“Softwarization”: a systemic change. Guest Blog from Antonio Manzalini, Telecom Italia

“Softwarization” is a global trend appearing under the form of several technologies and models, such as Cloud Computing, Edge-Fog Computing, SDN, NFV…, sharing the same common denominator: “functions and services can be executed as applications onto logical resources dynamically in (low cost) distributed hardware”. Decoupling hardware from software, virtualization, programmability.

This is the essence of a “game-changer” which is bringing, in a few years, far-reaching implications in the Digital Society and Economy. Not new ideas, but a new context, now sustainable given the lowering of technology costs.

It’s a huge and borderless wave of innovation, not only concerning technology, but also socio-economic and business sustainability and regulatory rules.

We’re living in a small world and the systemic interdependencies of the multiple variables of our Society and Economy are creating the conditions for rapid changes, once reached certain the tipping points. We’re approaching one of these tipping points for Telecommunications and ICT domains, and probably for several other Industries subjected to “Softwarization”. Like in any “complex system”, even small changes in the so-called “control variables”, could produce sudden and highly impactful changes in the overall system.

So it makes sense, looking for the “control variables” of “Softwarization” in order to understand and possibly predict when and how this “phase transition” will occur, and, above all, what will be the global picture of the Economy scenario after said transition, and what transformation is required to be a winner.

In this analysis, we should be able to “extract simplicity from the appearing complexity”. The number of control variable should be limited enough, but complete, to cover most (if not all) the dynamics of the socio-economic environment subjected to “Softwarization”. This is my guess:

1. Hardware equation: chipsets performances/costs curve (IT servers, terminals, etc);
2. Open Source Software: viral diffusion of solutions for production environment;
3. Performances: increasing of bandwidth, towards zero-application latency…;
4. Standards-de-facto: winner will take all (market will decide);
5. Reason why: solving Grand Challenges of Society, improving quality of life, optimizing costs and increasing revenues, creating new forms of jobs…replacing the lost ones;
6. Rules of the game: what regulation environment for a sustainable development;
7. Level of trustiness: dependability, security, privacy…

There might be also others, obviously, with non-linear dependencies with these ones.

My take is that there will be two main classes of strategies to surf this huge wave of innovation: a red ones and a blue ones. The former class is about “inertial” evolution, the latter one concerns its “disruptive adoption”. But this will food for thought in my next post

Guest blog provided by Antonio Manzalini, Telecom Italia – Innovation & Industry Relations / Future Centre


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