

  1. Service exposure to 3rd party ISVs – Web Services and/or REST.  This represents a new revenue opportunity for many telcos.
  2. Build composite applications that consume and combine existing services to automate processes like retailer commissions
  3. Marketing campaigns based around bundled products. For instance: top up your prepaid mobile broadband and get unlimited text messages for 24 hours on your mobile – Globe Telecom in the Philippines are doing this exactly.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aL1UiXwY4LI
  4. Begin to build a developer ecosystem around the exposed services
  5. Build composite applications that consume and combine existing services to offer new products to subscribers such as
    1.  Family Finder – Allow parents to see where their kids are and where they have been
    2. Meet on Click – Friends can see where each other is, what is on locally and send invitations to catch up via SMS, MMS or PushWAP
    3. Emergency notifications – Notify everyone in a specified geographical area of some danger
    4. Location based marketing – Send SMS/MMS/PushWAP messages to subscribers who have oped in when they get within 500m of a retail outlet.
    5. lots of others…..

Assumptions/Performance estimates:

TWSS

Performance basics

  • 50% CPU Maximum
  • JS12 Blades (one for TWSS Access Gateway, One for TWSS Service Platform)
  • 8Gb RAM

Interfaces supported

  • SMSM via SMPP
  • PushWAP via SMPP
  • MMS via MM7
  • LBS via MLP
  • Parlay via CORBA
  • Presence via SIP
  • IMS/VoIP via SIP

Expected max transaction rates

  • 100 TPS* for SendSMS via SMPP
  • 10 TPS* for SendMMS via MM7
  • Other transactions could be added into the mix, but would lower the SMS or MMS transaction rate.

WPS

Performance basics

  • 50% CPU Maximum
  • JS12 Blade
  • 8Gb RAM
  • 80% Shortlived transactions
  • 20% Long Lived transactions

Expected max transaction rate

  • 20 TPS* of the above transaction split

TAMeb

Performance basics

  • 50% CPU Maximum
  • JS12 Blades (one for WebSeal, One for TAM Policy Manager)
  • 8Gb RAM

Expected max transaction rate

  • 40* TPS

DB2 Enterprise Edition

Performance basics

  • 50% CPU Maximum
  • JS12 Blade
  • 8Gb RAM
  • Minimum of 12 Disks in RAID 1+0 Array

So, assuming that both internal and external users/systems were using the system concurrently, we could support up to 40TPS from external developers (limited by TAMeb) which if we assume they are using 90% TWSS services and 10% composite services will mean that internal systems would have 74TPS of TWSS services and 16TPS of WPS services available if the developers are consuming 50% of the TAM CPU. .

ComponentExternal DevelopersRemainder for Internal Use
TAM40 TPSn/a
TWSS36 TPS(32.7 TPS of SendSMS + 3.2TPS of SendMMS)74 TPS(67.3 TPS of Send SMS + 6.8 TPS of SendMMS)
WPS4 TPS(3.2 shortlived + 0.8 longlived TPS)16 TPS(12.8 TPS shortlived + 3.2 longlived TPS)

These are really rough numbers and I would like to add some more assumptions around then. Of course, if your Telco won’t have a developer programme, then 100% of the transactions would be available for internal consumption. .

What do you think? Are we on the right track for your Telco customer? Would you like to see some changes?
 Please comment…


* TPS estimates are very conservative which will give any telco taking on this sort of SDP lite topology plenty of room to grow.

Telco System Evolution

Originally posted on 26Nov09 to IBM Developerworks where it got 11,308 Views

I had a request on the other week to create a number of topology diagrams that showed how a Telco might start small and grow their environment to add new capabilities and services. This was specifically for a telco in Vietnam, but I figured it would make sense to generalise the presentation and the images to make it usable for other opportunities. We’ve had a similar request from other telcos recently as well. The presentation step through 11 phases from a pilot/trial environment through to a full blown system. Each slide has speaker notes explaining what is being added at each phase in terms of products and capabilities. This presentation is not meant to make any recommendations on how to evolve form a small system to a more complex and capable one. What it is supposed to illustrate one possible evolution… Note that it focuses only on the IBM components and some other components would also be required for some phases (such as a transcoding engine in the media extension phase).

