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Shift to Cloud - Telecom Charging Engine and BSS

  • 1.  Shift to Cloud - Telecom Charging Engine and BSS

    Posted May 06, 2019 15:01
    Hello,

    I was looking to get the group's thoughts on recent commentary around a pending shift to cloud for Telecom charging engines and broader BSS software systems. Google Cloud and AWS have both named telecom IT as a focus point more recently, and there has been some talk of new monetization opportunities from 5G that will require richer applications to harvest.

    • How fast will the CSPs look to shift from on-premise applications to cloud?
    • What teleco's are likely to make the move first? Will they adopt a private or public cloud strategy and why?
    • What pain points are driving this shift (5G, total cost of ownership, new features, other)?
    • What vendors are best positioned for this switch?
    Would love to hear any / all thoughts on the above and how the industry will or won't make a big push to cloud. Have seen this happen in other vertical software categories, but not yet in any big way in telecom.  Wondering if it is inevitable, or telecom is different.

    Alternatively, would love to chat in person if any of you will be at the Digital Transformation Conference in Nice later this month.

    I have spent a good amount of time on the above and would also be happy to share thoughts / compare notes either in person or on the phone.

    Best,
    Matt
    #DigitalTransformationMaturity

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    Matt Kirk
    Maple Rock Partners
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  • 2.  RE: Shift to Cloud - Telecom Charging Engine and BSS

    Posted May 07, 2019 05:45
    When talking about moving telecom network functions and services to the cloud Technologies, the virtual network functions (VNFs) get most of the attention. The software part of the infrastructure-virtual infrastructure managers (VIMs), software-defined networking, and MANO platforms-get some attention, too. But the hardware?

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    CETPA Infotech
    CETPA INFOTECH
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  • 3.  RE: Shift to Cloud - Telecom Charging Engine and BSS

    TM Forum Member
    Posted May 07, 2019 05:45
    It is not only inevitable but also shall happen sooner than expected. This transformation has been agrred in many cases and strategic descision and long term vision on its way to fulfill the demand to shift from on-premise to virtualized.

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    Avishek Mukherjee
    Telia Company
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  • 4.  RE: Shift to Cloud - Telecom Charging Engine and BSS

    TM Forum Member
    Posted May 07, 2019 05:47
    Hello Matt

    Regarding your questions, I think CSP are moving quite fast towards cloudification and migrating their applications to be cloud native. It is foreseen that 85% of globel enterprises would use a multi-cloud straategy in the coming year. So, for IT Cloud, telco's had started with private clouds, but are currently havingbmore confidence and trust in public clouds especially for their enterprise customers.

    The key reasons for this shift is, from my point of view, related to TCO and the agility and fast time2market that global cloud providers offer, as well as the scarce skills and investment required from telco to reach a mature level. Edge technology is also a key driver to use public clouds as well that capitalise on existing networks and fast deployments and solutions provided by Microsogy, AWS, Google, and even Huawei.

    You need to make a distinction between MEA and Europe as the market maturity and needs are not quite similar.

    Huawei might be perceived as a key challenger and leader in MEA with an agressive strategy, whereas AWS and Microsoft are better positioned in Europe.

    I hope this helps

    Samer




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    samer salem
    Orange
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  • 5.  RE: Shift to Cloud - Telecom Charging Engine and BSS

    TM Forum Member
    Posted May 07, 2019 05:47
    Everything is going to the cloud however the question is whose cloud? Mostly you should assume it's private (in house) cloud.

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    Vance Shipley
    SigScale Global Inc.
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  • 6.  RE: Shift to Cloud - Telecom Charging Engine and BSS

    TM Forum Member
    Posted May 07, 2019 07:36
    Hi Matt,
    You ask very good questions addressing a highly relevant area.
    In my observations, the key challenge is to get the business focus and business leadership committment. CSPs are for the most managed more than led. This inherently focus on operational improvements and not innovation and change.

    The business reasons for change are to fundamentally change the ratio between operational staff and technologies, enable more products and services and extend its reach into digital ecosystems helping their customers generate value. Example; CSPs have helped companies generate value beyond what has ever been seen before, AirBnB, Uber, Whatsapp, Instagram and many many more. These companies have reached austronomic capitalisation values. If CSPs and Internet had been closed down, all these companies would go belly up.
    If CSPs do the right thing consistently they will receive revenue with good margin as a result.

