As SDN/NFV Rollouts Continue, BSS Readiness Must be a Top Priority Moving Forward
Modernizing or even replacing BSS with more real-time and automated capabilities will be critical to the successful rollout of SDN/NFV services.
For virtually every operator, the relationship between network and IT has always been an interesting one. In an ideal situation, virtual network function rollouts would be based on the capabilities of the network and the underlying back-office functionality needed to ensure that services are fulfilled, priced, delivered and monetized. A recent 2018 Heavy Reading survey of service providers worldwide highlighted that those assurances have still yet to be realized for most.
The study revealed that 44 percent of service providers surveyed commented that their main reason for transitioning to SDN/NFV was driven by new services. SD-WAN, cloud VPN, value-added network services, infrastructure and productivity services all represent value-added and revenue-increasing service options for enterprise customers, with cost advantages from cloud scalability, faster time-to-market and greater flexibility.
As personalized, on-demand services proliferate, traffic volumes grow and competitive pressures increase, service providers have realized that a balance between minimizing expenses and maximizing their market power is the next critical step of their transformations.
However, the integration of SDN/NFV architectures with revenue management systems and processes still represents a significant challenge. More than 80 percent of respondents to the Heavy Reading survey stated that their BSS technology stacks are not ready to support the pricing and billing flexibility needed to deliver virtualized services.
Traditional BSS have always been aligned with the static nature of the network, where services remain constant or at least more consistent during their lifecycles. This is particularly true for cable and fixed-line services, for which pricing and bundling are configured, provisioned and billed for in alignment to the specific needs of that service. Transaction volumes also remain relatively constant, as service consumption only varies based on occasional spikes in traffic, service promotions that attract new customers or service outages that drive customers to churn to another provider.
SDN/NFV turns that process on its head with fully automated, dynamic orchestration and intelligent data management capabilities that allow services to be created quickly, scaled at cloud levels and changed based on customer needs. This shift to a real-time architecture puts increased stress on existing BSS, which was never configured to support such an environment. As such, service providers face delays in virtualized service rollouts due to the challenge of modernizing revenue management systems and processes to meet complex service demands. This doesn’t discount the issues of implementing new business processes and shifting staffing skill sets.
Service providers can solve this by aligning network and IT business goals. The only way to ensure virtualized service success is a holistic strategy that aligns service planning and OSS investments with BSS transformations. Because SDN/NFV represents significant extensions to the services portfolio, it, in turn, increases service density and stresses existing infrastructure.
Once internal alignment is in place, it’s time to stop neglecting BSS. Increased workloads for BSS, new pricing models and real-time rating functions require an investment strategy to adapt (or replace!) the BSS layer so that it guarantees this flexibility. Otherwise, the BSS bottlenecks of the past become the same bottlenecks of today and tomorrow. New BSS investments must be ready for cloud scale, able to rate for any chargeable events as service instances grow significantly and able to manage complex customer traffic thanks to more diverse customer profiles, broader applications, and new service policies. Netcracker has invested significantly in its Netcracker 12 platform and related SDN/NFV service areas to help solve these exact problems.
For more information on SDN/NFV, check out Netcracker’s Next-Generation Revenue Management solution as well as our IT Transformation capabilities to learn how we can help service providers ready their BSS for the virtualized world.