An increasing number of telcos are sending out RFPs for public cloud OSS, but that hasn’t caught Suntech off guard. Our entire SunVizion OSS suite is proven to work smoothly on AWS, giving CIOs much-needed peace of mind.

Migrating vital OSS applications to the public cloud is no longer unthinkable, at least for the more pragmatic telco CIO.

Operations Support Systems on cloud

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the reliability of public cloud providers,” asserts James Crawshaw, a principal analyst at Heavy Reading. “For some operators, public cloud is also proving to be cheaper than hosting OSS in a private data center, when all costs are considered.”

In his recent report, “Public Cloud for OSS”, Crawshaw highlights several public cloud OSS initiatives from operators of various sizes. The breakthrough for winning greater public-cloud acceptance from telcos, he says, was when AT&T announced in July 2019 that it intended to become a “public cloud first’ company. The US heavyweight plans to migrate most non-network workloads, including OSS, to the public cloud by 2024.

“This marked a watershed moment in the adoption of public cloud in the telecom industry,” claims Crawshaw. “Traditionally, public cloud was regarded as unable to meet the performance, security, and data governance requirements of the tightly regulated telecom industry.”

AT&T is far from ploughing a lone OSS furrow. Vodafone, too, has talked about making public cloud part of its OSS evolution. Some progress has been made. The UK‑headquartered Group has already selected a service assurance solution, delivered as-a-service, hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS). 

UK mobile operator Three is also in the throes of deploying multiple applications, including OSS, on public cloud platforms. Like AT&T, this is all part of what it calls a “cloud first” strategy. The UK’s smallest mobile network operator has opted for what it calls a “greenfield full‑cloud OSS/BSS digital transformation”, running on Microsoft Azure, to support deployment of 5G. Three UK launched he next-gen cellular tech in August 2019.


CIO caution…

Despite some high-profile industry moves towards public cloud OSS, not all reservations have been put to one side. As Crawshaw rightly puts it, CIOs are a “cautious bunch”.

They have to be. Properly functioning back-office IT systems are essential for service delivery and assurance, billing, and customer care. Get those things wrong and a telco’s brand will take a hammering and CIOs will lose their jobs. Migrating OSS applications to the public cloud, when so much is at stake, might seem needlessly risky – not least because they are not immune to worrying glitches. Google Cloud services suffered an outage, albeit a short one, last December. Microsoft Azure was hit by a six-hour outage at its US East data centre in March 2020. 

Another disruption happened at AWS last November, which also impacted some companies based on America’s east coast. Among those reportedly not able to access AWS services were 1Password, Adobe, Autodesk, Glassdoor, Roku, and The Wall Street Journal.  

Cautious telco CIOs, looking anxiously at the public cloud landscape, might then be forgiven for feeling uneasy about handing over important back-office functions to an AWS, Google, or Microsoft. After all, they typically see themselves as having much greater control – and no doubt have greater confidence – when relying on their tried and trusted private data centres.


…slowly giving way to public‑cloud partnerships  

Yet Heavy Reading’s Crawshaw believes the “tide is now turning” in favour of public cloud within the telecom industry.

The transition is being led by BSS and the mobile network, he says, “with OSS set to follow”. An industry shift towards adoption of cloud native software architecture, “with most new OSS purchases being deployable on public cloud by default”, means that the private-cloud only approach is no longer set in stone as it once was.

Telefónica Deutschland, arguably one of Europe’s trailblazers when it comes to shifting BSS apps onto public cloud platforms, is a good example of how some telcos are rethinking traditional ways of doing things.

In mid-2020, the Spanish giant’s German operations revealed it was migrating around 50 of its 200 BSS applications into the public cloud. “We have moved beyond the planning phase and are basically in execution mode,” said Mallik Rao, CTIO of Telefónica Deutschland, in an interview reported by TelecomTV. He added that 80% of BSS applications could run in the public cloud.

“The trust has started to develop with the public cloud players,” reflected Rao. “I would say that in the past six to 12 months, we have realised there is a big opportunity for us to leverage… [the cloud giants] are coming to talk to us more, to find out how we are developing the network… the more we know them, the more they know us, then we can create a common ground.”

Rao belongs to a new and more pragmatic CIO and CTO mindset, which is emerging in many telco boardrooms as they look to better manage costs and get more from their IT investments.

As Crawshaw points out, however, the more conservative CIO – often found inside large telcos – is only “gingerly adopting” public cloud as infrastructure-as-a-service (where server capacity is outsourced). Widespread change may not happen overnight, then, but telco public-cloud momentum is building.


Ready when you are

Suntech has observed at first hand a growing number of RFPs from telcos wishing to explore public cloud options. True, its flagship SunVizion OSS product has traditionally been deployed on private clouds – as is the case with products from many other OSS providers – but Suntech is not standing still.

Last year, the company successfully completed a few OSS implementations on AWS. They involved the entire SunVizion OSS suite – physical and logical inventory, as well as service fulfilment and assurance – running on the AWS public-cloud platform.

Telco CIOs do not need to have sleepless nights when mulling their public cloud OSS options.