Joe Rostock, Vice President & Chief Technologist, ATIS
Having spent over 25 years working for Verizon, most recently as an Executive Director and Senior Fellow where he helped shape the telco's cloud business and technology strategy, Joe Rostock has driven plenty of emerging technology initiatives. In his role as Vice President and Chief Technologist at ATIS (Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions), which he took on in October 2011, he's overseeing the Cloud Services Forum (CSF) and Content Distribution Network- Interconnection (CDN-I) initiatives. FierceTelecom editor Sean Buckley caught up with Rostock to discuss these emerging initiatives and how they are helping to drive elegant interconnection and application development.
FierceTelecom: Let's start with an update on the progress ATIS has made with the Cloud Services Forum (CSF) and Content Distribution Network-Interconnection (CDN-I) since it was launched last year. Where are you at with the effort?
Joseph Rostock: Overall, everything has gone well. The CDN-I work was really groundbreaking in terms of how operators can interconnect capabilities in ways they weren't able to before. The CDN-I work was the foundation for that. As the year has progressed, we have moved up the stack so to speak. We're beyond the core network integration stage and we're moving up into application services such as telepresence in the cloud. That's the path we've been following. Starting with the core interconnection of networks and then as the sophistication evolves, the question is what else are carriers going to integrate with and that is of course the application services up the stack.
FT: You mentioned applications. What will be the key application work you're looking at or is that an evolving concept?
JR: It is evolving. Telepresence got everyone thinking above the network layer. That one is probably the hottest applications in terms of application interoperability between operators. The reason that one is interesting is that it solves for a lot of issues. It solves for what are platform-specific issues in the industry. We all know that interoperability across platforms and networks is clumsy and difficult to establish. We're solving for that in taking a cloud approach to implementing telepresence. We all know that very little of what's offered today with telepresence is cloud-enabled. We're solving for that because the operators ultimately are going to want to evolve with their own clouds not by buying multiple platforms--that's the sweet spot here.
We're also solving for the cloud interoperability that operators are also going to have to solve for as well. A lot of the capabilities offered by operators today as it relates to cloud are in-region and are directed at their own customers. As the work evolves, and we're seeing a good example of this with telepresence and other media solutions, customers are going to need to roam across clouds and the communications industry has an opportunity to do that in a very sophisticated way that will be a lot different than the over the top (OTT) players.
Our focus is to look at not just the core interoperability at the core network level, but moving up the stack by looking at the services that need to interoperate across operator clouds. As time moves on we'll be looking at all other types of media, whether its voice and all of the other types of protocols associated with media integration like rights management.
FT: One of the interesting trends we're starting to see with the likes of Verizon and Sprint, for example, is the concept of wholesale cloud services. Do you think ATIS' cloud work addresses that trend?
JR: It absolutely does. Generally, the types of services that are being sold wholesale today are core infrastructure and compute cycle and some basic applications, but they're really not interoperable applications. Basically, the wholesale offering is the operator reselling a piece of infrastructure, and they're not moving it across clouds. They're really just simply reselling it to someone at a lower price point. What we're moving toward is the ability for them to wholesale a more sophisticated set of services along the lines of media and along the lines of rights management.
FT: Speaking of telepresence, we're seeing lots of service providers establish one-off pacts to connect their telepresence capabilities that, for example, allow a BT customer to operate on a Verizon network. Can your group help enable those efforts?
JR: Yes. I consider those kinds of efforts more go-to-market consortia arrangements. They're really about enabling capabilities across providers but doing it in a way that takes advantage of features that already exist. They're really taking the heavy lifting away from the customer and figuring out a way to call it a managed service.
Those are very strategic go to market initiatives, but really what we're looking at is more of an elegant technology-driven approach where you don't have to assemble these big complex relationships to configure and reconfigure networks based on what customers need. It would happen a lot more elegantly. When the interconnection occurs, it happens in a way that's graceful and won't require the heavy lifting that a lot of these consortia currently drive.
FT: You're also targeting the cloud-based CDN issues with the CDN-I initiatives. What has been the feedback from CDN and traditional service providers thus far?
JR: The initial feedback we're getting is of incredible value. For the first time they have a framework to think about the repeatable task of interconnecting networks. Before, they were one-offs and everyone figures it out, but that's very laborious and is not cost effective for operators and providers. This grounds the work in a way that's common in terms of the technologies that are available and it gives them a repeatable method for implementation.
FT: How does the device (BYOD) concept in the enterprise affect security and other issues in an enterprise's cloud network implementation?
JR: A lot of the work that goes on in cloud will have liaisons with other entities within ATIS that look at topics associated with a given topic like security. As the work evolves, the Cloud Services Forum will work with other forums in ATIS to address these issues.
The example you gave is a good one because the device work is being done in our Technology and Operations (TOPS) Council in a program called Unifying Client Architecture. The whole purpose of that is specific to how communications and media become more ingrained in the device itself, such that it's not just riding on top of the network but there's a more sophisticated integration with the device itself that takes advantage of network features such as security and session control.
FT: Looking forward, can you talk about a bit more about the future releases of CDN-I?
JR: It's deeper sophistication at the network level, including multicast. It will be more of that. Most importantly, I think what is in the future will be more up-the-stack services that customers will want interoperability across providers for.
All of the things that you consume as a business or consumer, you're going to want to move with it. We know that that is happening with mobile devices now and not just fixed terminals. We all know that customers move and won't be within the region of a given service provider, so all of that has to be solved. The integration across providers at an application level is really where we are headed.