Below are three of the diagrams – Phase 1, Phase 6 and Phase 11 and the speaker notes that go along with that phase – to give you a feel for the flow…

Phase 1 – Test Environment

Phase 1 – Test Environment

At this first stage, an initial deployment might be considered a proof of concept or a trial – which could become the test and or ISV environment,  The functions that this could offer are:

  • Composite applications that bring together functions provided by the network.  For instance an application that consumes SMS messaging and integrates the location of the handset into an app. 
  • WSRR will get them down the path of SOA Governance – it is important to get this in early to ensure that the governance model is maintained and the Telco will now need to rework services that are created at this stage.
  • Complex workflows and business processes can be built which include human tasks (such as prototype processes for the production implementation )

Phase 6 – Developer Ecosystem including Web 2.0

Phase 6 introduces the Developer Ecosystem components such as :

  • Idea Factory for Telecom – which will help make a dispersed group of developers into a community.  It enable the sharing of ideas and a framework for the Telco to manage the evolution of the ideas that are generated within the community.  It also provides a rapid prototyping capability via…
  • IBM Mashup Canter which allows users to drag widgets onto a workspace and simply wire them together.  It is both the development and the runtime architecture.  This means that developers don’t need deep development skills in order to build new applications.
  • WebSphere sMash which provides a PHP and Groovy scripting environment (both development using the Dojo toolkit and the runtime environment)

This combined with the web services exposure deployed in phase 4 means that the developer ecosystem can now cater for all levels of developers – those with no skills can use the drag and drop mashup environment, script developers can use sMash and more advanced developers can use the web services interface.  In the backup slides there is an illustration of this.

For advanced developers the Telco can support developers across a range of IDEs ranging from Rational and Eclipse (where we have Telecom Toolkits available for free) to other IDEs (such as Microsoft Visual Studio or Sun Netbeans) where the IDE has tools to assist developers with consuming web services.  In all the IDEs, developers will consume the Web Services Description Language (WSDL) file from a UDDI directory in the DMZ.  The UDDI directory (part of WPS) is populated from the WSRR internal services repository.

Phase 11 – IMS integration and extension

When the Telco goes down the IP Mulitmedia Subsystem (IMS) path, the software deployed already has IMS enablement, but at this point we can also add WebSphere Presence Server (PS) and WebSphere XML document Management Server (XDMS – formerly WebSphere Grouplist Manager) which provides IMS services for the IMS services plane.  The core infrastructure that was deployed way back in phases 1 and 2 are critical to the IMS Services plane. 


It is important to understand that the phases I have split them down into are purely arbitrary and are not necessarily what would happen in a real telco. Which function occurs at what point and in combination with other functions is something that must be driven by the business requirements of the telco.  The intent is to illustrate how a telco could start small and add function incrementally building on the previous investments.

Telco leaders support IMS over LTE

Originally posted on 25Nov09 to IBM Developerworks where it got 7,721 Views

I noticed this article today at FierceWireless today:

Verizon, AT&T, others rally on IMS approach to voice over LTE

November 4, 2009 — 11:10am ET | By Phil Goldstein

Read more: Verizon, AT&T, others rally on IMS approach to voice over LTE – fiercewireless.com

Verizon Wireless, AT&T and several major international carriers and vendors threw their support behind an IMS-based approach to delivering voice and SMS services over LTE networks. The level of operator support–the approach also is supported by Orange, Telefonica, TeliaSonera and Vodafone–sits in sharp contrast to another approach, called Voice over LTE via Generic Access, or VoLGA, which is supported by T-Mobile International.

Vendors including Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Networks, Nokia, Samsung Electronics and Sony Ericsson also voiced their support for the initiative, dubbed One Voice. The companies said they concluded that an IMS-based approach “is the most applicable approach to meeting the consumers’ expectations for service quality, reliability and availability when moving from existing circuit-switched telephony services to IP-based LTE services. This approach will also open the path to service convergence, as IMS is able to simultaneously serve broadband wireline and LTE wireless networks.”

The companies said that the purpose of the initiative is to create the largest LTE ecosystem possible, and to avoid fragmentation of technical solutions.

Interestingly, both Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson also support the VoLGA approach, and Nokia Siemens has supported its own solution, called Fast Track Voice, which proposes having mobile switching center servers handle VoIP traffic over LTE networks. VoLGA proponents argue that their approach should be used as an interim solution. All three vendors said they do not see a conflict in supporting the different approaches.

continues…

For more: See this release – SMS over LTE

See also this related article on UnStrung

Is it just me or when you read “VoLGA” do you think “Vulgar” – I think the ALu acronym police need to get out from behind their desks and make an arrest for that one!

