April 10, 2020

A Centralized Catalog Will Play a Pivotal Role in a 5G World

The growing popularity of modular BSS/OSS in the world of 5G means catalogs have a far greater significance in enabling business agility.

Modular BSS/OSS architectures are being hailed as the way leading software vendors can empower operators undergoing a digital transformation. At the center sits a series of catalogs for storing the definitions of services, products and resources, and as networks grow more complex, these catalogs become increasingly critical.

A centralized catalog will be important in creating new revenue opportunities in 5G, but in order to open up those opportunities, operators must streamline their partnerships and hasten time-to-market for products and offerings. They need a single point of access to multivendor product information across channels and a unified way of describing products to facilitate their reusability and incorporation into new bundles. Also, in order to provide an ‘App Store’-like experience in the partner-driven era of 5G, BSS functions such as partner management, billing, service creation and catalog management must be open and agile, providing opportunity for partners to plug their offering catalog into the operator’s master catalog.

5G-related services will be complex and operators will need to address quality of service, security, monitoring and alerting as well as support for disparate devices and content elements. 5G-centric services will also need more stringent and customer-centric SLAs. The goal is to eliminate manual processes as much as possible so all key BSS functionalities, from order to cash, are automated.

Catalog modernization as the foundation of a transformational approach

Centralizing the service and product catalogs means they act as a single source of truth, which is key to the modular approach of transformation. Then, all interacting systems have one repository that links and cross references the service level information with its related product and resource level data.

Many data processing tasks can then be more easily performed, such as the validation of possible service/product bundles. Customer care can be better informed. Order fallout is minimized. And automated service provisioning is possible on a higher percentage of orders.

Under the modular approach, it is common for CSPs to want to decouple the functionality of modular components under separate domains. This can be done by using standards-based APIs to communicate between domains and abstracting the data models. The catalog remains the centralized element that stays aware of these changes, so in a multivendor environment, there are few data sharing issues due to this harmonizing effect.

Bringing advanced orchestrated functionality to complex multivendor environments

In a BSS/OSS architecture for hybrid virtualized networks, various orchestrators will hold master control of workflows in the order management and provisioning processes. At the core of these processes, the orchestrator will need to interrogate the catalog to gather data and make amendments and corrections to information in the catalog. Without a centralized catalog function, the orchestrator’s job would be significantly more complex and fraught with difficulties as it tried to marry data from different sources to build a workflow that would fulfill the service or network order.

From a product management perspective, a modular transformation also has benefits. The centralized catalog allows a simplification of most processes passing through BSS and OSS, so less time is spent firefighting and more is spent streamlining configuration, enabling agile product introduction and personalization options that ultimately boost customer experience.

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