    Putting BSS/OSS in the cloud should, and must be based on enable business capabilities as opposed to functionality, which the industry has done up until now. Identifying business capabilities are different to gathering functional specification and should be based on business model design (not plan).

    Having identified the business capabilities; CSPs have to determine the desired reach in to an ecosystem for designing re-usable horizontal business processes before enbarking on functionality and virtical processes. The very foundation for re-usable processes are re-usable data models on order to; 1. enadle re-usable process design, 2. Open APIs, 3. Horizontal process flow though (all the way in the ecosystem).

    As a result CSPs can expect much lower operational cost (may also be capital expenditure) in that change orders driving the need for costly engineering resources and time consumption have the potential of being greatly reduced.

    To succeed with required new approaches and methodollogies CSPs need to put in place proper (leadership drive) governance; This is a must.

    My two penny......


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    Cato Rasmussen
    Independent
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  • 7.  RE: Shift to Cloud - Telecom Charging Engine and BSS

    TM Forum Member
    Posted May 07, 2019 11:50
    ​Hi Matt, my company (at least the business unit that focusses on Enterprise customers) is undergoing this change right now.
    We started our shift to cloud a few years ago, when we dipped our toes in the water with Salesforce Sales Cloud. We are actively preparing to move to a cloud-based (SaaS) offering for our CRM, Product Catalog & Ordering functions, and have an RFI out for Charging & Billing functions in which we have indicated a preference for cloud-based offerings.

    There were a few main drivers for the shift:
    - The need to consolidate multiple current BSS platforms (many of which are aging/EOL).
    - New BSS requirements emerging from new business models/products in 5G and IoT that aren't adequately supported by current architectures/designs.
    - A general "cloud-first" strategy for IT, which itself is driven by the promise of cost savings and greater business agility.  The strategy includes public, private and hybrid cloud components based on the business criticality of the application, whether functions will be exposed externally and the need to protect data.

    The bulk of the shift won't be completed for at least a couple more years and undoubtedly there will be a long-tail of legacy/specific-purpose on-prem applications that will be continued to be used for several years after that.

    Disclaimer: I'm not one of the key people making these decisions or implementing these new applications, just close enough to them to be aware of what is happening.

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    Michael Webb
    Rogers Communications Inc.
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  • 8.  RE: Shift to Cloud - Telecom Charging Engine and BSS

    Posted May 08, 2019 11:37
    Thanks Michael. For charging and billing, what vendors have cloud-based offerings that you are considering? Is it just Matrixx and Optiva?

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    matt kirk
    Maple Rock Partners
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  • 9.  RE: Shift to Cloud - Telecom Charging Engine and BSS

    TM Forum Member
    Posted May 08, 2019 13:37
    The vendors we are looking at (although we have not confirmed that all have cloud-based offerings yet)​ are Amdocs, Aria, Enghouse, Ericsson, LogiSense, Matrixx, Netcracker, Nokia and Zuora.  We've also asked AppDirect if they have any recommendations from their marketplace. Optiva wasn't on our radar - will check on that.

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    Michael Webb
    Rogers Communications Inc.
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  • 10.  RE: Shift to Cloud - Telecom Charging Engine and BSS

    TM Forum Member
    Posted May 09, 2019 07:52
    Hello Michael Webb and Matt Kirk,
    You may want to consider PortaOne's Converged BSS/OSS/Billing in the cloud.
    You can download a detailed Frameworx certification report here https://www.tmforum.org/certifications-awarded/portabilling/
    PortaOne will be exhibiting at TM Forum's Digital Transformation World, 14-16 May, in Nice France,

    I'd be happy to explore the fit of Cloud PortaBilling with your your respective requirements.
    Just drop me an email at chackal@portaone.com

    Cheers,
    Michael
    --
    Michael Chackal
    Business Development Director - PortaOne Inc.
    Barcelona, Spain.
    M: +1 613 495 0292
    chackal@portaone.com
    http://portaone.com
    http://twitter.com/PortaOne
    https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelchackal

                  TM Forum Digital Transformation World in Nice, France
                  Acropolis Convention Centre, May 14-16, Stand 206

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    Michael Chackal
    PortaOne, Inc
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  • 11.  RE: Shift to Cloud - Telecom Charging Engine and BSS

    Posted May 08, 2019 06:11
    Hi Matt,

    TLDR: It's totally happening.

