It was as a twenty-something moving from the Southeast US to Madison, Wis., that I finally saw the picturesque farms of my childhood storybooks. I wasn't lacking exposure to farmland -- I'd seen plenty of tobacco, corn and soybean fields in Kentucky and North Carolina, and my share of chicken farms in eastern shore Maryland.
What made Wisconsin farms different were the silos, stationed next to every barn, storing feed for cattle and dairy cows. Tall silos weren't a feature of the farms I'd seen in person growing up and they added a different, more picturesque element to the view of a farm.
Today, of course, when I hear any discussion of silos, it is in a very different and very negative context. Silos are the bane of the existence of telecom service providers. They serve -- as Joni Mitchell once said of clouds -- to block the sun, if you assume that sunlight is gleaming down on new services and revenues.
In the telecom world, silos divide job functions, technologies, customer sets and service types in a way that is fine for rolling out new services and upgrades at the typical three-year cycles of the past, but impossibly inflexible for the required new service speeds of the future.
Every service provider wants to rid its operation of silos set up to support a set of services or created around a particular part of the operation or a particular vendor's equipment. Moving from vertical silos to a more horizontal model is one rallying cry, creating a DevOps approach is another way of basically saying the same thing.
But silos were created for a reason by telecom network operators, just as they exist on some farms for a reason, and getting rid of them is a difficult process in itself, especially since silos within the telecom environment are very much built of people, not just processes and equipment.
Over the next few months, The New IP is going to be digging into this issue much more deeply, looking at the approaches that network operators are taking and exploring key issues: whether silo-busting is a process in and of itself, whether it happens simultaneously to introduction of virtualization or comes later, the best practices for silo-busting -- if such things exist -- and, hopefully, some closer looks at processes that work.
If you have ideas or questions to share on this topic, feel free to reach out directly to either me or Elizabeth Miller Coyne, editor of The New IP, as we pursue the industry's best experts and most battle-scarred veterans of the silo wars.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading