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Home | New Service Delivery | Telemanagement Forum, Martin Creaner
Martin CreanerManaging Content

Martin Creaner, TeleManagement Forum's president talk to Intercomms about development at the organisation and the issues to be addressed at Management World Americas in November

Martin Creaner has been working and advising in the Communications Industry for 18 years and is presently President and Chief Technical Officer of the Telemanagement Forum. Prior to joining the TeleManagement Forum, Martin held a number of executive positions with BT, the major UK based European Communications Service Provider, and with Motorola, the global Wireless Networks Equipment manufacturer, where Martin led the 2.5G and 3G OSS solutions development activities. Martin sits on the board of a number of telecoms companies, and is the Chairman of Selatra Ltd., which is a java games applications service provider for the mobile marketplace.

Martin is an accomplished speaker and regularly is asked to chair or give keynote talks at leading telecommunication industry events.

Q: You've set out the task for Dallas to address the issue of Managing Content. How are you doing that?
A: Managing content is the overarching banner for that activity, but really what we are looking at is the whole content experience and how that fits into the broader telecoms value chain. We are really keen on growing the TM Forum and its relevance into a wider set of the industry. This is because we feel that these wider industries such as cable, device players and content are becoming intimately linked with the sort of business that we've traditionally been involved in. At Dallas we will continue the dialogue we have got going in those areas. The purpose of that is to increase number of content companies participating in and joining the TM Forum, building up relationships and partnerships with telecoms player and suppliers.

Q: How do the speakers and tracks at this event reflect that goal?
A: We have number of tracks running with either people from Telcos talking about the content challenges that they face or we have invited content companies to come along and talk to us about how they see themselves fitting into the overall Telecoms value chain. In our Catalyst area, we have also established the 'Content Encounter' which akin to a catalyst on steroids, totally focussed on content. We have picked a number of key scenarios that relate to the sort of content that is being put out today and the sort of content services people will want tomorrow. We will really try to focus on the management challenges of how you get that content out there and how do you assure its quality end-to-end because one of the thing that we have learned as we have been looking at how the value chain hangs together is that the content players are obsessed with the quality of their content when it reaches the end user.

Q: Aren't Telecoms providers equally as interested?
A: In all of the previous services that telecoms provides we've always been very interested in call quality and so on but it has always been to some extent quite subjective and to some extent it has always been a given that voice quality would be good enough. However when you are putting, for example a Disney movie over the telephone lines onto you computer or your television or handset, what Disney is hugely interested in is the end user experience. They quite rightly assume that if the end user isn't happy with the delivered content, at least part of their dissatisfaction will reflect directly on Disney, even if Disney is nothing to do with it. Consequently they want to be involved in that value chain. It is a question of how you get the content players into the value chain. How do you measure end-to-end quality? How do you manage the end user devices so that the end to end quality is controllable and how do you assure revenue across the value chain?

There is a huge amount of content that exists and if you are aggregating content how do you manage it in a sensible fashion so that you can rapidly assess what to do with it and how to deliver it. There is a complete management challenge of just how you manage and handle content purely within the content provider environment but within the broader-based TM Forum, our main focus is how do you manage content quality end to end.

Q: Who does your Prosspero initiative help in all this?
A: Prosspero is our mechanism for taking solid standards. Prosspero doesn't try to create the standards it helps existing ones. Take JSR 190, recently approved through the JCP process. What we will do is take that standard and put it though the Prosspero process to ensure that not only is there a good valid working specification but whether there are reference specification, testimonials from service providers and companies who have already implemented it, are there implementation guides, are there training and education, is there an ecosystems of developers are tools that support that implementation? That is the Prosspero process; to take good solid technical standards an make it easily implementable.

Q: How is it going?
A: Prospero is doing exactly what we wanted it to do. What we have done is put a number of mature standards through the Prosspero process and at we have a portal where people can not only download specifications but all of the reference implementations that are associated with that approved specification. What we have also done is build a big pipeline of stuff that is going through the Prosspero approval process. We have about twenty or so different interfaces now going through the Prosspero process that are all mapped to the Telcommunications Application Map (TAM) which defines all of the systems within a service provider environment and we have mapped many of the critical interfaces against that TAM and we are putting those through the Prosspero process. There are a lot of interfaces out there and really what Prosspero is all about is getting the industry to focus on one and use it for particular purpose.

Q: What about development of the TAM?
A: Its growing very rapidly too. We wrote version one about 18 months ago and people were biting our hand off for it although it was very much was a high level view. We released the more detailed version two about six months ago. The TAM is stable and is being fleshed out in the areas that are hot at the moment such as resources and services and there is going to be another version released in the next six months that will flesh out some of the remaining areas. One of our key efforts with the TAM is linking it in to the TM Forum's efforts on Service Delivery Frameworks. There is a huge amount of hype around IMS STP and what the TMF has done over the last nine months is to try and make sense of this hype to form a single architecture agreed between all the major players in the industry all the other industry bodies such as ETSI and the ITU. We have a High Level Architecture agreed which is known as the Service Delivery Framework (SDF). What we are doing and focussed on expanding out the TM Forum key artefacts like the TAM ETOM and SID to embrace the wider STF.

Q: What role will Super Catalysts play in the future?
A: We want to do something spectacular on the catalyst front. Not so much spectacular in terms of all the marketing hype, but to address the whole end to end challenge that the industry is facing. The first will be at Dallas, then Nice and then Orlando next year and growing all the time. It will help attendees to understand and appreciate why end to end management of content service is a huge problem that has to be addressed by the industry.

What this catalyst is trying to do is first shine a spot light on the big end to end content service management challenge and second secondly identify usable work that we can adopt and use and those areas that we need to invest a lot of time and money in. For example, take IPTV, one of the big problems we mentioned early on is that there is no way of knowing what quality you end up getting on you IPTV delivered service. I can measure the transmission characteristics of the IP pipe running to your computer and look at the jitter and delay but looking at the jitter and delay doesn't necessarily tell you what the quality is going to be like for video. The Mean Opinion Score (MOS) has been used for voice for the past 50 years to come up with some form of subjective assessment for the voice quality. There are however no companies out there who are developing automatic algorithms, to calculate the MOS for video coming in. That is important because if there is some way to manage and monitor whether the video being delivered to an individual customer is sufficiently good then if you ring in and complain about the quality we can objectively assess whether than is true. The consumer might not be happy with it but we can at least prove you are getting it. When a major European mobile operator began offering steaming video services it became known that if you rang up and told them that you were getting poor quality, they had to refund you but they had no way of knowing if quality was good or bad and it came close to withdrawing those services.

The same thing could happen with IPTV. That is just one example of why the manageability has to stretch a lot further than it has even stretched before. Now they don't just have to worry about getting the signal all the way to the device but also whether the device works and if the end user quality is of sufficiently good. Not only will the end users complain. The content provider will only allow you to deliver movies is you can guarantee that your delivered quality will reach certain criteria.

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