I’ve drawn up a representation of the situation as I see it. NSN going it alone with Fast Track Voice, almost everyone else supporting VoLGA and planning to move to OneVoice.

The thing that I find really interesting is the inference by ALu that they will continue to stand by VoLGA as well as support it as an interim step to OneVoice while NSN seem to be saying that Fast Track Voice is only an interim step on the path to OneVoice. It’s also interesting to note that the VoLGA consortium seems to be mainly Network Equipment Providers (NEPS) while OneVoice is both NEPs and Telcos…. I suppose the most appropriate message is “watch this space”…


PS. On rereading this post, I imaging some of you are going ‘Huh?’ I apologise for the Telco jargon.  Let me take a moment to try and explain some of the terms that appear in this post.

  1. IMS – IP Multimedia Subsystem (not IBM’s mainframe database that helped put man on the moon).  This is a specification controlled by 3GPP (a Telco standards body) to describe a next generation IP based telephony environment.  Most telcos today still run a legacy switched environment based on very specialised protocols such as SS7 and Sigtran. These protocols are not IP based and as such require very specialised (read expensive) skills to work with them.  The other thing is that they are not really standardised – each NEP has their own version of the SS7 protocols.  IMS promises to bring much cheaper skills and shorter development cycles to the Telcos core platform – something they have not had before.  IBM has a number of products that are targeted at telco’s IMS infrastructure (WebSphere IMS Connector, WebSphere Presence Server and WebSphere XML Document Management Server)
  2. LTE – Long Term Evolution is seen by most NEPS as the next logical evolution step for carriers with GSM networks.  That evolutionaty path goes something like this: GSM->GPRS->EDGE->UMTS->HSDP->LTE.  LTE promises to deliver high bandwidth mobile connections.  The main rival to LTE is WiMax which you may have heard of before.
  3. ALu – Alcatel Lucent (a very common abbreviation for the joint company)

28Nov19

This post hasn’t really aged well. I’ve reposted it because it shows a historical perspective of the direction beck in 2009. These days, the acronym of choice is VOLTE – or Voice Over LTE. VOLTE has received a lot of traction in the past ten years with Apple, Google and others building support for VOLTE into their phones for a number of years now.

Network speeds in the developing world

Originally posted on 29Nov09 to IBM Developerworks where it got 6,943 Views

I get regular emailed updates from one of the newspapers here in Australia (The Sydney Morning Herald in this case) – A few months ago, there was an interesting article about a IT company in South Africa who found it was much faster to transfer data by carrier pigeon then electronically.  For reference, it is available here http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/carrier-pigeon-faster-than-south-african-isp-20090910-fi9h.html

To quote the article:

Carrier pigeon faster than South African ISP

September 10, 2009 – 10:53AM

A South African information technology company proved it was faster for them to transmit data with a carrier pigeon than to send it using Telkom, the country’s leading internet service provider.

Internet speed and connectivity in Africa’s largest economy are poor because of a bandwidth shortage. It is also expensive.

Local news agency SAPA reported the 11-month-old pigeon, Winston, took one hour and eight minutes to fly the 80 km from Unlimited IT’s offices near Pietermaritzburg to the coastal city of Durban with a data card was strapped to his leg.

Including downloading, the transfer took two hours, six minutes and 57 seconds — the time it took for only four percent of the data to be transferred using a Telkom line.

continues….

Okay, it was a bit of a stunt.  I am sure if I posted  a 32Gb SD Card to the Sydney (standard mail service- often next day delivery, but sometimes the day after that), it would arrive faster than I could transfer that content from my home office.  What does that prove in terms of available bandwidth?  Not much really – SD cards can hold an incredible amount of information these days.  I have worked with customers in the past who shipped hard-drives around when they needed to transfer large amounts of data – even today – on most networks, it would be faster to courier a 1Tb HDD anywhere in the world than to transfer that much data over the wire.

The article did get me thinking though.  I travel quite a bit around Asia and have experienced first hand the speed of networks in many countries.  I’ve seen networks slower than a dial up modems (in Vietnam IBM Office) – in fact I reckon that my mobile phone as a modem over an EDGE connection (3G in Vietnam is very patchy) would have been faster than the IBM office network connection.  This is not a unique situation – in many countries I visit, the network speed is faster in my hotel than it is at the local IBM office. 

