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Evolving Software Solutions: OSS-as-a-service delivery model

January 20, 2017

The changing business needs of communications service providers (CSPs) buying operations support systems (OSS) means that vendors are constantly evolving their solutions. The industry is currently going through a phase of major change where many of the long-held best practices are being superseded. With its highly flexible nature, OSS-as-a-service is in line with many of the new mantras of modern networking and OSS.

Changing software characteristics
The modern software market has a new set of characteristics that makes it more suited for the OSS-as-a-service delivery model:
• Modern software systems are configurable during runtime, allowing them to be adapted to the particular data models, processes and preferences of a modern CSP, without customisation of the source code. 
• For some areas – particularly greenfield operations – some CSPs have shifted from buying best-of-breed systems (even configurable ones), and then paying to integrate them, to buying best-of-suite, multifunction systems. This change in buying behaviour is driven by the need to reduce costs and, more importantly, time and risk. 
• CSPs are often demanding that not only software be delivered, but also the operations processes that work with the software. 
• Most modern software systems are built with support for multi-tenancy and multiple languages.

Meanwhile, software vendors find the OSS-as-a-service model appealing for several reasons, they have to support only the current version and this reduces development and supports complexity, which decreases costs and increases the quality of support; vendors share the value-add of the hardware platform instead of only the software; and multi-year revenues are higher overall, although lower at the beginning than at the sale of a software product.

Customers of OSS-as-a-service find it appealing that this model is globally replicable, delivery times are significantly shorter, administrative support costs are lower – particularly in systems that require frequent updates – professional support is constant, best practice use cases are in constant use, and upfront costs are lower.

Reduced time-to-market for new services
One of the classic business benefits that cloud-based software systems have used to win favour in the chief financial officer’s office has been the ability to reduce the overall implementation time of projects, allowing the business to generate value from the project much quicker than from the traditional on-premises deployments. Once the service is live, OSS-as-a-service vendors have their own operations teams to fulfil customer requests and often have a suite of self-service tools for more routine functions and procedures. Internally developing a service delivery process as streamlined as this would often take CSPs several years, so having this level of efficiency straight “out of the box” is considered a great benefit to CSPs’ operations.

Investment shift from capex to opex
In the CSP market, most operators still buy software solutions as an initial investment with a large financial commitment before the installation of the solution. Operators traditionally prefer capex spend for technology investments because this reduces the total cost by using amortisation and depreciation over the total period of the investment. However, the industry is now moving to an opex-preferred model.

Importance of an open API ecosystem
Creating and nurturing an open application programmer interface (API) framework and ecosystem for developers to use the same toolset as the vendor is vital for supporting the model-based operation processes of the OSS-as-a-service system. A consistent developer environment and language will ensure maximum reuse of common business processes and careful maintenance of best practices throughout the OSS environment. Combined with the vendor’s own “out-of-the-box” applications, the CSP will be able to build a powerful collection of applications for all business requirements.

Difference between OSS-as-a-service and legacy deployment methods
The components in an OSS-as-a-service solution are key to realising the benefits, but the delivery method of the software itself can enable a host of service-oriented benefits. Some of the innovative schemes being offered by vendors in specific environments are: traditional on-premises deployment in CSP cloud-using generic software, with some standard use cases, standard software licence pricing, supported by product-related services and professional services; SaaS deployment in vendor network operating centre using generic software, and managed services for service level agreement management; and on-premises deployment in the CSP cloud or vendor cloud, using generic software supplemented by use cases developed for the CSP, co-created with the vendor, CSP and other ecosystem players. This model provides the most advantages for CSPs as they can benefit from global expertise and practical use cases, and can also enable a continuous improvement model that is useful for current transformation scenarios like centralisation, as well as future scenarios for virtualisation and digital services.

Based on a white paper, “The Growing Market for OSS-as-a-service in Telecommunications”, by Analysys Mason


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