Orange and Vodafone are among the TM Forum members piloting a component accelerator to ensure their software systems are a help rather than a hinderance when creating new partnerships and revenue streams across 5G and IoT ecosystems.
Orange and Vodafone explore the business value of standardized components
Orange and Vodafone are among the TM Forum members piloting the validation and interoperability testing of ODA components to ensure their software systems are a help rather than a hinderance when creating new partnerships and revenue streams across 5G and IoT ecosystems. The two communications service providers (CSPs) were joined by Accenture, Oracle and Whale Cloud to discuss the business value of TM Forum’s ODA Component Accelerator project in a recent TM Forum webinar. Participants agree that CSPs need a more automated and efficient way to roll out new services.
“With 5G and IoT and platform ecosystems we see lots of innovations and technologies coming to market and opportunities for new services…and revenue,” says Lester Thomas, Chief IT Systems Architect at Vodafone Group. “The question is: How will we manage when we move from having four core services to having many hundreds – or even thousands – of services?”
Especially as Thomas expects many future services to be lower margin than existing ones, meaning they will only be commercially viable if CSPs can greatly improve their operational efficiency. By having access to modular, standardized, machine readable software components CSPs believe they will be able to create differentiated products and services much more quickly. TM Forum’s ODA Component Accelerator project aims to make it possible for them to buy a product specified to a particular component and know what environment it is going to run in and how it will be operated and what it will do. Thomas likens the resulting components to Lego blocks, which conform to underlying design guidelines, but can be used in multiple different and very creative ways.
Standardized components are also an important step towards the goal of making the ODA 100% machine readable, as CSPs seek to build agile and autonomous cloud native IT and network systems. Automation is key to streamlining operations. Currently Vodafone’s operational and business support systems deal with thousands of applications across the entire company. “Each one of those [systems] is operated fairly manually,” explains Thomas. “And there’s an operations team for each one of them. So, we have operations teams of thousands of people doing that work.” Moving forward, however, Vodafone’s plan is to have a single “Canvas” cutting across multiple public and private clouds with just one engineering team for the whole environment. Orange’s Director of Operations, Francoise Moumen, explains that automation will allow existing teams to focus on adding value.
“We are convinced…we can automate a lot of tasks of the operations,” she says. “We can implement a new way of working between the software engineer and the operating team. It will allow everyone to focus…on activities that add value.”
Both Thomas and Moumen stress the huge business benefits of changing today’s RFP (request for proposal) model of procurement. “We must move from traditional RFP processes to proof of concepts as a primary way of solving business challenges and building partnerships,” says Thomas. “We cannot afford the time and effort that we currently extend in running lengthy of RFP processes.” Moumen also foresees Orange replacing the current RFP process with proofs of concept that accelerate time to market, increase choice and reduce cost.
“It is very important, because it’s a very long process today. A components approach should reduce integration costs,” Moumen explains. “The ODA component-based architecture…allows us to implement faster and with more efficiency. It is a key part of global IT strategy in Orange.”
Watch the webinar: