If we take a helicopter view of the telco industry infrastructure, in some ways it’s pretty difficult to find something interesting to predict about OSS. We can argue about the likely speed of change and some of the nuances of progressive technologies and the challenges they present but in general it’s pretty hard to dispute the reality of change and the impact it will have. Capacity, speed, data volumes and network complexity (in this case meaning OSS complexity) will upsurge. Addressing those challenges will likely change telco priorities (and application investment patterns too).
It could be argued that one outcome of all this will be the rise of “homogenous” software; that is an end to Use Case-specific supporting applications in favour of a broader or more adaptable approach to problem solving technologies. Given the endless array of business and operational support systems in the data center; sometimes literally hundreds of applications fulfilling identical functions for different lines-of-business (does anyone out there have ONE billing system or ONE inventory management system for instance?) this might be no bad thing.
On one level, you could argue that the sort of application function convergence I’m hinting at mirrors what on a subliminal level is already happening in practice. Think of it like this: If I explicitly take steps to enhance operational performance, aren’t I also implicitly taking steps to improve subscriber experience? And if I take steps to quickly remedy issues experienced by disatissfied customers then am I not implicitly enhancing operational performance? You could-though I won’t-throw BSS applications into this mix too; enhanced billing system performance is de facto a forward-step in customer care, isn’t it?
Anyway, the blue-sky thinking in all this is why the telco data centre has evolved in such an unweildy way, to support so many identical applications. We hear endless refrains about ROI and limited funds available for OSS and BSS investments yet these sit in the face of a reality hallmarked by poor decision-making. I mean, if you do have 50+ billing systems or inventory management systems (and many do), something somewhere can’t be right, can it? Or was there a desire to end up with such a situation? I thought the maxim was “when in a hole, stop digging”.
The short term fix to the managerial requirements of complex, hybrid service delivery networks lies mainly in deploying the right integration and management applications but the longer-term fix has to lie in streamlining the evolution of telco management infrastructure towards multi-purpose software that doesn't explicitly distinguish between functional Use Cases. The time will come when CSPs think in terms of investing in supporting technologies that enable them to address big issues; not tightly walled Use Cases one-by-one. When this happens, data centre complexity will be reduced and performance and effectiveness enhanced.
This is really the point about data integration and management technology. It doesn’t have much to do with separate Use Cases. Carriers who can see the big picture have an inset advantage over those who can only see the Use Case immediately to hand. Why invest in solving one problem when one investment can be leveraged to address many? And is able to reduce cost and complexity at the same time?
If the future imitates the past and infrastructure management doesn’t develop along new lines then CSPs risk reversing into the future. And it’s hard to imagine anyone thinks reverse gear is an ideal way to move forward.
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