Intelligent software will be the most important differentiator for communication service providers across the world as they drive business results. The number and complexity of services has exploded in just a few years and competition from aggressive entrants has shaken the very foundations of the all the incumbent stakeholders in the network software industry, forcing them to act in order to survive. In the first of two articles, let's first start by making the case for why status quo is not acceptable.
The dilemma faced by network operators and the software vendors is to come up with an actionable plan to change the tires of a car moving at 60 mph. Although the legacy architecture is an inherent problem, it is crucial for day-to-day operations and changing a system to adapt to the future impacts the present, a catch-22 situation is created; the consequence is that most service providers are unable to define pragmatic execution plans to break this deadlock.
The challenge faced with software systems maintained by the typical IT back-office at a service provider is like peeling an onion - the difference is that as each layer gets unpeeled the picture gets more complicated and unmanageable. The difficulties stem from both organizational challenges as well as custom implementations.
As systems proliferate, software vendors face even greater difficulty convincing service providers to execute a manageable migration to a new architecture that supports providing the best experience to customers by rapidly delivering products and services where and when they need it. The two big challenges are:
- Patching the patchwork - The demands from convergence has complicated the BSS/OSS sprawl with vendors solely focused on short-term financial results. With no plan to retire applications and systems, niche solutions and enhancements continue to prop up the back-office.
- Over hyped technology - In the zeal to sell the transformational power of technology, vendors have missed creating a sound business case for technology investment. In the tough economic environment today technology clearly is just one part of the change operators have to go through. From SOA, ESB, web 2.0 to IMS to touch-less provisioning - they all hold promise for the future and are just one aspect of the enablers for business success.