LONDON -- Telecom companies often talk about skills gaps and how the lack of IT talent can slow them down. But as Chris Kenyon, senior vice president of Canonical's cloud division, noted here recently, in the software world, bigger teams aren't always better -- or faster.
Speaking at Light Reading's OSS in the Era of SDN & NFV event, Kenyon noted that when many people think about WhatsApp, the mobile messaging start-up that swept in and decimated mobile messaging revenue for network operators, they focus on the $19 billion the company owners got when they were acquired by Facebook.
"For me the most interesting number about WhatsApp isn't $19 billion, it was 32," Kenyon said. "That was the number of developers and operations staff at WhatsApp had at the point of that acquisition. They had 560 million subscribers doing text, voice and they were just about to launch video. So that's one developer and operator for every 14 million subscribers."
At that rate, he added, a network operator such as AT&T would be allowed eight developers and operators for its text messaging, voice and video.
"What should shock you is not the cost savings -- you can get very distracted by that," Kenyon said. "The interesting point is if you are in software development, you can go an order of magnitude faster [with 32 people] than team of 320."
Canonical Ltd. executive went on to challenge the telecom operators assembled for the event to stop thinking about launching new features twice a week and start setting more web-scale equivalent goals.
"At Netflix -- they doing a thousand new features a day," he said. "They have a [platform] that is resilient enough that if someone puts out a bad piece of code, it will get rejected quickly."
Kenyon knows what he's talking about when he mentions
Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), because it runs on Ubuntu, which Canonical produces and commercially supports, as does Instagram, Uber and Pinterest. And as he noted, Canonical now brings that expertise to the telecom realm, focusing on delivering a virtualized infrastructure manager (VIM) and a generic virtual network functions (VNF) manager.
In three years, Canonical has been able to gain major traction in the telecom space, serving as the platform for AT&T's Integrated Cloud and more recently winning the contract for DT's PanNet.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading