By Amir Mehmood, Director, Global Presales Team, Optiva • November 22, 2021
Amir has 15+ years of diverse experience in the telecom industry. He has worked for leading vendors and has a proven track record of sales and services delivery to a wide range of CSPs across all regions. He is a trusted advisor and subject matter expert on BSS/OSS solutions. He is a keen advocate for telcos to embrace cloud-native technologies to accelerate the digital transformation journeys of CSPs.
The (not so) good old days
In the mid-2000s, I remember delivering a project called “26-CRs” for a charging solution to a large tier-1 Asian CSP, where many of the requirements never made it to an effective commercial launch. This was not a one-time situation.
Traditionally, at that time, CSPs created differentiation by offering specific pricing/bundle/product behavior, which was developed with complex requirements. CSPs invested heavily in highly customized BSS solutions that answered their business requirements and hopefully would meet customer needs. This was crucial to gain market share and increase revenue, but it ended up in long-running and expensive projects involving regular time-consuming IT development and support. Monolithic BSS applications took months to roll out an update to ensure compatibility with all existing customizations.
In their requirements, e.g., in the RFP process, CSPs specified hundreds of detailed use cases and functional requirements. Often, a feature became irrelevant by the time it was ready for launch because the competition had already launched a similar or better offering. Therefore, traditional BSS impacted CSPs’ agility to faster rollouts of new features and products, and added a huge IT development cost burden, thus, their competitiveness in the market was negatively impacted.
Then came the era of the “waterfall vs. agile” discussion to reduce time-to-market (TTM) and adapt requirements based on market dynamics.
CSP’s BSS requirements approach has changed
Over the years, as telecommunications technology evolved from 2G to 5G and traditional BSS turned out to be complex and inflexible, CSPs found it difficult to maintain the approach and keep up with quickly changing digital customer requirements.
Today, for CSPs, the capability and functionality of a BSS solution are mostly commoditized as CSPs’ offers become more common and simplified (with CSPs having just several main offerings to the market). CSPs are searching for a higher degree of agility and the ease of configuring BSS in real-time without the need for heavy customizations and delivery, engaging their IT team, focusing on flexibility, and faster time-to-market.
CSPs see cloud-based BSS solutions as the answer to orchestrate their customer engagements and delivery of their services in the future. They are leveraging cloud-based technologies and methodologies such as microservices, CI/CD, Devops, automation-driven testing frameworks, AI, etc. to accelerate time-to-market, reduce TCO, and deliver superior customer experience. Let’s see how they are achieving this.
CSPs are opting for lightweight applications based on containers and microservices that can achieve high-packing density in a single VM. An efficient application utilizes significantly less hardware footprint and is horizontally scalable. This helps reduce operational costs and overall total cost of ownership (TCO).
CSPs are looking to leverage DevOps and CI/CD pipelines, which ensure faster, swift, and more consistent delivery. They are also exploring automated testing frameworks, having thousands of predefined test use cases, which enable them to dramatically decrease the testing period and manual operational resources required to support them.
CSPs are also thinking of a user-friendly and highly configurable solution, so they can optimize IT resource utilization and save costs rather than depleting them on less valuable training and IT support operations.
The BSS sourcing process has also evolved due to the above and the need to adapt to cloud-native technologies. In recent processes, we see that new BSS RFPs are not loaded with 1000s of functional requirements. Instead, the RFPs have become more use-case oriented. The focus has shifted from WHAT to HOW in asking the bidder to demonstrate how they intend to comply with the use cases. It is also expected that the response will be more descriptive rather than providing simple compliance. CSPs want to evaluate solutions based on a proof of concept instead of theoretical responses. While this is mostly the trend in Tier-1/2, other tiers are also expected to follow the curve.
And the vendors? They are focusing on the underlying cloud foundation
Vendors are talking about “cloud-native” as the key to answering all needs. They are developing infra-agnostic solutions, so CSPs can deploy and manage solutions on the platforms of their choice, ranging from hyperscalers and private clouds to hybrid and edge deployments scenarios.
They also keep their product roadmaps for next-gen BSS solutions dynamic, so their mid-to long-term investments are spent in the right areas based on the fast-evolving market trends.
Driving innovation in BSS solutions — the key for CSPs to gain a competitive edge
Although it’s easier said than done, CSPs are now searching for ways to experiment more with 5G and IoT cases. They are also looking to monetize new business and commercial models from over-the-top (OTT) to B2B2X.
To answer these expectations, CSPs need to extend their requirements beyond cloud-native and ask vendors to take a new approach to their solution management.
Shift to centrally managed and fully productized solutions backed by a rich set of OOTB functionality. This will allow a more streamlined delivery, reduce cost for setup, and enable CSPs to launch fast and gain market share (especially for 5G stacks).
Support low/no-code configuration to allow CSPs further flexibility in their exploration of new services and commercial models.
Create a constant flow of innovation in the areas of monetization features, digital experience, and usability while keeping a continuous alignment with standardization. This requires end-to-end automation in terms of software development to deployment on production through DevOps practice and CI/CD pipeline implementation.
Provide new commercial models for the solutions, e.g., subscription-based, pay-per-use, etc. These are especially relevant to green-field MVNO/MVNE start-up operators to reduce initial investment with ZERO CAPEX and reduce risk.
Optiva has been investing heavily over the last three years to implement these new approaches into its products, development process, and delivery methods, and we are currently implementing them in recent installations on public and private clouds.
Have feedback or questions for the author? Contact
Amir Mehmood, Director,
Global Presales Team, Optiva
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