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CircleThe terms ‘openness’ and ‘collaboration’ are turning into quite a fashion at the moment among vendors in the broadband space. The trend is to be seen to be displaying all cards out in the open, working for the greater good and moving away from the proprietary natures of their past.

All this is very praiseworthy. And new. But is it just a fashion, or can it last?

Well, as operators look towards applying software and virtualization to key elements of their networks, the one thing they want is openness. If the components of their networks are open, so the theory goes, operators can then choose to mix and match, and if they wish, build in new software equipment by new market place vendors at more competitive prices than if they were to stick solely to solutions from the traditional vendor community.

On the surface, you would think this threat would be a very good reason for the traditional vendors not to support openness! But with so many new virtualization players coming through into the marketplace regardless, and operators’ keenness to embrace what they have to offer, it is an issue that they can no longer avoid.

If a traditional vendor is to succeed, they need to be seen not only to be co-operating, but moving the industry forward into a new collaborative era. During 2013, we have seen them opt instead for a very different tack: embrace and lead from the front! (Cue headlines such as “openness is a critical attribute” – Ciena and “openness from the top down is critical” – Cisco).

Collaborative efforts are becoming ever more in focus, including the OpenDaylight project, ETSI’s Network Functions Virtualization Industry Specification Group, the OpenStack Foundation, the Open Networking Forum and the newly formed CloudNFV group.

All of these groups are centred on sharing wisdom and resources for the greater good, finding common solutions and working together to find better solutions for operator networks at lower prices.

opencardsToo good to be true? Perhaps. But by placing themselves at the forefront of the new revolution, traditional vendors are maximising the chance of being able to retain existing operator loyalty whilst transforming themselves into all-encompassing new businesses which can cater for all.

So is collaboration among vendors a permanent new way of being? And can the traditional vendors survive?

Well for as long as they continue to be show themselves as co-operative and responsive to operator needs, they certainly stand a chance…

The theme of Openness is a key subject at this year’s Broadband World Forum, taking place in Amsterdam on 22-24 October 2013. For further information, visit http://www.broadbandworldforum.com

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