To remain competitive, Communications Service Providers (CSPs) must take a holistic view of how they will achieve the business and technical agility and flexibility to continue to compete effectively. The need to launch new types of services, based on new business models, on multiple platforms and in multiple industries necessitates a need to review, renew and transform OSS/BSS to increase the flexibility and reduce time to market.
BSS systems (typically including billing and CRM), have always been separate from OSS systems (such as resource management, service activation, provisioning, fault management, etc.), which included having separate business processes and people. Over the years IT infrastructures have evolved into expensive, complex collections of monolithic applications interconnected with specially built point-to-point interfaces. A highly adaptable and flexible OSS architecture is also the key enabler for more streamlined operations.Alongside the migration to a Service-oriented Architecture (SOA), the most significant new demands on OSS/BSS technologies come from the need to capture and integrate various sources of information as service providers introduce new blended services. Rather than tracking and fulfilling dedicated services in a siloed manner, OSS/BSS systems will need to take into consideration key operational and business variables as services are poured into a melting pot and served to customers in a converged package.
The Transformation Journey
The transformation to the next generation OSS is an evolution not revolution because the current OSS systems are crucial for the operation of a network they cannot be replaced overnight. The transformation and migration will need to happen gradually, making the challenge even greater – old systems cannot be turned off before new systems are in place. A solid transformation strategy is based on SOA and ETOM principles to enable faster and more efficient service cycle times for new products and services.
Start with EA ( Enterprise Architecture ) process
EA is intended to bridge the gap between strategic planning and implementation efforts. To bridge that gap requires a process that is holistic : the process must cover the impact of strategic business change on technology, business processes and information. The recommended approach to enterprise architecture ( EA) unifies three fundamental practices: business architecture, technology architecture and information architecture. EA is intended to broadly influence and support investment decisions and organizational change.A properly resourced and well-run EA program is essential to achieving and communicating the promised benefits.
Using SOA (service oriented architecture) :
The IT industry has embraced the concept of a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) as a standardized, more efficient way to build enterprise IT infrastructures. SOA, together with a revised enterprise business process, is the right way to build BSS and OSS applications, because it supports more agile internal operations, enables interoperability among new applications, and can be used to leverage existing BSS and OSS assets by adapting them to the SOA model.
Define an Architectural Vision :
The architectural vision is formulated, to act as a beacon guiding decisions during the rest of system structuring. Architecting the future state of EA is the heart of the entire process. The goal is to translate business strategy into a set of prescriptive guidance to be used by the organization (business and IT) in projects that implement change. Enterprises can engage in different types of strategic business visioning. One of the goals of business strategy is to strike a balance between long-term strategy (traditional strategic planning) and the strategies to be pursued as a result of a short-term opportunity
Applying E TOM and NGOSS
eTOM is part of the New Generation Operations Systems and Software (NGOSS) standard, developed by the Tele Management Forum (TM Forum). NGOSS is a comprehensive, integrated framework for developing, procuring, and deploying operations and business support systems (OSSs/BSSs) and software. It is available as a toolkit of industry-agreed specifications and guidelines that cover key business and technical areas including:
• eTOM Business Process Map: An industry-agreed set of integrated business process descriptions, created with today’s customer-centric market in mind, used for mapping and analyzing operational processes.
• Shared Information/Data (SID) Model: Comprehensive, standardized information definitions acting as the common language for all data to be used in NGOSS-based applications. A common information language is the linchpin in creating easy-to-integrate software solutions.
• Technology Neutral Architecture: Key architectural guidelines and specifications to ensure high levels of flow through amongst diverse systems and components.
• Compliance and Conformance Criteria: Guidelines and tests to ensure that systems defined and developed utilizing NGOSS specifications will interoperate.
• Lifecycle and Methodology: Processes and artifacts that allow developers and integrators to use the toolset to develop NGOSS-based solutions employing a standard approach.
In 2008, Belgacom launched a Business Transformation programme with the objective to implement a new operational model for the group at the 2016 horizon. The expected business benefits are quantified via measurable indicators (KGI/KPI) mapped to the components of the model and are enabled by a major evolution of the BSS & OSS platforms. The TM Forum Solution Frameworks NGOSS framework, tuned to the Belgacom model and needs, helped Business & IT together aligning the B/OSS roadmaps to the benefits.
How to Align the BSS / OSS to Enterprise Architecture
Transforming OSS/BSS platforms and partially rebuilding with more modern and harmonized platform components leads to considerable savings in the long run: reductions in time, effort and costs spent on system integration, administration, maintenance and training. An ideal vision of harmonized OSS architecture is inspired by the TMF Lean Operator Initiative and based on four key areas:
• CSP’s process architecture: The CSPs’ business processes can be supported by introducing modifiable operator process templates out-of-the-box and enabling a higher level of automation in their daily routines.
• Common information architecture: stepping away from “stove piped” data and supporting shared information and data models. This enables OSS/BSS level application interoperability through Common Information Models.
• Modular application architecture: will bridge the gap between service and resource management applications. A high level of modularity allows flexible solution building: it enables easier maintenance, allows changes on one component without affecting others and allows new components to be added as required.
• Application integration architecture: Interoperability and time to market is improved through compatible interfaces, common information models and through leveraging partner ecosystems and productized adaptation libraries.
There is no doubt that the major challenge for CSPs today is providing higher value for end users while facing constant, intense cost pressures and operating in often complex value networks. Transforming OSS/BSS platforms and partially rebuilding with more modern and harmonized platform components leads to considerable savings in the long run: reductions in time, effort and costs spent on system integration, administration, maintenance and training.
To keep leadership in the Brazilian market, NET had to improve its technology platform, transform its operational processes and change its field services operation. Challenges included the adoption of a field force management system by a distributed organization. The key success factors included: clear strategy/ business requirements , prioritizing the deployment of capacities, well defined governance structure , pragmatic planning/management methodology amd the choice of a field force management solution. The BSS / OSS transformation journey results included OPEX reduction, improved technology, better services, a new set of performance indicators and a better experience for customers.
The new, digitally connected world is driving transformation, bringing with it new players, advanced applications, broadband services and higher QoS demands. Seizing this transformation by making your business and technology evolution work together is the key to profiting from market changes.BT has undergone a major transformation and continues to change. What was a traditional networks-focused, telco R&D organisation is now a ‘softco’, centred on developing software and using software development methodologies and practices. At the same time, networks and computing are quickly converging into what we know as cloud computing. Not surprisingly, BT’s continuing transformation is now addressing the cloud services market.
According to the TM Forum, every dollar spent on traditional approaches to OSS application development results in as much as $5 USD (€3.37) of integration activities to address the impact on all related systems and networks. Properly implemented, next-generation OSS applications will reduce the integration costs. But even more beneficial, the more modern OSS applications will leverage commodity hardware and software and expand reuse of services. This will reduce both CAPEX and OPEX loads on the balance sheet.
Sadiq Malik ( Telco Strategist )
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