DTW23-Ignite: How Amdocs, Orange and Marand gain through Open API collaboration
A recent project to develop a new product configurator Open API demonstrates how a small regional BSS supplier, a tier one communications service provider (CSP) and a global telco software giant can all gain from collaboration to develop open standards.
A product configurator software component plays a critical role in both shaping customer experience and increasing the speed, agility and simplicity of a telco’s backend software systems. It draws on multiple parameters, including product orders, the sales channel, customer requirements, and inventory to configure product offerings during the ordering process. Getting it right is core to automating the delivery of a consistent, multichannel customer service.
Orange came to the project through wider work on its enterprise architecture. The company had been using an internal product configurator API for several years, but now wanted to adopt open standards.
“Standardization allows for something understandable and usable by everyone in every context,” explained Olivier Arnaud, functional architect, Orange. “It will cost us to change to a standardized version [of our internal API], but there are long-term benefits because if we want to buy something from a supplier … they can [now] implement the standard Open API.”
Marand Software meanwhile was separately working on Telecom Slovenia’s new BSS. Marand was using TM Forum documentation to determine how components of the product configurator interacted when it realized a piece of the puzzle was absent.
“Once you configure everything, you get a price quote, and you need to assure this is consistently applied, regardless of the customer touch point.,” explains Bostjan Keber, VP Product, Marand. “This was missing from product configuration ODA component. We went to TM Forum and … Andy Tiller (Executive Vice President, Products & Services, TM Forum) connected us with Olivier Arnaud at Orange, who said we are working with Amdocs on the same thing.”
As a smaller company of 40 people, Marand relies on standards to integrate its cloud-native and microservices-based architecture within a multi-vendor environment, which includes global players such as Microsoft, SAP and Ericsson.
“The biggest struggle is making a system work in a heterogeneous multi-vendor environment. TM Forum is doing a really tremendous job in standardization,” explains Keber.
Together, within a few months Amdocs, Marand and Orange were able to align on how to consistently apply configuration, pricing, discounting, and policy execution across different customer engagement points. Amdocs was able to bring its experience in large-scale commerce systems to assist in finalizing the interface. “As a small company, we don't really have reach to tier one operators or major vendors like Amdocs so for us it was really beneficial to see what other companies are doing,” says Keber. “Now, we can publish this as a specification of a new API so that the whole community can benefit from this work,” says Keber.
Orange also benefited from tapping into external sources of expertise.
“Amdocs has a very long history with TM Forum and Jonathan Goldberg and Jacob Avraham are very senior architects who gave us a lot of useful information,” says Arnaud. Orange also gained a fresh perspective on the issue it was trying to address. This helped stimulate internal debate, which led to a different solution to that initially envisaged.
“Because an Open API has to be reviewed by peers and TM Forum’s chief architect, we started from one point and ended up somewhere totally different,” according to Arnaud.
At the same time Orange had to accept compromises, but Arnaud believes this is a fair price to pay for industry standards.
“There are always things to improve, but people needing these assets know that there been many skilled people working on it and they can have confidence in the quality,” he explains. “I am happy to have contributed to something that is open source and everyone can reuse.”