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    That's a good question. I was the CTO of a leading Fraud and Revenue Assurance company and have witnessed the move with various clients already in a number of situations. Where 10 years the question of cloud-readiness was seldom asked by customers, it has now become a dominant point of discussion when interacting with CSPs. I know of quite a few accounts which have shifted quite a bit of their OSS/BSS to the cloud already. Even legacy applications get outsourced to the cloud in order to get rid of internal infrastructure and resources.

    For new initiatives affecting OSS/BSS within the CSP I would say the majority are always considering whether to run this in the cloud and many of them eventually commit to the cloud with these. For existing implementations you see a gradual shift from running systems in-house to the cloud, regardless of whether we are talking shifting legacy applications to the cloud or making the shift as part of a legacy replacement.

    I don't know of any meaningful operator today that does not have a cloud strategy in place. They may differ in their approach, but there is no doubt that it is all going in the same direction.

    The question here really is what drives this change, as the actual operational cost a lot of the times isn't even that cheap compared to running things in your own data center. It so happens, that the cloud has a LOT to offer (you can finally get rid of Oracle, yeah). I see and have experienced the following main drivers (in no particular order):

    • Technically the cloud is now able to keep up with the requirements of the operators. In the early days, that wasn't always so.
    • Get rid of infrastructure worries, aging machinery, migration cost. 
    • Ability to grow with the capabilities of the cloud providers
    • Very easy up- and downscaling, especially now that server-less computing is becoming more and more of a thing. Or try AI on-premise with elastic scalability. It would be a huge upfront investment (not to speak of time).
    • Ready-made environment support
    • Trust in cloud security, which wasn't always like that.
    • Ability to take advantage of managed services, so you don't have to do these things yourself.
    • The cost can actually be significantly cheaper depending on what exactly you are doing.
    • Companies trying to focus on their core business, which is not having to run an IT department like AWS.
    • Time-to-market
    • More OSS/BSS vendors now offering their solution from within the cloud already (salesforce of course is just an example). But apart from sophisticated OSS/BSS solutions, you can also look at simple tools like JIRA, version control, Microsoft Office packages and so forth. There is really not much point in running, maintaining and administering all of this yourself, if you don't have to. It's a distraction to run this yourself more than anything else.
    Lastly, and one of the really important points here: Availability of skilled resources. If you wanted to keep up with a lot of the developments which are incubated in the cloud and/or may only be available in the cloud, you will not be able to hire or train up enough people to replicate this. It's hard enough to keep up with cloud progress already. Not even to speak of the CSPs ability to set up cloud-comparable infrastructure. It's simply not possible, efficient or reasonable. What you need now, is not so much people who know how to run an in-house datacenter, but people who understand how cloud actually works and what it has to offer. Most managers don't fully understand that cloud is a TON more than hardware infrastructure with a little bit of software. I think it's quite the opposite. If you want to be successful utilizing the cloud you should better understand it's capabilities and metrics. Without being too dramatic here you can compare it to playing the piano: If you want it to sound right, you need to know how to play it, not how to build it. So you better have some good cloud-musicians and not someone who knows how to build it (just don't). These musicians unfortunately are a rare species, too, of course.

    To your detailed questions:

    How fast will the CSPs look to shift from on-premise applications to cloud?
    Happening already. I think it would be asap. Of course that means something else for each operator.

    What teleco's are likely to make the move first? Will they adopt a private or public cloud strategy and why?
    Tankers take longer to turn. So the big ones will take longer overall. On the other hand they are doing this already and gradually. If you are a small local operator, it may be a lot simpler to go into the cloud with some of your stuff, so it can happen quicker. But it may also not be as rewarding overall.

    What pain points are driving this shift (5G, total cost of ownership, new features, other)?
    See above.

    What vendors are best positioned for this switch?
    Well in my view, the ones which are best positioned are the ones which have an architecture which is natively cloud. You see a lot of legacy vendors which run their stuff in the cloud, but that really just means that they are running old architecture on new cloud architecture, without actually taking advantage of it. It's a little bit like running a 32-bit application on a 64-bit architecture. On Windows this still works, but it will stop working sooner or later.
    Customers will also ask questions as to why they still need to pay for DB licenses when it's all running in the cloud etc.
    I sometimes wonder why some of the established vendors don't have an initiative going to rebuild their stuff for native cloud. Instead they hold on to their legacy until it's tool late. My prediction is, that many of them will just vanish.


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    Andrew Tan
    layline.io
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