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Best of Breed: Agile, Fast and Open

January 23, 2020 - Tony Gillick

As telecoms move to open, interoperable and agile solutions to enable success in the digital and 5G markets a best of breed approach is becoming the new normal. Not just in BSS, but across all IT systems and now into the RAN.

There’s been of lot of press coverage recently on ORAN (open radio access networks) and the emergence of smaller vendors winning RAN deals with tier 1 mobile operators. Up until a year ago the chances of any network vendor breaking into the network market with tier 1s were slim at best. ORAN is changing this. Designed to help networks support open interfaces and common development standards ORAN opens the door to multi-vendor, interoperable networks. Buts it’s more than open standards and technology. Large operators now have a much more open mindset when it comes to selecting supplier. This is enabling smaller vendors to strike deals operators who would typically only deal with the mega equipment vendors. On the network side we’re seeing an emergence of ‘best of breed’ where operators will partner with several vendors.

While operators have called out against ‘vendor lock-in’ for the several years, it seems that the tide is now turning and operators are seeing he benefits of Best of Breed architectures and associated Vendors  and are no longer being held to ransom by the large, closed-shop vendors. The recent news that Vodafone are looking to ‘fast track’ ORAN shows that the traditional grip of the mega vendors is slipping as operators are looking for best of breed partnerships with open-minded vendors.

Multi-vendor best of breed forces innovation, performance and standardisation amongst the vendors, best of suite doesn’t.  Best of Breed vendors don’t want to be the long pole in the tent in a multi-vendor environment so will focus on quality, efficiency and flexibility around integration. They have the customers’ interests first.

The same is also happening in BSS.

It used to be that the tier 1s operators would only deal with the ‘best of suite’ suppliers, where they would get end to end OSS / BSS stacks from a large IT company, or as happened in many cases get their OSS / BSS stacks from their network equipment supplier. In some cases the BSS solutions were thrown in for free as part of a bigger network deal.

However – all has changed.

Some network equipment providers have pulled out of the BSS market. The service heavy approach of large IT companies is falling out of favour due to high cost to serve and long deployment timescales. All of a sudden a best of breed approach to OSS / BSS is now becoming an increasingly attractive options for many tier 1 operators as they want to tailor the digital journeys and experiences for their customers. The market dynamic has changed.

Industry advances like TMF’s Open Digital APIs and Open Digital Architecture provide the blueprints to ensure integration and interoperability of OSS / BSS solutions. This means quicker end to end implementation at a lower cost. In many cases operators are deploying best of breed suites to cater for new advances such as digitalisation and 5G and they’re working SIs to lead the transformation projects.

For Openet specifically, we are providing leading operators a Best of Breed “Usage to Cash” Element within the next generation of Digital BSS stack.  Pre-Integrated with Quote to Cash and Order to Cash. The results that we’re seeing are ground-breaking when compared with the legacy approach to BSS which were characterised with high integration costs, high cost to serve and lengthy customisation development cycles.

In Telkomsel for example, we supplied our policy and charging (usage to cash) solutions, along with our partner systems to provide an end to end BSS suite which went live in just 18 weeks. As well as Open Digital APIs and Open Digital Architecture one of the major advances in fast and lower cost implementations is the move from customisation to configuration. In fact Openet has implemented systems using “Low Code” and leveraging E2E Digital journey templates. . This is possible by configuration of rules when setting up and implementing the system. The benefits of configuration over customisation come into their own when the systems are live. Operators looking to make changes to the system, e.g. to set up new offers, don’t need to engage the operator to carry out software customisation with the usual process of specification, development, testing, user acceptance testing, additional development and so on. We’ve seen tier 1 operators report a 70% improvement in time to market for new offers with a best of breed approach.

The significance of this for 5G cannot be overstated. At present there’s no clear killer use case for 5G. Operators will need to be able to build many new offers and get them to market very quickly. Some will succeed. Others won’t. Operators need to be able to adopt a much more agile business model and try out new offers and approaches, without the shackles of legacy approaches to BSS.

An open, multi-vendor approach to BSS, managed by a SI works best to ensure API alignment and acting as an ‘interface broker’. If a vendor isn’t performing their component of the end to end suite can be swapped out. This open approach reduces costs, reduces risk and provides the agile approach that operators will need as they become digital providers and be ready for 5G.

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