How does this effect the way we behave?  Lets look at a specific example.  Last year, I was doing a lot of work for the Globe Telecom SDP project that we eventually won with NSN in the Philippines.   I was using Cattail (an IBM Research project for sharing files – similar functionality to the Lotus Connections Files capabilty that we now have in MyDeveloperworks)  to upload files so that the local IBMPH IBM team could get to them rather than clog up their mail boxes.  Smart – or so I thought.  With Cattail, you are able to see who is downloading your files – often quite interesting as it was in this case.  I noticed that only one person in the Philippines was downloading the files, despite notifying about 12 people that they each needed to look at the content.  After a while I asked this one person why no one else was downloading the files from Cattail – he told me that because the network was so slow, most people were unable to even load the Cattail page to begin the download, so he went through the pain for everyone, then emailed the files around the local team!  So much for not clogging up their mail files.

I am constantly frustrated by the US centric assumption that the whole world has the same bandwidth available to them as they do.  Even in Australia, I am paying AU$68 per month for 12Gb of traffic – typically around 2 Mbps actual (10Mbps claimed capacity) downstream and  250 kbps actual upstream. By US standards, that must seem slow, but by the standards of developing nations in ASEAN, that’s pretty darn good.  There is still a huge digital divide between the haves (the US) and the have-nots (developing nations) – while some countries will have fibre to the home deployed (or being deployed) over the next few years – Singapore will be done very quickly I anticipate – I wont have that sort of speed available to me  until 2012 the Australian federal government claims (I expect it will be more like 2020 though as I do not live in the inner suburbs of Melbourne)

So, what point was I trying to make?  I am not sure.  I am frustrated at my bandwidth sometimes (usually not) but in countries that I visit, the whole nation must feel frustrated.    I often see web pages sizes in excess of 500kb  – a ridiculously large size and unusable in most of Asia.  Application designers need to be mindful of the bandwidth availability if they hope to be successful in Asia. If you have thoughts, please comment…

🙂 PS  The other thing this article reminded me of was RFC 1149 -A Standard for the Transmission of IP Datagrams on Avian Carriers  Although I know that carrier pigeon transmission of IP packets (datagrams) would go anywhere near the throughput achieved by strapping a SD card to the pigeon’s leg.
 

Image credits : Photo from Stock.XCHNG

Funny sign at Celcom Malaysia

Originally posted on 23Nov09 to IBM Developerworks where it got 9,206 Views

 I’ve met with Celcom (a Telco in Malaysia) a few times this year, they have a funny sign in the lift well of every floor…  So much for all the IBM sales staff that were with me!  

:-)

Apologies for the quality of the photo – I only had my phone camera with me at the time.

Simple explanation of PVU licensing and Oracle’s equivalent for multi-core CPUs

Originally posted on 23Nov09 to IBM Developerworks where it got 24,722 Views

I am working with a number of IBM business partners and I found a need to explain to them how our Software licensing works. I found that many of our sales staff don’t fully understand it either, so I figured I would post the explanation I wrote for the business partners to try and explain it so more people “get it”. The other thing that struck me in speaking with some partners was that – despite some of them them partnering with Oracle more often than they have with us in the past – they had a simplistic view of Oracle’s licensing thinking that it was simply CPU based. Oracle’s licensing scheme is similar to our own PVU scheme in weighting different multi-core CPUs differently for licensing purposes.

First – IBM’s PVU scheme

The majority of the IBM runtime components are priced per PVU. The Processor Value Unit or PVU is an arbitrary notion that IBM came up with to cater for multi-core CPUs and the fact that some platforms offered more processing power per CPU core than other platforms. Different brand processors cores are considered equivalent to PVU counts from 30 PVUs to 120 PVUs per core.

For example, an Intel single-core CPU is 100 PVU. Intel multi core CPUs are considered to be equivalent to 50 PVUs per processor core (or 70 PVUs per core for the newer Intel chips), so a dual core CPU would be 100 or 140 PVU and a quad core CPU would be 200 or 280 PVU.  Prior to the latest generation of Intel multi-core CPUs, Intel multi-core architecture was such that a single dual core CPU offers similar processing power to a single core CPU, so to be fair to customers that use Intel multi core CPUs, IBM only rates each core at 50 PVUs.  The latest chips have improved their processing power per core over previous generations of chip and they are now rated at 70 PVUs per core as a result.

