The benefits of a loosely coupled infrastructure

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This is the year that operators will genuinely start implementing open OSS systems to support high level service creation, hears Keith Dyer

Speak to mobile OSS providers to operators and you will hear the news that at the back end of last year, and at the start of 2004, requests for tender were coming in from operators for open systems that would enable them to create, manage and support the rapid creation of content from a multitude of content providers. These systems need to be operable by the operators themselves, understandable to third parties, and support the deployment, in a month or two, of hundreds of new services a year.

For a long time there has been talk in the OSS community about open, modular environments assisting operators in their endeavour to create new business models, but it does appear as if operators are now making that move. 

Roberta Cohen, senior vice president at Telcordia, says that her experience reflects that recent move.

"We have had operators in the past year looking to create two or three new services a week. They're basically creating marketing programmes that are essentially services."

This demand, Cohen says, is driven from the realisation by operators that service creators is, essentially, what they are going to become, if they are not to become mere pipes for voice minutes and bits ever-decreasing in margin. Telcordia has a proprietary service creation environment called Space, which it is looking to evolve into a an open, probably Java based environment for next generation services. This shift from proprietary to open systems is typical of most of the major OSS vendors. This open approach allows operators to take a flexible approach to service creation, Cohen says.
"Some of the operators we sold the ISCP [Telcordia's service creation platform] to have purchased Space for their own use and some have purchased Space for a third party to use on their behalf --- and others have us create services for them. So as they require new services they pay us to put it together.

"But we have a programme for moving into next generation network services  under way, and that programme will include a Space equivalent in probably a Java execution environment --- so the programming skills that are required to do service creation will be more widespread in our customer community.

"We will have still have customers that will pay us or third parties do it. They may not necessarily want to have the skills to do it in house, but we have heard recently from one of our major customers that they think going forward service creation should become their core competence. If they are going to be an effective operator in their market they need to have a core competency in service creation and they want our support in providing an environment in which they can develop that competency in house."

Telcordia is introducing an ISCP Compact version, where operators will have the ability to purchase the platform as a separate purchase a service creation environment. It is also increasing the price performance at top end of that line. That price performance point will be a precursor to introducing a whole new architecture on the platform that will be more OSA Parlay focussed, Cohen says.