We’ve just had the 13th ITSF conference (International Telecom Synchronization Forum) in Edinburgh.
The conference was the biggest so far with over 170 people attending.
One of the big topics this year was oscillators. Strangely, for something so fundamental to timing and synchronization equipment, the conference has never attracted much interest from the oscillator vendors (with one or two exceptions). Now it seems everyone is bringing something new, from ultra-high precision optical clocks, through new miniature atomic oscillators, to the humble quartz crystal. This can only be good for the ability to deliver the kind or precise, reliable time that industries are asking for now.
Another subject starting to get attention is “Network Functions Virtualization” or NFV. This is just a fancy term for the trend for everything that used to be hardware to become software. The marketing gurus tell us that this is the latest trend, and the telecoms industry must embrace it to remain profitable. Synchronization is just an enabling technology, and cannot be allowed to stand in the way of progress. The problem is that synchronization relies on very precise physical signals. It is difficult to see how this can be abstracted into the software domain without losing precision. Still, the same thing was said about packet-based synchronisation 10 years ago, and that has become commonplace. This will be an interesting topic to watch.
To reflect the increasing diversity of the conference, ITSF will rename itself to the “International Timing and Synchronization Forum”. Next November it will meet in Prague, the home of the oldest working astronomical clock in the world, the “Pražský orloj”.
Hope to see you there!