“Information modeling is the essence of what we do”
NETWORK MINING and NETWORK DISCOVERY are part of our DNA. Joining different international associations has direct benefits. Since November 2020, MERKATOR has become an active member of the Open Networking Foundation or ONF. What is ONF? Which added value will this association bring to MERKATOR ? Leo Nederlof explains it all to you. Enjoy reading! SOME HISTORY Telecommunnication before ‘90. Standardization in telecommunications has always been essential, ever since the first international telephone lines were installed. Traditionally this was done by the historical telephone companies, joining in what is now called the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), where new technologies were evaluated and poured into standards. Those standards were then implemented in equipment and subsequently installed in networks. This was a slow process, which was not helped by the fact that the telephone companies were mostly state-owned monopolies with no competitive pressure to bring down prices or improve the quality of their services. Thus it took about 20 to 30 years before developments like fiber optic communication and digital telephony found their way from the labs into the real World. Telecommunication is constantly changing . The www of the 90s must have been groundbreaking here, right? Indeed, in the 1990s everything changed when the Internet and the World Wide Web created an exponential growth in the traffic demand, and was key in the disruptive shift from voice to data traffic. At the same time, national and international deregulation introduced heavy competition and investments in the markets for telecommunications around the world. Afterwards, different operators came onto the market? How did they deal with this diversification of data? All the new operators did not want to wait another 20 or 30 years for standards before they could use the latest technologies to provide high capacities and to improve their operational efficiency, so they just bought and installed new equipment that was on the market. They still recognized the need for standardization, and various forums and associations were formed in which operators and equipment vendors agreed in an often informal way on how to use the new technologies. Speed and capacity became more important. Where does standardization play an important role? The main area of advancement in the past decades has been the increase in speed and capacity. The next area that is currently in focus is what is called network disaggregation, to support software-defined networking or SDN. Until now, human intervention is needed to supply capacity to places in the network when and where needed, for example for large events that require live TV coverage and where many mobile users generate streaming data. These human actions are performed on network management systems (NMS) - centralized software applications that are supplied by the equipment vendors, which communicate with their own equipment only to implement the changes in the network. In SDN, these decisions and actions are taken by a software application called an SDN Orchestrator, and the role of the NMS is performed by an SDN Controller. Then of course the communication with all the equipment throughout the network must be standardized. What is the main objective of the Open Network Foundation or ONF ? Taking everything one step further, the equipment hardware becomes a ‘white box’ on which you can run your own software for example to set up individual connections or do monitoring. That is one of the objectives of the ONF. By bringing different initiatives together and create consensus over different protocols and standards. Network Mining and Information Modeling. Two terms that belong inseparably together? As Network Mining, Information Modeling is the essence of what we do, since we bring together network inventory and configuration data from different network management systems in a unified data model, as a basis for all sorts of reporting, analysis and simulations. By adopting and promoting the use of the information model of the ONF we can position ourselves at the core of an industry-wide development that is reshaping the way in which networks are being built and operated. As an active member we can participate in the definition process rather than being a follower. Why is joining ONF so important for MERKATOR? With our 15 years of insight and experience we can contribute to the further development of the information model, to make sure that it evolves in a direction that aligns with our strategic objectives. At the same time, by participating in ONF meetings and events we gain exposure to potential customers and partners, many of which are also members of ONF. Leo is part of Merkator’s Network Mining business unit which focuses on the dynamic inventory of all active components. The Network Mining business has been part of Merkator since April 2018. The Company is a frontrunner where workflows of your active network components touch the passive network components of your fiber infrastructures.