Over the past few years, CableLabs has been cooking up information models for the cable operator industry that are designed to provide commonality across the various technologies and systems.
CableLabs chief technology officer Ralph Brown said the data information architecture seeks to integrate the different networks and systems into a common platform that will improve the rate of innovation and provide a seamless experience.
“I think we know that throughout all of the systems that support these networks integration becomes a huge, huge problem,” Brown said. “Whether it’s a billing system, a provisioning system, a new network operating system; all of these sorts of things speak different languages. In other words they talk about a customer differently. How they describe a customer is different. They talk about equipment and resources in the network differently. They don’t have a common language. They don’t use a common data model. We’ve been really working on leveraging some standards that exist not only in the cable industry but in the larger telecommunications industry to build a synthesized and integrated data model that is implementable.
“Using these data models, I can drive out standard interfaces so that when I bring a new system on board I can say ‘You have to speak this language. You have to talk about a customer this way. You have to talk about resources this way. You have to talk about services this way.’”
While IP is the end game down the road, cable operators are currently working to break down the silos and integrate across the HFC, fiber, Wi-Fi, and hybrid networks for business and residential customers. The data information architecture is a roadmap for integrating onto an overall service strategy and architecture.
“There’s a very rich data model underneath all of that,” Brown said “Now my integration becomes much more manageable because I don’t have to do all of this mapping from one data model to another model. If a piece of information didn’t fit then you would have breakage that crosses that interface. It’s a very challenging area.”
Brown said that by using a model similar to previous CableLabs efforts, such as DOCSIS and PacketCable, vendors could build to a defined standard or common way of doing things.
“Then we will really have significantly advantaged the opportunity for cable operators to make best of breed choices about the systems they bring into their networks,” he explained. “We are now getting to the point where we have a fair number of vendors and a fair number of our members engaged so it’s really at the stage where we’re beginning to get some scale.”