IBM PowerPC chips are more efficient and therefore the PVU rating per CPU core is 80 PVU per core for Power 6 blades although other PowerPC CPUs are rated at 50, 100 or 120 PVUs per core.

The PVU calculator is available at https://www-112.ibm.com/software/howtobuy/passportadvantage/valueunitcalculator/vucalc.wss


Now – lets look at the Oracle do it


For multi-core CPUs, Oracle have a similar scheme to IBM. This quote is from Oracle’s current price list on their web site – http://www.oracle.com/corporate/pricing/technology-price-list.pdf New reference http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/contracts/processor-core-factor-table-070634.pdf:

 “Processor: shall be defined as all processors where the Oracle programs are installed and/or running. Programs licensed on a processor basis may be accessed by your internal users (including agents and contractors) and by your third party users. The number of required licenses shall be determined by multiplying the total number of cores of the processor by a core processor licensing factor specified on the Oracle Processor Core Factor Table which can be accessed at http://oracle.com/contracts. All cores on all multicore chips for each licensed program are to be aggregated before multiplying by the appropriate core processor licensing factor and all fractions of a number are to be rounded up to the next whole number. When licensing Oracle programs with Standard Edition One or Standard Edition in the product name, a processor is counted equivalent to an occupied socket; however, in the case of multi-chip modules, each chip in the multi-chip module is counted as one occupied socket..”

This basically means that for Intel quad core CPUs, they are priced at twice the price of an Intel Single core CPU (a multiplier of .50 per core) – exactly the same as IBM pricing for Intel Quad core CPUs. Likewise, for PowerPC (Po dual core CPUs, they apply an factor of 0.75 since they do not differentiate between the processing power from other manufacturers other than Intel, AMD or Sun and just apply a generic multiplier of 0.75.  Oracle have introduced a more comprehensive factor table to calculate their per CPU licensing price (introduced in  March this year I think) where they added multipliers of 0.5 and 1.0 to their table.  Oracle’s core factor table is available at http://www.oracle.com/corporate/contracts/library/processor-core-factor-table.pdf

To illustrate, if the Oracle product license cost is $100 per CPU and the IBM price is $1 per PVU, then the following table illustrates how Oracle and IBM pricing will change depending on the processor that software is deployed on.

Assuming the base software price is $100/CPU (Oracle) or $1 per PVU (IBM)

CPU TypeOracle Cost calculation Price x RoundUp(CPU cores x multiplier)Oracle Extended software costIBM PVU rating (PVUxCPU-cores)Extended Cost
single core CPU (any)100 x 1$100.00100$100.00
Intel/AMD Quad Core(older)100 x RoundUp(4 x 0.5)
= 100 x 2

$200.00
50×4$200.00
Intel/AMD Quad Core(new)100 x RoundUp(4 x 0.5)
= 100 x 2

$200.00
70×4$280.00
Sun UltraSparc T1 Hexa-core(1.0 or 1.2 Ghz)
100 x RoundUp(6 x 0.25)
= 100 x 2

$200.00
30×6$180.00
Sun UltraSparc T1 Hexa-core(1.4 Ghz or higher)
100 x RoundUp(6 x 0.5)
= 100 x 3

$300.00
30×6$180.00
Sun UltraSparc T2 Hexa-core100 x RoundUp(6 x 0.75)
= 100 x 5

$500.00
50×6$300.00
IBM PowerPC Dual Core POWER6
(520, JS12, JS22 servers)
100 x RoundUp(2 x 1.0)
= 100 x 2

$200.00
80×2$160.00
IBM PowerPC Dual Core POWER6
(550,560,570, 575, 595 svrs)
100 x RoundUp(2 x 1.0)
= 100 x 2

$200.00
120×2$240.00
IBM Power5 Quad Core100 x RoundUp(4 x 0.75)
= 100 x 3

$300.00
50×4$200.00

This illustrates that both IBM and Oracle understand that not all multi-core CPUs are created equally – some are more like multiple single core CPUs just placed on a single die. It also shows that Oracle and IBM both understand that CPU architectures such as the SunSparc and Intel/AMD x86 offer less processing power per CPU core that IBM PowerPC architecture.

