The most glamorous part of networking is unquestionably the hardware that moves and delivers information. Historically, the least glamorous part has been the operations support systems and business support systems (OSS/BSS) that support the service providers' day-to-day operations as business entities.
But making a profit by delivering a product or service is at the heart of any successful business operation and without technology to support those goals, there won't be any hardware to deploy or a mission for it to support. So the bottom line is that telecom industry trends in OSS/BSS systems are just as critical as network hardware technology trends.
According to network operators, the top telecom industry trends in OSS/BSS systems and architecture are being driven by service layer architecture and changing the need to manage customer experiences rather than subscription services. The major changes include the following:
- A transformation from a supply-side to demand-side vision of the business;
- A transformation from craft (operations personnel) support to automated support
- A transformation from management-as-an-overlay to management-as-service logic.
Networks of old made money by providing technology to connect users, and services were derived from that technology. To achieve optimum return on investment (ROI), network equipment and services investments were made with a very long capital cycle. Products were expected to be in service from five-to-20 years or more.
Sustaining this long in-service period was critical, and OSS/BSS systems processes were tuned to manage the supply of transport bandwidth and connectivity, and to plan orderly capacity improvements. Network management and provisioning in this business framework were separated from service support and billing because the latter represented only the contractual commitments of resources from a pool. This vision of OSS/BSS systems is reflected in the TM Forum's venerable Enhanced Telecommunications Operations Map (eTOM).