012 – Building an OSS/BSS from Scratch for a Mid-Market Telco with Steven White

While it’s the tier-1 telco OSS/BSS that get all the attention, it’s actually the mid-market that makes up the largest number of OSS/BSS by customer count (in most deregulated telco markets). The mid-market consists of Tier 2/3 telcos and ISPs with subscriber counts measured in the thousands rather than hundreds of thousands or millions. However, the OSS/BSS of this mid-market still has to cover the same broad estate of functionality as the tier-1s.

The dilemma for most of the mid-market is whether to build their own, often highly specific OSS/BSS solutions, or use off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions. Each approach comes with its own pros and cons.

Our guest on this episode, Steven White, has lived with this dilemma and navigated through it whilst working for Swoop (formerly known as Cirrus Communications). Along with his CTO, Steven and Cirrus / Swoop took the portal / OSS / BSS (named ATMOS) from concept to home-grown implementation and then ongoing refinement over the last 12 years.

As the designer and lead developer of this solution, Steven describes some of the key steps in this journey. These include the development path they took (including key re-factoring decisions along the way), their journey to cloud, the basis of some truly unique features ATMOS has and why they chose to offer unprecedented visibility to their customers using ATMOS.

For any further questions you may have, Steven can be found at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stevecodes and https://stevenwhite.com.au as well as https://twitter.com/SteveCodes

Disclaimer. All the views and opinions shared in this podcast, and others in the series, are solely those of our guest and do not reflect the opinions or beliefs of the organisations discussed.

011 – Developing a Market for your OSS/BSS with Steve Hateley

There are just so many vendors in the OSS/BSS market (our vendor directory has over 400 listings – https://passionateaboutoss.com/directory) that it can be incredibly challenging to differentiate one product or vendor from the next. OSS/BSS customers may only know of a handful of possible solutions, but there are plenty of others out there. Cutting through the product / brand awareness challenge to get the attention of buyers is one of the bigger obstacles facing vendors today.

Our guest on this episode, Stephen Hateley, knows these challenges intimately. From highly technical origins, Steve has now been bringing his employers’ products to the attention of buyers for the last couple of decades. Steve has worked with heavyweights of the OSS/BSS industry including InfoVista, Nokia and previously with recent Nokia acquisitions in Alcatel-Lucent and Comptel. He’s now assisting DigitalRoute (https://www.digitalroute.com) to bring its innovative product offerings into a market that meets at the intersection of Enterprise, Telco and the Cloud Hyperscalers.

Steve takes the time to walk us through many of the techniques he uses across product launches and the details of the campaigns that sit behind them. He also discusses the approaches he uses to interact with the many different personalities that make a product launch successful. Marketers like Steve have a vital role, to help make and shape the markets that our products get sold into. It’s a fascinating journey, one that we’re excited to share with you.

For any further questions you may have, Steve can be found at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/steve-hateley-marketing/

Disclaimer. All the views and opinions shared in this podcast, and others in the series, are solely those of our guest and do not reflect the opinions or beliefs of the organisations discussed.

009 – Managing OSS/BSS Transformation at a Mid-Tier Telco with Steven Cocchiarella

Much of the focus within OSS/BSS centres around the big-budget projects being done by the Tier-1 telcos. They get attention because there are lots of people involved, lots of OSS horsepower, with big, ambitious goals. But there’s another part of the industry that doesn’t tend to get so much public recognition – the mid-market telcos and utilities. These OSS/BSS tend to cover just as much scope. They just don’t have the same level of resources.

Our guest on this episode, Steven Cocchiarella, knows the challenges of providing a full-stack OSS/BSS for the mid-tier market. He was Director of Information Services and Business Analytics for Smithville (http://www.smithville.com), an independent telco provider in Indiana, USA. He describes the challenges he faced in this role and some of the techniques he used to circumvent some of them. Techniques such as the “cut it off and kill it,” approach.

Steven also outlines the opportunities awaiting the many OSS/BSS vendors supplying mid-market telcos like Smithville. He describes the gaps in current offerings and how they can be done better to provide better outcomes for the mid-market. He also provides examples of how he used Salesforce to provide a wrapper around the monolithic OSS/BSS he inherited, allowing him to have freer control over processes and essential data sets. Steven enjoyed these projects so much that he’s now moved on to become a Salesforce Consultant at Growth Heroes (https://growthheroes.com).

For any further questions you may have, Steven can be found at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/steven-cocchiarella-3756b811b/

008 – Making OSS Mega Projects Happen with Ashley Neale

While it might sometimes feel like OSS mega projects just happen, there’s usually a lot that must first play out up-stream, long before us technologists get the chance to design and build. First someone must spawn the idea, then be able to persuade a bunch of other people, exciting them with the possibilities of the idea. In many cases, this happens on the customer-side with OSS projects. The internal team sees the need and collects the support (and sponsors) to bring an OSS project (and product?) to inception. The customer-side team then typically asks OSS vendors / integrators to compete for the project implementation [The Red Ocean for OSS vendors].

