When I think of Silver, Gold or Platinum, I think of categories of frequent fliers--but that nomenclature has made its way into networking as well, as a way for carriers to describe the class of service assigned to MPLS traffic.
The frequent flier analogy vis-à-vis MPLS brings to mind that George Clooney movie "Up in the Air," where he portrayed a road warrior obsessed with hitting the one million mile mark. The funny thing nowadays about being Silver, Gold, or Platinum is that it has nothing to do with what you paid for the ticket, it’s about how much you fly. Paying more for a seat doesn’t get a person from point A to B any quicker, so if speed was the only criterion, no one would ever ride first class.
In the movie, Clooney’s character was a "hired gun" who went into companies and fired people, up to 100 in a single day, as part of corporate restructurings and layoffs. The irony was that eventually this man was himself made obsolete by technology. People were now being "tele-sacked" (to coin a new term) as telepresence technology was used to give people the bad news.
I was recently looking at the "Silver, Gold, and Platinum" CoS options from a number of telecom carriers and it reminded me of the complexity of airline fares. If you were a Z fare, you could upgrade to first class for $50 but if you were a V fare, it would cost you $250. And if you wanted an extra carry-on bag in first class, well, that would be another $50. I have to wonder: with all the "hidden fares" that some telcos are building into their MPLS pricing, are they driving away customers?
If the Internet has taught us one thing, it is that people want simplicity: a pricing plan that is easy to understand and plan for. A Fortune 500 IT executive has a hard enough time predicting what other functional executives might need from IT in the next 3, 6, or 12 months. Wouldn’t life be easier if an MPLS carrier didn’t charge for CoS? That would allow an IT department to instantly reclassify and prioritize traffic according to business application needs without having to first negotiate a new contract or place a new order with a telco.
If enterprises had to pay by the byte for the Internet when it became commercialized, it never would have taken off. I kinda feel that way about Unified Communications. I mean, if I assigned my email to the “real-time” queue of my network, I would be defeating the purpose of QoS. There is no “agency conflict”--as business theorists would call it--with free CoS, A telco and its customer’s interests are aligned—so why would a telco discourage it’s adoption?