Sunday, 6 July 2008

The Illusive SDP

The telecommunications industry is notorious for its (over)use of acronyms. Swimming through a sea of acronyms is a daily necessity working in the telco environment. Among the hottest swamp of acronyms at the moment is Service Delivery Platform (SDP).

In every telco tradeshows/conferences/junkets, SDP invariably pops up and people kept on boasting what wonders SDP can do to their business. Yet if you ask 10 people about what SDP is, you will get at least 11 different answers. Why? Because as of today, there is no official definition of SDP.

Looking up SDP in Wikipedia, the first thing it says about SDP is: There is no standard definition of SDP in the industry. Trying to find any SDP specifications from TeleManagement Forum (TMF), the closest thing you can get is a technical report (note, not a specification or recommendation) TR139 V1.0 - Service Delivery Framework Overview. At the end of the document (Appendix A), it says: Need to define what a Service Delivery Platform (SDP) is and how it relates to the SDF. The SDP Alliance offers nothing but piecemeal marketing slides and brochures.

You would think that by now telcos should have understood the nature of SDP and the fact that there is no official/standard definition of SDP. But no, vendors are muddying the water in this hot swamp. I have met several telcos who told me that there had been large IT or network vendors and their consultants claiming that those vendors' products/solution comply with the standard SDP specifications, and asked me how our products fit into this purported standard SDP architecture. I couldn't help telling them that labelling their so called SDP as 'standard' is like labelling a bottle of water Halal. In the end, they were happy to learn the truth.

On the other hand, I must hand it to the sales consultants from those vendors (many of them large and respectable, and therefore more harmful): it takes great courage and shamelessness to spin their own standards in this game.

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