Translation Please

Yes, But Does It Scale?

11/16/2009 1:09 PM

In combing through pages of notes from CTAM Summit and SCTE
Cable-Tec Expo, one word popped up over and over (and over).

Scale.

Examples: “What EBIF will give us is scale.” “We have to scale
and get more and more DVRs out there.” “Part of my job is, I’m supposed to make
it scale.”

And, my personal favorite, “Even if you dual stack or single
stack your mail servers, many of these spam mitigation techniques, especially
if you’re depending on an IP address, don’t scale
so well.”

Scale, in the context of a consolidated industry operating
in compressed times, is about the peace of mind that comes with knowing you can
get enough materials, from suppliers who aren’t going to do something crazy — like
go away, or be gobbled up by a “frenemy.” It means deployable to millions of
customers.

The components of “scale” usually include cost, physical
space requirements, and the ability to nestle comfortably and quickly into data
center workflows, like provisioning and billing.

Here’s an example. You’re hot with a new service that will
assuredly stuff gobs of cash into everyone’s pockets. Giddy with the
possibilities, you find a way into your cable partner of interest, to lay out
the plan.

On your end, let’s say you need at least one digital, 6 MHz
chunk of shelf space. You need a corner in the headend, for your racks of gear.
You’re pretty sure you can link to the provisioning system, as long as it’s
similar to how you wrote yours. You’ll have just a scant impact on billing. And
you’ll figure out a way to make sure field techs and care reps are nurtured
(just as soon as you find someone to put together some documentation.)

Uh-oh. Before you even pull out the laptop with the slide
presentation, you’ve struck out. Twice.

Hey! At least you have the gobs of cash. If you’d polished your
product as a churn reducer (as its major feature), you’d still be waiting for
the meeting.

As a fallback position, there’s always the other kind of
scale, which always comes to mind around the major Eating Holidays. (Which kick
off next week, unless you count Halloween.) Tipping the scale in that sense can
usually be remedied on the treadmill.

As for this other kind of scale: It’s a front-of-mind
ingredient for everything that needs to happen, from here on out. May yours be palatable.