However, our guest in this episode, Ashley Neale, takes us into his world where he’s constantly seeking ways to do things differently, to do things better for the customer [The Blue Ocean]. Ashley talks us through his experiences of conceptualising, pitching. persuading and closing a mega project worth well over $100m. Even better than that, he then describes the challenges, pitfalls and scars that he overcame whilst leading the delivery of that project, building an OSS/BSS almost from scratch.

Ashley then takes us on his career journey from an IT course at uni, to helping Engineers to sell, through to his current role developing strategic markets for Vocus. He also shares his big-picture perspective on what we can do better and where the big opportunities still lie in the OSS industry.

For any further questions you may have, Ashley can be found at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ashleyneale/

Ashley promised to provide references to further reading in this podcast. Here it is in all its glory. Some brilliant titles amongst them:

Sales

The Challenger Sale – Mathew Dixon

Pitch Anything – Oren Klaff

Psychology of Selling – Brian Tracy

SPIN Selling – Neil Rackham

Lead Generation for the Complex Sale – Brian Carroll

Cracking the Sales Management Code – Jason Jordan & Michelle Vazzana

Understanding Business

Good to Great – Jim Collins

Great by Choice – Jim Collins

Built to Last – Jim Collins

The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz

How to Design a Great Customer Experience – Fred Wiersema

What’s your customer’s problem? – Fred Wiersema

Lean Startup – Eric Ries

Understanding People

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance – Angela Duckworth

Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell

Blink – Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell

David and Goliath – Malcolm Gladwell

Think Like a Freak – Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner

Superfreakonomics – Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Noah Harai

Extreme Ownership – Jocko Willink & Leif Babin

12 Rules for Life – Jordan Peterson

007 – Building Products to Solve Fundamental OSS Problems with Jay Fenton

Jay Fenton is the Founder and CEO of Savvi, makers of innovative and highly performant OSS/BSS components that redefine the state of the art. Savvi’s portfolio notably includes SNMP, Streaming Telemetry, Netflow and IoT collectors each of which operate in the 10s of millions of events per second on a single server, solving collection problems for massive networks. We also mention Luna – a unique visualisation platform for situational awareness, customer experience management and AI/ML overwatch. Luna fluidly combines multi-layer spatial, logical and time-series data, at massive scale.

Jay is a serial entrepreneur and has built a number of products from the ground up. When we say the ground up, we mean it, as he’s re-written low-level data handling libraries to be able to process data volumes far larger than previous industry standards. As well as developing OSS tools, Jay is also currently working on side projects in Virtual Reality and SocialAudio.

This is a much longer show than normal but we pack a lot into this episode. Jay delves into a history of phone phreaking as a teenager and his early days of administering carrier voice & IP networks all the way through to the many product opportunities that he sees today. We cover a range of ideas, old and new, including: cloud OSS, telcos as meta companies, the disruption of satellite internet, the potential for an entire OSS on Salesforce, the complexities of network virtualisation, ONAP, microservices, open-source, 5G plus mobile-edge compute (MEC), Rube Goldberg machines, open source in telco, risk/reward and the recent changes in the Elastic license model, and finally mixed reality (AR / VR / XR).

For further questions you may have for our guest, Jay can be found “on the Internet” (his words). We found him at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jfenton/

006 – A Career of Innovation in OSS with Francis Haysom

Francis Haysom is a Principal Analyst for Appledore Research Group, a global research and consulting firm specialising in the telecommunication and software markets with a particular focus on OSS/BSS.

In this episode, Francis takes us on a ride through his career leading OSS/BSS innovation across the last three decades with iconic companies such as Convergys, Cramer, Amdocs, Telcordia and Ericsson. He then takes us into his current research at Appledore, looking over the horizon into what comes next in the OSS/BSS world. You could say his forecast is a little “cloud-y” and “edge-y,” so strap yourself in for a story that provides a fantastic view of the history of our industry, as well as some brilliant observations and insights into where it will go next.

005 – Making Standardised Open-Source a Strategy for OSS with Vance Shipley

Vance Shipley is the CEO and Founder of SigScale. SigScale is a provider of standardised, open-source, cloud-native OSS/BSS tools, including flagship product, OCS (Online Charging System).

In this episode, Vance takes us on a fascinating journey through a career that started three decades ago with his first role as a high-tech lumberjack through to his current owner / developer role with SigScale. His journey follows an entrepreneurial pathway, developing clever solutions to the many problems that arose during the early days of deregulation of the telco industry. He also outlines the types of opportunities that are presenting themselves in the modern landscape of 5G and network virtualisation.

Vance also highlights how he has become a Venn diagram, with a unique intersection of skills that include developing solutions that incorporate low-level protocol stacks, specialising in cellular networks (and beyond) and being a key connector to bring network management standards together across 3GPP, TM Forum and LFN.

Launch of The Passionate About OSS Podcast

We’re excited to announce the Launch of The Passionate About OSS Podcast.

The first batch of five episodes can be found here, with new episodes to be released here on a weekly basis:

The Passionate About OSS Podcast

The aim of the show is to shine a light on the many brilliant people who work in the OSS industry.

