Next-generation operations support systems (OSSs) and business support systems (BSSs) hold the key to service providers' new Holy Grail, which is the ability to deliver 'any service to any device over any network, anytime, anywhere.' But it takes a service delivery platform (SDP) to open the door.
A core concept I used to tell clients at ADC Telecommunications and Visionael Corporation was: 'You can't provision what you can't see.' In other words, you can talk all day about launching and activating new services to open new revenue streams, but you'll run aground if you don't have good command of your network inventory. A core group of next-gen OSS providers has specialized in deploying network resource management (NRM) systems that render 95% to 100% inventory accuracy and render the oft-stated goal of 'flow-through provisioning' attainable.
Instead, you must top rock-solid inventory with service fulfillment systems that can configure any part of that inventory at a moment's notice to deliver services -- today's services and those that don't yet exist. And these systems must be integrated and cost-effective and must leverage common components and resources.
In the early 2000s, a self-respecting vendor could consider itself 'a next-gen OSS provider' merely by building a system with the capacity to deploy an IP or wireless service, and that's exactly what went on. Vendors built 'new legacy systems' that differed from the 'old legacy systems' merely by virtue of the new services they could support. We may have slapped sparkling new graphical user interfaces (GUIs) on them, but from a structural perspective, we were trudging across the same old legacy ground: creating software silos for the packet-switched world, just as we had built software silos for the circuit-switched world.
Service delivery platforms transcend the legacy
SDPs transcend these limitations by providing a common way to introduce and integrate new services into an operator's existing network and services fabric, slashing the time, risk and cost of launching new offerings. An SDP brings together many OSS/BSS disciplines, providing a unified view of subscriber data, service configuration and device-level information that strengthens every link in the service fulfillment chain. It includes everything from subscriber/order management to inventory, configuration management, design-and-assign/provisioning, activation, reconciliation and verification back into billing and customer relationship management (CRM).