To survive in an increasingly competitive market, communications service providers (CSPs) will require improved flexibility, the ability to deliver a superior customer experience and a faster rate of innovation. Cloud migration of business support systems (BSS) is essential for CSPs to achieve future growth and success in the telecom industry. However, many CSPs are slow and incomplete in their approach to cloud migration and have stopped short of deploying truly cloud-native BSS.
The main stumbling block is the inflexibility of legacy networks’ monolithic BSS systems. Existing applications can be modified to utilise the cloud, but without being cloud-native, these applications are unable to take full advantage of 5G capabilities, including higher speeds, lower latency and greater capacity.
To take full advantage of the cloud, CSPs need a diverse set of BSS capabilities built for the cloud. They must be deployment-agnostic and work seamlessly across telco and public clouds. BSS in the cloud gives operators the freedom to choose best-of-breed BSS applications, such as campaign management or charging systems – to develop an approach that allows selecting the most appropriate solution to suit customer, network, and economic requirements.
Achieving this ideal scenario requires a modular microservices architecture that operators can leverage to customise and manage the telco cloud configuration to match their needs. Ensuring this architecture is built to industry standards specifications and uses standardised APIs for developing BSS applications provides consistency across multiple cloud hosts.
With container-ready microservices, product portfolios can be enhanced and expanded to include non-telecom services, providing unique and innovative bundles targeted at different industry verticals. Greater diversity in terms of loyalty-centric, real-time, and context-driven services requires top quality transaction management, which is central to a microservices architecture.
In the cloud, CSP software and IT teams can implement DevOps practices that combine software development with IT operations to reduce development time and increase the quality of software. By following continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) methodologies, code changes can be delivered faster and with higher levels of reliability. Automating the deployment of new software releases, applications, and services means full focus on customer-critical areas such as continuity of service and security.
Another huge benefit of BSS deployment in the cloud is that the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) can be exploited. Although legacy BSS systems already perform automated repetitive tasks, any changes to the processes or the data input need to be made with human intervention. By incorporating AI and ML into the workflow, activity can be monitored and analysed in real-time. For network behaviours, this shows dynamic adjustments can be made in terms of bandwidth or latency requirements. In terms of customer experience, upgrades and offers can be made in near real-time, resulting in unparalleled personalisation.
With cloud technologies and 5G networks putting the spotlight firmly on the customer experience, the transformation of BSS will help to redefine the interaction between CSPs and their customers – both in the consumer market and in the vertical markets where 5G business cases are proliferating.
There are myriad opportunities out there for CSPs that fully understand and embrace the power of the new networks. Migrating BSS to the cloud is a fundamental innovation that CSPs must undertake to truly leverage these capabilities. The result will be a paradigm shift in flexibility, adaptability, and customer engagement – and ultimately a stronger CSP business.
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