We’ll interview experts in the field of OSS/BSS and telecommunications software. Guests represent the many facets of OSS including: founders, architects, business analysts, designers, developers, rainmakers, implementers, operators and much more, giving a 360 degree perspective of the industry.

We’ll delve into the pathways they’ve taken in achieving their god-like statuses, but also unlock the tips, tactics, methodologies and strategies they employ. Their successes and failures, challenges and achievements. We’ll look into the past, present and even seek to peer into what the future holds for the telco and OSS industries.

004 – An Analyst’s Perspective on the OSS Industry with James Crawshaw

James Crawshaw is a Principal Analyst with Omdia, one of the world’s top-three technology analysis agencies. James specialises in analysis of OSS, telecommunications and IT industries, which means he spends more time researching OSS technologies and firms than almost anyone on the planet.

In this episode, James provides insights into what’s currently trending in OSS, but he also describes the techniques he uses to peer over the horizon to spot nascent developments.

003 – Hints on Finding a Role in the OSS/BSS Industry with Michael Jones

Michael Jones is a Practice Principal at Analytica Resources, a recruitment role that sees him connecting employers and employees. Analytica is a niche agency that specialises in BSS and OSS placements. This provides Michael with an insider’s perspective on the successful techniques that applicants use to find their first, or next, job in the OSS / BSS industry.

Michael describes the processes that he uses to identify best-fit candidates as well as the techniques he recommends for differentiating yourself from others. He also provides tips on how employers can win in the war on talent, finding ideal candidates, some of which might not even be actively seeking roles.

002 – The Importance of Physical Network Inventory (PNI) in an Increasingly Virtualised World with Peter Dart

Peter Dart describes his journey working with some of the world’s earliest geospatial software to his current role as Chief Architect with Synchronoss. In this role, he helps to guide the roadmap of Synchronoss’ Spatial Suite, a set of tools that assist leading network operators to manage and maintain their Physical Network Inventory (PNI).

In a world where network virtualisation technologies are grabbing the attention of many, Peter articulates why, perhaps more than ever, PNI tools remain relevant. He describes the many use cases where network designers, field workers and capacity planners interact with PNI tools / data, but also delves into some of the less well known opportunities to leverage this information.

001 – From OSS Startup to IPO with Tony Kalcina

Tony Kalcina recounts the story of taking Clarity International from its founding team and customer to IPO (Initial Public Offering) and beyond. He also describes an extensive career starting with Telstra OTC through to his current role as the APAC CTO for Tech Mahindra and Ambassador for TM Forum. Tony provides insights into the formation and leadership of OSS teams and the opportunities that still exist for teams small and large in today’s OSS environment.

000 – Introduction to The Passionate About OSS Podcast

Welcome to the Passionate About OSS podcast, the show for people who are just that – Passionate About OSS – Where the OSS stands for Operational Support Systems.

In other words, the software solutions that help manage and operate the complex telecommunications networks of today.

Thanks for joining me on the episode that isn’t quite an episode – it’s more of an introduction message that describes what this show is all about.

I’ve been running the Passionate About OSS brand for a number of years now. But I’ve been passionate about OSS even longer than that, having developed the bug on my first OSS project way back in the year 2000. It’s such a fascinating and diverse subject that I love sharing the passion with others. This show means not just having conversations, but sharing them with you, the audience.

This show shines a light on some of the best and brightest in this industry, and when I say brightest, this means some unbelievably clever, genius-level, OSS experts. Being surrounded by such luminaries can be a humbling experience, especially when you’re less Nostradamus and more NostraDumbAss, like me. As humbling as it might be, even the best of the best don’t come close to knowing everything there is to know about our ever-changing industry.

That’s why we’ll look at it from the multitude of facets that OSS consists of, through the expert eyes who represent personas such as:

· Architects

· Business Analysts

· The C-suite (CEO, CMO, CFO, etc)

· Consultants

· Data Scientists, AI / ML

· Designers

· Developers

· Founders

· Operators

· Project Implementers

· Rainmakers

· Testers

· And so much more

We’ll delve into the pathways they’ve taken in achieving their god-like statuses, but also unlock the tips, tactics, methodologies and strategies they employ. Their successes and failures, challenges and achievements. We’ll look into the past, present and even seek to peer into what the future holds for the telco and OSS industries. The telcos we assist have never been more important to our society, yet they’ve never been more imperiled by market disruption. We’ll seek out ways to add even greater value to network operators and the global customer-base they support.

I expect that our guests’ stories and insights will help you along your own journey, regardless of whether you’re just starting out or have already spent decades wrestling the beast that is OSS.

Like so many of your counterparts, I’m sure you’re inquisitive enough to have loads of additional questions for our guests and I. If so, head over to PassionateAboutOSS.com and leave us a message:

1) of the questions you have,

2) your stories and journey and

3) perhaps even suggestions about the guests you’d like to hear from in future.

We’ll talk soon… but in the meantime, be sure to spread the gospel, the passion that is OSS.