Cloudification threatens OSS and BSS

For companies like VM Ware and Microsoft no-one predicted that one of their biggest threats would come from an online book retailer, yet Amazon Web Services has upended the entire software industry.
The challenges for VM Ware today or Apple nearly two decades ago are being repeated in many other industries as competitors appear from unexpected directions, which is why it’s important not to ignore and sometimes co-operate with your competitors
Paul Wallbank

In yesterday’s blog, we spoke of Frenemies. Today we’ll expand upon Frenemy Model 3 and look at how it could (will?) threaten the status quo for OSS and BSS.

As many of you will have already noticed, ITSM vendors like HP, IBM, CA are all playing an active role in cloud orchestration, as are vendors with IT in their DNA like Cisco, Juniper, VM Ware and many others. The question becomes whether all of this coordinated development usurps the efforts of traditional OSS vendors and their CSP customer-base to adapt to network virtualisation concepts like SDN and NFV.

Similarly, the dynamism of cloud orchestration means that real-time inventory synchronisation and volumetric billing of IT systems/devices is arguably more attuned to ITSM offerings than OSS or BSS. That cloud orchestration is being facilitated by product and service catalogs is a further risk to diminished scope for traditional BSS providers.

There is no doubt that these threats exist. Just a few thoughts though:

  • At this point in time, cloudification is focussing on the more IP-centric network models and doesn’t replace with the massive “legacy” investments that CSPs have made in transmission technologies (PDH, SDH, DWDM) and other domains, although I do acknowledge that NFV is aiming to virtualise those network functions as well
  • Many of those investments still have years left on their useful life so they’re unlikely to be just stripped out and replaced by virtualised networks
  • CSPs are still likely to want aggregated views of FCAPS domains, so even if the cloud tools provide faults, configuration, accounting, performance, security at the equivalent of EMS-level, aggregation of other EMS up to OSS/BSS level will still exist
  • Best-of-breed solutions in FCAPS domains such as faults and performance are quite mature so it becomes a question of whether cloud-management providers would look to replace or partner with those solutions
  • The cloud orchestration service catalogs that I’ve seen have relatively simple workflow / process management at this stage, but they will undoubtedly mature with time
  • Outside plant management (including GIS and spatial management of assets such as cables, pits and pipes) tends to be more important to traditional CSPs and their OSS than cloud-providers
  • Similarly field workforce management is more important to installers of physical networks than virtual environments

OSS and BSS providers still have time to evolve and innovate whilst SDN and NFV are undergoing rapid development. ITSM providers will definitely be seeking ways to take more functionality share from them as they contribute heavily to SDN and NFV.

I wonder whether the bigger threat is from the unexpected competitor like an online book retailer or similar? My definition of what the next big thing needs to include is defined in this post. Can a traditional OSS/BSS provider deliver all of these evolutionary features or do they have too much invested in their existing code base?

Thanks to Nico Wauters of NetworkMining for spawning the idea for this post in a recent email.

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