The communication service provider (CSP) revenue crunch, driven by stagnant and declining voice and data revenues, is imposing greater pressure to control costs and to operate more efficiently while rapidly innovating and launching new service offerings.

Next-generation networks, fixed/mobile network convergence and the transition to an all-IP infrastructure were intended to help contain operating costs while providing the groundwork and bandwidth for such next-gen service offerings as any-to-any connectivity, mobile data, machine-to-machine (M2M) and cloud-based services. Such innovations brought new technical and operational challenges that accelerated the need to rationalize and optimize management practices. As a result, the carrier industry as a whole has been forced to undergo significant changes in the way it does business.

There are many strategies allowing CSPs to create value for their shareholders. Some focus on customer intimacy, some on product leadership and others on operational excellence. Customer intimacy requires retaining and increasing revenue with high-value customers – this can be achieved by building up customer knowledge, monitoring customer quality of experience (QoE), understanding how customers are consuming services, monitoring custom service level agreements (SLAs) and proactively identifying instances of performance degradation.

Start With One-Stop Shopping

When focusing on product leadership, some CSPs will offer the most complete communication and IT solution portfolio, and will unify their offering presentation through one portal, allowing them to be the one-stop shop for large enterprises. Offering such a portal requires CSPs be equipped with a data warehouse to store KPIs, KQIs and IPDRs for each service and each customer along with the proper mechanisms to allow secure data access by all stakeholders. Successfully implementing an operational-excellence strategy can be achieved by reducing end-to-end troubleshooting, which increasingly requires collaboration between siloes.

The success of each of these strategies will rely on CSPs’ ability to consolidate their siloed and customer-specific performance-assurance implementations around a proved carrier-class performance-assurance platform. Such a platform will allow them to gain access to the most accurate intelligence in a unique, unified, cost-effective manner.

Perhaps for the first time in the long history of the carrier industry, CSPs’ IT organizations have the opportunity to take a leading role in determining the business success of their companies. Within most CSPs, IT is responsible for implementing business-critical systems upon which service operations center (SOC) and network operations center (NOC) engineers rely to assure next-gen services. In this role, IT is the vanguard of preparing and shepherding their organizations through CSPs’ current business-model evolution and technology migration.

As the need to consolidate OSS and BSS assets accelerates, CSPs will benefit from learning about today’s industry success, including the Telstra transformation project. This project looked at automating and integrating back and front office processes as a way to reduce its 1200 BSS/OSS systems by 75 percent during a three-year period. One of the lessons from the Telstra case study is to avoid “big bang” IT transformation projects. Instead, CSPs should select a best-of-breed platform from a third party that enables them to benefit from innovation, to fulfill their specific service-definition requirements and to grow with their market’s expansion.

Why Third Parties Are Important

While consolidation projects have been happening for the past five years, few were really successful. CSPs that managed to undergo this transformation selected third-party solutions that offered capabilities tackling very specific challenges, including:

>> Seamlessly interoperating with existing network and business environments – By facilitating integration with new devices and interfaces, and allowing the rapid definition of new services, CSPs are able to increase their agility and to roll out new services on time and on budget.

>> Supporting effective monitoring of complex, custom SLAs per service and customer – By simply tailoring out-of-the-box service-definition templates to meet their specific service-level reporting requirements, CSPs can attract demanding prospects and retain high-level customers.

>> Implementing resilient software architectures – By deploying in high-availability and failover configurations that navigate in-house and customer-premise security constraints, CSPs can help ensure deployment stability and management-platform availability. This allows IT to operate with peace of mind.

>> Predictably and cost-efficiently scale – By leveraging a proved platform optimized for carrier-grade deployments and backed by sizing tools and a methodology developed by hundreds of CSPs, IT can plan and scale their implementations efficiently to meet changing business and operational requirements, delivering results on time and under budget.

>> Accelerate stakeholder adoption – By supporting easy-to-use, powerful self-service reporting and dashboard capabilities, CSPs can avoid internal reporting request bottlenecks and can allow each stakeholder to access powerful insight.

As demonstrated by such Tier 1 providers as Telstra, selecting a proved carrier-class service-assurance solution is the first step in assuring and realizing the benefits of next-gen service-rollout and opex reductions. At a time when services need to have cloud-based characteristics – such as on-demand activation through self-service portals – and need to meet the stringent requirements of large customers, CSPs must accelerate their consolidation initiatives. This consolidation will help ensure CSPs achieve significant differentiation, allowing them to take a leading role in the market.

Cyril Doussau de Bazignan, director/Product Marketing, InfoVista, cdoussau@infovista.com.

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