OSS Automation – 3 simple steps to success
OSS automation has become an essential topic in the communications industry. That’s because the OSS – or operational support systems – are critical to the agile delivery of new services and the efficient management of deployed assets. Agility matters, but so too does cost reduction, so ensuring the smooth operation and interconnection of processes that span multiple systems to increase efficiency provides a way to both contain costs and enhance performance. And, with skills increasingly in short supply, it’s become even more important for network operators and telecoms service providers to automate key processes, to ensure that their resources can be deployed more effectively.
The importance of OSS automation
Given the need to accelerate OSS automation, where should a service provider begin? In this blog, we’ll explore some simple steps and their benefits, to help focus efforts to deliver ROI in the shortest time – while paving the way for future efforts.
3 simple steps to OSS automation
OSS Automation implies the triggering of related processes, based on events, actions and alarms. When something happens, something else may need to happen to create a synchronized chain of actions. For this to translate into meaningful benefits, integration is critical. Systems, entities and elements need to be connected, typically via APIs, but also via standard protocols when they are available. A seamlessly integrated and joined up environment is the ideal outcome, but clearly it can take time to achieve such a landscape.
As such, an important further step is prioritization.
It’s often said that people should pick their battles or choose their targets. You can’t do everything at once and some challenges can loom too large, leading to inertia. It’s simply human nature to avoid tackling some problems, because the effort seems too large. The same can be said of OSS automation. Attempting to automate everything, in one single project or effort is a daunting and, let’s be candid, often too large a task, fraught with risk.
However, that doesn’t mean that OSS automation should not be attempted. Indeed, it is almost an existential problem. All service providers need an OSS that’s fit for purpose and automation is the key to achieving this.
So, an incremental approach is required. What part of the business can most benefit from an immediate investment in automation? This analysis is crucial to the success of OSS automation projects, as it allows service providers to choose the most appropriate point at which to start.
Is the need to accelerate service delivery for new fiber connections the main pain point, for example? Is the pain the need to manage an installed base of existing subscribers? Is the need to densify a network for 5G the pressing problem? Is there a legacy system that is costing money to run? Are there too many systems to enable more users to make relevant changes? Is the operator seeking to deliver private networks as a service to meet new 5G requirements for enterprise customers?
The key is to identify a compelling driver, based on a pain point to kick-start OSS automation. Because systems will be integrated, further steps can be taken from such a starting point, minimizing overall disruption. This is important, because it can help remove the barrier of inertia that prevents any action being taken. For many, the migration to full fiber has been a starting point, while the conversion to an all-new, 5G-based core for converged network services will be another.
Know your inventory.
Of course, ensuring effective integration and choosing the starting point for the OSS automation journey are critical, but there is one thing that is absolutely essential to ensure effective OSS automation – understanding the asset base, both in terms of physical and virtual resources, and their location, as well as how they relate to each other and how they are involved in service delivery.
That’s because any given service depends on a range of resources, from virtual to physical for its delivery. It may need to be presented to a specific location and composed from existing assets. To make sense of these assets and how they can be coordinated to support operations, a single, unified view of the overall operator and service provider inventory is required.
The inventory should contain a complete overview of the resource and asset catalog and should be correlated with location. It should provide a single view, accessible both to any user and to any system that presents a consolidated picture of all network and service assets and resources. This view needs to be dynamic. Indeed, the concept of dynamic inventory management and visibility is fundamental to any network and OSS automation program. Such a program simply cannot deliver results with an accurate inventory system being in place.
Securing the benefits
OSS automation is expected to deliver significant benefits. It will enable more efficient, agile service delivery and management, while reducing costs. It may enable more value opportunities to be captured, faster, with greater profit. So, there are internal cost reduction drivers, as well as revenue growth potential. And, there’s efficient use of resources, such as human capital. Being able to do things with fewer people allows resources to be deployed where they can be most effective and make the most impact.
The benefits of OSS automation have been extensively explored by the industry – but what matters now is action. That is why the three simple steps we have identified and explained matter. Building OSS automation projects on the three pillars of integration, prioritization and inventory is the right way to succeed and to ensure that projects can be initiated successfully – but it also provides a clear foundation on which to build and to secure further benefits from OSS automation in the future.