Why Netcracker’s partnership with AWS highlights a critical telco trend
- Netcracker software portfolio available on AWS
- Vendor already had deal with Google Cloud
- Shift to use public cloud-hosted OSS/BSS is underway, albeit slowly
While much of the telecom sector’s focus right now is on the early stages of 5G and the industry’s reaction to (hopefully) short-term data consumption patterns, behind the scenes there’s a revolution taking place in one of the backwaters of the industry – BSS/OSS.
That revolution is the shift towards the availability of business and operations support system applications on public cloud platforms, a move that enables operators to access, use and pay for those applications in ways not previously possible.
The latest company to adopt this approach, from the vendor side of the fence, is Netcracker Technology, the NEC-owned company that is indisputably one of the leading telecom software players (it has 250+ customers, from small to large, including the current prize customer reference of Rakuten Mobile).
Earlier this month, Netcracker announced that its suite of digital BSS/OSS applications is now available on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and that T-Mobile Netherlands is already using Netcracker BSS tools that are hosted on that public cloud platform.
And in March, Netcracker announced it had struck the same kind of partnership with Google Cloud, noting that it would “leverage Anthos, Google Cloud’s open application platform that helps telecommunications customers deploy, manage, and optimize their applications, whether they are on-premise or in the cloud, to deliver its suite of products across multiple private and public clouds, on-premise environments, and at the network edge.”
Anthos, as we know, is a big deal in the multi-cloud workload world.
Netcracker, of course, is just the latest telecom software vendor to extoll the virtues of public cloud deployments and forge relationships with the likes of AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure. (Note: We are still waiting to hear if Netcracker is aiming to make its tools available on Azure as well…)
MYCOM OSI has been an advocate for a couple of years, also has a partnership with AWS, and has been instrumental in Three UK’s radical migration to cloud-based operations. But probably the most vocal advocate is Optiva (formerly known as Redknee), which has adopted a strategy that is focused fully on public cloud, with Google Cloud as its key partner: The company is aiming to migrate its customers away from traditional on-premises software to cloud-based applications, though some, such as Vodafone Idea in India, are wanting to take steps towards the public cloud by hosting applications on their own private cloud platforms in the first instance.
So what’s the appeal? There are a number of potential gains for network operators if they run operations and business tools in the cloud, not least that it will reduce capex and opex, improve flexibility and broaden the range of potential suppliers.
But the list of potential downsides is quite long, including security (data and physical), reliability, compliance, interoperability, the need for new skillsets and training, and more.
This will explain why the migration of BSS/OSS applications to the public cloud, and the uptake by network operators, has been slow. And there are plenty of operators who just don’t want to know: In an excellent report on this topic published by the TM Forum late last year, Tim McElligott noted that 26% of operators that responded to a survey said they would not move OSS applications to the cloud, while 34% said they would transition only certain components to the cloud.
But there’s no doubt that this is a trend and a potentially important one for vendors and operators alike: The whole sector will be watching to see how Rakuten Mobile’s network and back office performs as it signs up and provisions its customers, while AT&T is in the midst of a program with Azure to migrate multiple applications and workloads to the public cloud by 2024. This is a real thing.
Here at TelecomTV we’ll be tracking and reporting on this trend regularly and we’ll be chatting about this trend during the upcoming DSP Leaders World Forum (May 11-15): Check out the agenda for more details.
- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV
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