MWC: Size isn’t everything

OSS/BSS vendors both large and not so large used the opportunity afforded by the 2013 Mobile World Congress to make some very strategic announcements.  The majority of these announcements reflected very closely what is about to happen in the sector as demand for greater complexity rises with the roll-out of LTE and the need for a solution to the seemingly eternal problem of software interfacing grows ever more pressing.

Among the big guns firing off were the likes of Amdocs, Oracle and Cisco. Amdocs, touting its newly-upgraded end-to-end OSS/BSS platform CES, now in its ninth version, also announced its entry into the cloud market in a big way. Products included MVNO / MVNE’s, solutions and M2M and mobile payment platforms. The company also had on offer cloud-based solutions for CSP’s looking to offer ‘one-stop’ services to SMB’s, as well as a managed ‘private’ cloud product that is based on a fully virtualized environment and includes Amdocs CES 9. In a separate announcement, Amdocs also announced a new order-to-activation system, addressing the need for even greater complexity when offering new services to customers, along with a customer win for some BSS elements of CES to be supplied to state-owned P&T Luxembourg.

Following hard on the heels of the news it is to buy session border controller specialist Acme Packet, Oracle, despite having once said its interest in telecoms software stopped abruptly at the network edge, unveiled a new release of its OSS suite. The new product line comes complete with design studio, order and service management, inventory management and network optimization. Right on time too, it had a customer announcement for the upgraded system in the form of South Korean CSP LG U+, which is using the system in a converged configuration, assisting the rollout and assurance of LTE as well as gaining greater visibility of its existing fixed network.

Not to be left out, Cisco, perhaps feeling confident with the impending closure of its Broadhop acquisition, has launched a suite of products, the result of more than US$1.5 billion in recent acquisitions and in-house innovation says the company, under the name Quantum. The system is designed to deliver mobile network intelligence and programmability to service providers through a suite of software solutions. The suite is built around Cisco’s Quantum Policy Suite.

Other new products of note included Orga Systems’ converged billing system for LTE which includes Java-based next-generation business logic, real-time service personalization, extended rating and account management. Tektronix also had something to shout about with the launch of what it calls the Telecoms Intelligence Provider, which is a platform for collecting, analysing and auctioning data from many of the most critical workflows within a service provider’s business.

These kinds of announcements are however the common fare of events such as the Mobile World Congress and often overshadow those of much smaller companies which are no less significant. For me, the announcement that best fits the latter category this year is of a partnership between ipoque and Broadforward who jointly, and rather modestly, promise to “deliver advanced DPI interworking”. The significance of the partnership is that by combining ipoque’s network intelligence and policy control solutions with Broadforward’s interfacing experience, the companies have potentially solved a problem for both early adopters of policy-based traffic management (Policy 1.0) as well as those who aren’t quite ready to take on the complexities of policy 2.0.

The transition from 1.0 to 2.0 is not a simple matter and has in many cases, anecdotally at least, has required either the replacement of the original policy control point in order to interface correctly with On-Line Charging (OLC) systems or the installation of a second PCRF in order to separate traffic management and OLC functions. What the two companies have produced between them is essentially a traffic management platform that can be interfaced with an OLC system in, claim the companies, a matter of days rather than weeks or months.

If so, then this is probably one of the more important support software announcements to be made at MWC 2013. Integration is still a big problem for the telecoms industry, despite the plethora of end-to-end solutions currently available and, as has been the case in the past with other areas of technology, it is often the smaller companies that crack the biggest problems. If nothing else, the clutch of announcements made at this year’s show prove that the OSS/BSS sector is in good shape, with a healthy mixture of solid development and white-hot innovation.

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