Oct 14, 2019

Why the Thomas Cook Collapse has me thinking about System Desegregation

By Michel Genard

It’s hard to imagine how a strong brand like global travel group Thomas Cook, in business since 1841, could go south so quickly.  Its value proposition was proven and real, one-stop-shopping, all-inclusive vacations, great customer support. What happened? A few things actually. First, thanks to the internet and social network, people no longer need assistance from a travel agency to get ideas and deals for their vacations. Second, while an integrated offer including travel (air, sea, and road) lodging, food and entertainment is great, people want freedom to mix and match and create their own package. Essentially its value proposition became their enemy, and the foundation of the business didn’t allow it to evolve.

The Thomas Cook collapse had me thinking about how the OT/Embedded world is evolving.

OEM’s and Tier 1’s across all industries don’t want vendor lock-in anymore, and industry initiatives whether open source software/hardware, FACE, OPAF, Adaptive AUTOSAR are all about enabling interoperability and freedom to change a sub system without having to support a high cost of redesign. Regarding the architecture of a system, the concept of system desegregation is getting significant traction in 5G (O-RAN) and in industrial (OPAF). System desegregation means decoupling the system in small segments with a well-defined API so you can better virtualize the function and choose the best supplier for the function.

This shift is inevitable and it’s just a matter of time before it will become material in the different market segments. If you are a “box” maker and are capturing value by selling a vertically integrated solution, you certainly want to make sure that the underlying infrastructure (i.e., operating systems like VxWorks and Wind River Linux) will provide you with a path to evolve. Whether you’re a telco operator or in IIoT, you are likely already considering system desegregation and decoupling and are looking at fabric like Titanium or container-based Linux.

Welcome to a new world!

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