When you’re running a network, particularly a modern network, there are many balls that need to be juggled simultaneously. The list of factors you need to monitor, manage and balance include:

  • customer orders;
  • field workers and their activities;
  • network capacity;
  • health of the network;
  • coordinating network asset lifecycle management jobs;
  • payments for services consumed by customers and much, much more.

Some of these factors need to be managed at a rapid decision speed (like fault-fix within tight service obligation windows), whilst others are managed at a much slower pace (like planning of network augmentation, which often starts years before any changes happen in the field).

The Importance of Managing the Complete Lifecycle Perspective

Yet all of these factors are inextricably linked if we take the complete lifecycle perspective. As an example, if the approval of a network augmentation design is delayed by one day, then the network equipment procurement process is also delayed. That delay has a knock-on effect on the sequence of what projects drop into a field worker’s daily job queue. That knock-on then causes changes in the ready for service (RFS) date when a customer can start using new services on the augmented network. But before that, there was a delay in the new network infrastructure showing up in resource lists to be made assignable to a customer’s order. Hence, the orchestration of that order had to be put on hold, freeing up space for other queued orchestration actions to jump ahead in the queue.

That all sounds a bit complex, but it’s only the tiniest glimpse into the second-by-second toggles that are happening within a service provider’s network management remit. In large networks, there are millions of decisions being made every day, all within the context of finding the best possible balance of activities to optimise time, costs and resource allocations.

The Role of OSS and BSS in Network Management: Connecting and Collecting Dots

Sounds like a project manager’s nightmare doesn’t it? Truth be told, it is. However, it’s out of this nightmare that Operations Support Systems (OSS) and Business Support Systems (BSS) arose. OSS and BSS are an essential part of bringing system to the chaos, bringing repeatability to the confusion, bringing order to fluctuations and perturbations of the network.

OSS and BSS are assigned the task of connecting all the dots. They don’t connect the dots using human intuition like the days before OSS/BSS arrived. They connect the dots by applying logic to data points. But where do the data points come from? Well, OSS and BSS have to collect them first. Not just collect them, but also cleanse, homogenise and glue them together. Not only do they have to connect the dots, but first they have to collect the (data) dots. That’s right, OSS and BSS help overcome both of these challenges.

The other interesting thing about this is that every OSS and BSS stack is different. The patterns for collecting and connecting dots might be similar, but the actual data sets differ from network operator to network operator. Some solutions collect only a few dots, others collect trillions. The dots collected directly influence the dots that can be connected (the insights that can be derived).

The Need for a Single Framework

In a world where you’re looking for insights across all aspects of your network, you want to be able to connect the dots across everything easily. You don’t want separated clusters of dots that limit the breadth of insights that you can stitch together. You want to collect and consolidate dots across Network Inventory, Service Order Management, Network Planning, Network Configuration, Billing & Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Network Roll-outs, Service Fulfillment, Smart Service Design and your Workforce. All within a single framework, a single data set and a single insight engine.