Insights
Media And Telecom

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Cloud Native BSS/OSS Transformation

Sanjeev Kumar
General Manager, Media and Telecom

Introduction

Communication Service Providers (CSPs) are at a key inflection point. Their customers are expecting self-service, personalized and, omni channel experiences. This calls for CSP’s to transform their entire service delivery and management infrastructure on three fronts: management of network services, operations support systems (OSS) and systems for managing the customer and the overall business operations - the business support systems (BSS). Traditionally, OSS and BSS have been essential software building blocks for the telecom industry. They are logical entities that represent a management system for telecom and networks. They comprise multiple functional blocks which includes CRM, Billing, Order Management, Network operations, provisioning, account system, service management system, and customer service system. As networks converge on IP, and business relationships and standards change, the emphasis is more on OSS and BSS than ever before. In the new telecom era the operator needs an agile OSS/BSS´ solution, with new service layer architecture and customer experience management at its core, causing a move to a network as a service where the operator can offer customized solutions and personalized customer experience.

Where current OSS and BSS fall short of delivering Business Outcomes

The legacy OSS and BSS platforms come with challenges of their own as they are not equipped to support multiple platforms or networks. They were designed to work either in a point-to-point or at best a point-to-multipoint fashion. Ensuring uniform service delivery across mobility devices through the OSS/BSS platforms remains an issue. Below are some of the key business challenges faced by CSPs:

  • Launch new services in an accelerated manner:
    Since IP convergence, competition has forced operators to introduce new services faster than operators could modernize the basic design of OSS/BSS systems. The latest advancements in digital technologies allows operators to make their networks more reliable and secure and hence improve customer experiences. Most operators realize that this network transformation should be matched with a telecom-management transformation that improves their systems, processes, and organizations.

  • Automated service fulfillment:
    Legacy OSS and BSS platforms are unable to provide user self-service features that go a long way in reducing both operating expenditure and capital expenditure costs. The inability of eliminating human intervention means higher maintenance & error prone systems.

  • Competitive differentiation:
    The above challenges imply that the platforms have hardly any competitive differentiation that makes the provider stand out in the eyes of the consumer. True differentiation can only occur if the provider can allow users to control the services that are of relevance to them.

  • Service velocity:
    With users using multiple mobility devices, OSS and BSS providers struggle with the ability to seamlessly deploy services to customers over different networks and interfaces.

  • Support the Network as a Service: 
    Current OSS/BSS´s retain a strong “workflow” orientation that comes from their history of supporting human processes — the very processes that efficient operations must swap out for network service automation. Telco’s need an BSS and OSS that could respond automatically to service, and resources required for the client.



The above challenges present a clear case for investing in and deploying new-gen OSS and BSS Platforms that can provide connectivity to the ever-growing consumer base as well as the growing line up of business devices. Not only this, the OSS and BSS providers must allow for users to bundle services as per their own unique requirements. These requirements may include services such as voice, video, data, hosting, messaging and many others and may need to be delivered in multiple locations spanning to the consumer’s home, workplace or even while they are in transit.
Cloud-native OSS and BSS have received much attention in the telecommunications industry. Though most CSPs plan to migrate their technology to the cloud, the pace is wanting. The rate of migration does not match the benefits. This is primarily because communications service providers are generally not capital-constrained and have a predictable customer base, thus stable revenues.


Benefits of adopting a Cloud Native Technology

Moving to the cloud comes with a plethora of benefits for CSPs. Some of the benefits cloud-native technologies include:

  • Faster time to market, through Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment
  • Automation of the service delivery business processes
  • Reduced cost through reusable assets and auto-scalability. Zero downtime for infrastructure resizing
  • Multiple zone availability, to have low turnaround time for customers across different zones
  • Move away from predefined hardware licensing cost and pay as per the use, leveraging open source-based cloud solutions
  • Allows developers to work on the core functionality of each service, optimizing them.
  • Allows the CSP to offer network and other service components as a service, leading to develop new services in the B2B domain
  • Exploit fully the potential of 5G services



Migrating to the Cloud – Look beyond Virtual Network Functions.

Despite efforts to virtualize network functions, many CSPs have realized that Virtual Network Functions alone do not offer the desired benefits of moving to the cloud. There is a need to migrate the OSS and BSS components too. CSP’s have had significant success in migrating front-end digital systems such as chatbots, mobile apps, and websites. They are looking for support from their IT ecosystem to provide the solutions and support they require to migrate the core operations. It is realistic to expect that during these migrations, some systems will be retired, some will continue in their monolithic form, and others will in some cases evolve to keep up with business imperatives. Still other systems will evolve along a stepwise trajectory and will ultimately become cloud based, or at least synergistic with a cloud-based environment.
The core for any cloud native application architecture is converting large monolithic application to several micro applications. Below are the key features of these micro applications

  • Microservices Architecture on the back end
    • Are loosely coupled.
    • Allow developers to work on the core functionality of each service, optimizing them.
    • platform-agnostic. They can be written in different languages or deployed across different types of infrastructure
    • A central orchestrator to scale microservices based on demand to improve efficiency and resource use.
    • Each service can have its own technical stack

  • Micro-applications Architecture on the front end
    • Microapps are solution to build smaller applications on the front end
    • Microapps are platform agnostic.
    • Can be written in different languages

  • Cloud Native Infrastructure
    • Cloud like native / AWS, Azure infrastructure
    • A central orchestration tool like Kubernetes to manage load balancing
    • An API Gateway to manage API traffic
    • Auto Scaling for dynamic business needs against TRUE usage. Auto Downscaling (when resource is not in use) to ensure low maintenance cost

  • MIS / Reporting
    • On demand, Real time BSS / MIS Reporting
    • Realtime reconciliation
    • A lot of Innovation around Data is possible (especially using Data Streams for live data), e.g. – Usage, Recommendation, Service Reachability / Conversion.

  • Security
    • API security through API gateway
    • AAA/ IAM services for cloud users (Admin, Dev, Users) to access cloud resources
    • Ensure protection against distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) and vulnerabilities exploitation for the application
    • Protect data at rest, in transit, and in use.
    • Tooling to scan for vulnerabilities


In Summary, Telco’s can remain future focused by virtualizing their network services and moving monolith OSS and BSS to the Cloud. Cloud native OSS and BSS built on micro applications provides the necessary agility to create innovative, personalized customer experiences that would result in higher customer retention and improve revenues.

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