At TM Forum Live! (in Nice in May), Domenico Convertino, WW CMS OSS Domain Lead, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, will deliver a presentation on OSS for digital services as well as a case study on developing a highly scalable OSS platform. In this post he looks at the evolution of a more agile OSS.
As they introduce digital or hybrid services, communications service providers (CSPs) will quickly have to transform their operations. Efficiency, quality and agility will be the top three success factors, requiring the new OSS to feature a combination of advanced automation, analytics and, above all, composability.
CSPs have a unique opportunity to embark on a successful journey to becoming digital service providers (DSPs). Digital transformation is not a matter of choice. Indeed, nowadays we all tend to mostly prefer email, social networks’ instant messaging, chat and internet calls over traditional voice services. CSPs must evolve if they want to come back to growth. They must transform themselves and embrace the era of the internet through easy-to-use, real-time services made available to everyone, from any device — particularly smartphones.
That being said, it is obvious that not all CSPs will become DSPs overnight. This will take place gradually. Besides, some CSPs will continue to focus on delivering network services only. Every CSP will thus need to shape their operations and OSS according to their commitment level to DSP transformation, at their own pace and through different scenarios.
CSPs face three options in the digital revolution, from protection to new positioning.
- The first option, which I would call the plain option, is to protect their core as an infrastructure provider, focused on voice and data services. However, CSPs will then see their revenue go down and will be more and more pressured in terms of margins.
- The second option, which I would call the smart option, is to exploit their assets in a world of “co-opetition”, focusing on network quality to differentiate themselves. With this model, they will probably not experience much growth, as they are still focused on network services.
- The third option is to position themselves in the middle of the digital economy, and focus on digital services delivery: TV, cloud, office solutions, etc. This clearly opens up many growth opportunities.
Efficiency and operational quality are essential success factors in the plain and smart scenarios, where driving operational cost reduction and reducing churn will be the key objectives. However, efficiency and operational quality alone will not be able to support CSPs in their transformation journey to become DSPs. Indeed, DSPs will need to launch many different digital services, instantiated to consumers within minutes, if not seconds.
Agility is becoming “the” mandatory success factor, which, coupled with model-driven and intelligent automation, will enable self-driven, zero touch operations.
Agility is not easy to achieve, and actually very few OSS implementations until now have been agile enough to be able to cope with the introduction of hybrid and digital services. With current traditional OSS solutions, the introduction of hybrid and digital services increases complexity in an exponential way, especially in provisioning and runbook automation workflows. Such a level of complexity prevents any form of agility. This is a key challenge for OSS implementations, if not the main driver for the OSS revolution that is ahead of us. The good news is that the solution to enabling agility exists. For an OSS to be agile, it must be “composable”, i.e. allow CSPs to create new services based on existing, reusable, atomic services.
Composability is achieved through “intent-based” service modeling, which bring objects, relationships and behavior, i.e. policies, into one model. In this respect, it is different from other modeling approaches such as TOSCA or YANG, for example. The key benefit of intent-based service modeling is the automation of workflows without any hard coding, dramatically reducing development time and allowing for the reuse of existing services to define new ones.
To explain intent-based service modeling, let’s use a simple analogy: if you ask somebody to mow your lawn, you will not give the list of all the blades of grass in your yard and the length to cut for each one. Intent-based modeling emphasizes the “mow the lawn” intent. It is designed to move away from the industry-standard CLI model which focuses on “each blade of grass”. Once the description of what is needed is separated from the details about how it is implemented, then you have achieved composability, enabling agility.
In conclusion, CSPs can be optimistic about the opportunities ahead of them. While networking technologies such as SDN (software-defined networking), NFV (network functions virtualization) and IoT (Internet of Things) help them transform themselves into DSPs, the parallel advent of innovative OSS approaches allow their operations to start delivering the level of efficiency, quality and agility required for those digital services.