Lets dispel the myth that Oracle price per CPU only – their multipliers provide a similar pricing strategy to IBM’s PVU based pricing – sometimes IBM has the price advantage, sometimes Oracle has the price advantage. Oracle first introduced this type of multi-core licensing back in 2005 although back then the multipliers were set at a generic 0.75 per CPU core for all processor types – regardless of CPU processing power.

Note – as both Oracle and IBM have the right to change their pricing at any time, I can only vouch for the accuracy of this post at the time it was originally posted (Nov09).

LMC with LotusLive in a Telco

Originally posted Nov 11 2009 on IBM Developerworks where it got 13,464 views

I was at a workshop with a customer in Manila recently when they started to talk about compression over a client link (especially from Nokia S60 Mobile Phones) – a key value proposition of Lotus Mobile Connect.  Not since I was in a Pervasive Technical Sales in Australia / New Zealand had I seen an opportunity for a hosted Lotus Mobile Connect (LMC) deployment.  For those of you that weren’t aware that LMC supported a hosted deployment – it does.  

If you have  the Mobility Client installed (The client for Lotus Mobile Connect – on any platform) you will notice a field labelled “Organizational Unit” – ever wondered what that is for? It’s simple really. It is there so than in a hosted deployment, the LMC authentication mechanism is able to distinguish between “John Smith” at Company A and “John Smith” at Company B. . Typically, you would use Tivoli Directory Integrator (TDI) to enable a federated directory model so that the individual client companies can manage their own internal directory – and because TDI uses LDAP to communicate with those directories, it doesn’t matter what those client directories are (Domino, MS Active Directory, Sun Directory Server, Novell Groupwise Directory, openLDAP etc) – as long as they support LDAP V3.    Basically, there are two deployment topologies that enable LMC to be deployed in a hosted environment… (I have deliberately left TDI out of the diagram since the purpose of the following diagrams are intended to illustrate the Client options and Encryption break or end-to-end)     

  Secondly, there is a lower security (and cheaper to deploy) topology that still gives the end users the advantages of LMC, but without end-to-end encryption – this model requires that the client companies trust the Telco since there is a break in encryption at the Telco’s hosting centre.  This model would not be suitable in high security/privacy industries such as Finance, Health, Government, military or Emergency Services. 

 A Telco might offer the lower security model as their standard product and the end-to-end model as the premium service with a price premium… This is a potential salable product to a Telco’s enterprise customers in it’s own right, but if we look at the offering that also come from LotusLive ([particularly LotusLive Notes and LotusLive iNotes).  In a market like the Philippines or many others across Asia, I suspect there is a business to be made by offering Domino capabilities or even just plain old hosted email but kept separate from the masses of a Telco’s standard data customers who all get an email address like username@telco.com.ph.  Using LotusLive Notes or iNotes would allow a small business to maintain their own virtual email system and keep their own email domain, internal email addresses but without the headaches of looking after their own servers.  If we think about the LotusLive offerings in a Telco – where the LotusLive products are rebranded to suit the telco, they could easily go along with a hosted LMC offering.  This would provide secure access by remote or mobile users to their own network and their own virtual email environment.  
I had hoped that for the LotusLive deployment of Domino in LotusLive notes that some code changes had been made to make Domino work in a multi-realm environment – alas, no. Consequently, there is a minimum customer deployment size of 1000 users – way bigger than most Telcos would be looking for and way too big for the Philippine market. As it stands, LotusLive iNotes is not much better at 500 users, but it so far looks like that is an IBM decision and that if the Telco is to take on the level one support, then it would be up to the Telco to decide what the minimum customer size is to be. Indeed, Some legacy Outblaze (from whom we bought assets from to deploy LotusLive iNotes) customers have some ISP/ASP customers that resell their service to end customers with 5,10 or 20 users.

Perhaps a diagram is in order to explain who it might all come together. I have refined my diagrams that illustrate the hosted deployment of LMC with LotusLive iNotes (or ANY LotusLive product for that matter – Engage, Connections, Meeting etc). First, the Premium offering:

Or in a slightly less secure deployment (with a break in Encryption at the Telco – probably not acceptable for a Bank or Government department, but fine for may smaller businesses) :

As I see it, a Telco offering this type of service could charge a premium for the end to end encryption model while the second model might be a cheaper service.
As an adjunct to the LMC and LotusLive iNotes offering, a Telco might also offer Lotus Foundations for an on-premise offering to SMBs.  I am not sure if Foundations will interest every Telco, but we already have some success with Telco sold Foundations in Singapore. ]If you are interested in understanding this hosted model for Lotus Mobile Connect (LMC) or LotusLive iNotes, please let us know… It could make for an interesting series of blog posts

IMS Connector for offline (Rf) charging

Originally posted Nov 4 2009  to IBM Developerworks where it got 11,743 Views

Published back in April, is a new document on developerworks, “Develop an offline charging application based on WebSphere IMS Connector” which looks a very useful document so i figured it would make sense to bring it to your attention….

http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/websphere/library/techarticles/0904_li/0904_li.html (link now broken)
To quote the article…

Li Ling, IT Specialist IBM

This article describes how you can develop an offline charging application using the Rf interface in IBM® WebSphere® IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) Connector V6.2, presents a sample asynchronous offline charging adapter to enable multi-threaded throughput of the Rf client, and discusses performance tuning based on the Rf interface.

Introduction

IBM WebSphere IP Multimedia Subsystem Connector V6.2 (hereafter referred to as WebSphere IMS Connector) is an important component of the IBM Service Delivery Platform for Telecommunications. In the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) architecture, the WebSphere IMS Connector connects SIP applications with IMS core elements and provides functions of offline charging (through the Rf interface), online charging (Ro interface), and subscriber profile management (Sh interface).

This article describes how to develop an offline charging application, leveraging the Rf interface in WebSphere IMS Connector V6.2. An asynchronous offline charging adapter that implements an asynchronous callback interface to enable multi-threaded throughput of the Rf client is then presented. This discussion concludes with a look at performance tuning with WebSphere IMS Connector.

This article assumes a basic understanding of the IP Multimedia Subsystem, Diameter protocol, Java™ programming, and Web services standards.

continues…..

.

My son, Web2.0 participant at 5 years old!

Originally posted  Nov 4 2009, IBM Developerworks where it got 14,276 Views

It occurred to me the other day, when talking to a customer about Web2.0 – the participatory web, that I have a great example at home – I don’t need to talk about Youtube, Flickr or Wikipedia – my five year old son is a great example of Web 2.0 in action.

My son Max – like many boys of his age is a big fan of the cartoon character Ben Ten. At home, he watches Cartoon Network to get his Ben Ten fix. In conjunction with the TV show, Cartoon Network have a number of games available on their web site – for them it is all about encouraging their viewers to keep watching and the way they do that is to offer games based on their shows on their web site to encourage more intense interest in the shows. They have recently launched a game creator which allows their web site users to build their own Ben Ten games. 

Max (my son) loves the game creator. It enables him to build his own games using a shockwave interface, then share that game with other users of the Cartoon Network web site.

That is the perfect example of the Web 2.0 concept of the participatory web. Max has ok computer skills for his age, but he still has a long way to go, yet he is able to and really enjoys creating his own games. More than that, he loves sharing his creations with others. That sort of participation, sharing and creation is exactly what Web 2.0 is all about.

I am such a proud dad!
If you want to try it our for yourself, this game is available at http://gamecreator.cartoonnetwork.com.au/?id=141081

Some important things to note: The games are rated and stats are recorded on the number of attempts and time played – clicking on the “share this game” link add to the share count – Max doesn’t (yet) have many friends with email accounts, so that’s not a big deal to him, but older kids (and me!) find that a useful capability to share original games around…

What can we learn form this lesson as related to Telcos? Well, here are some things that I’ve learnt from my son:

  • Make it easy – in the telco space the closest Web 2.0 equivalent we have is the Mashup Center. Frankly, I think it is pretty easy to use, so I think we’re doing ok on that score
  • Provide a rating capability – Max loves it when his games get blue balls (the rating visual that Game Creator uses) – likewise, the Widget library in the Mashup Center has this capability
  • Provide usage stats – I think it’s really interesting to see which of Max’s Games are getting played (let alone being voted for). I am not sure if Mashup Center or the Widget Library does this or not. If not, I think it would be a good addition.
  • Relate the participation back to your business – For Cartoon Network, that’s all about getting web users to watch the show through getting players excited about the characters. For Telco’s the Mashup environment should also encourage users to use Telco services and think of that telco as more than just their carrier, but their technology partner for the future…

So, I’ve found a real world example that I can now use in my Web 2.0 for Telco presentations… 🙂

.