Reimagining and reshaping the OSS for the 5G era

15 March 2021 | Research

Perspective | PDF (17 pages) | Service Design and Orchestration| Network Automation and Orchestration

"The digitally transformed OSS, together with the digital front office, enable a truly end-to-end digital experience for consumers and enterprises."



Communications service providers (CSPs) are undergoing multi-faceted digital transformations with key initiatives such as digitising the front office, reducing opex and improving operational efficiencies, disaggregating and cloudifying the network and launching new 5G services. These initiatives are leading to major changes in the way in which customers interact with CSPs, how IT systems and networks are built and deployed and how services are designed and launched. Back-office operations must be themselves transformed to enable these initiatives.

CSPs must take a three-pronged approach to transforming the back office and making it fit for purpose for the 5G era. The pillars of this strategy are as follows.

  • Rationalise and modernise the OSS by adopting a lean approach to operations with technology based on cloud-native principles. CSPs need to assess which capabilities they require as they modernise their systems and must define the approach that they will take towards systems consolidation and vendor rationalisation. They can take a best-of-suite or best-of-breed approach to building their OSS, and can increase the level of automation by adopting CI/CD processes supported by DevOps methodologies.
  • Standardise OSS interfaces based on open APIs and abstract the underlying network complexity from the higher-layer management functions. Standardisation is needed to increase interoperability and the ease of integration between different vendors’ solutions. This is particularly imperative for CSPs that are adopting a best-of-breed approach. TMF ODA is a standardisation initiative that has been championed by several Tier-1 CSPs; it is envisioned as a way to simplify, standardise and, most importantly, automate the lifecycle management of the OSS and BSS using software-defined standards.
  • Orchestrate and automate the network to enable localised and multi-domain automation. Orchestration and automation across network layers and domains is key to achieving a modern and predominantly zero-touch back office that supports physical, cloud-native and SDN-enabled networks. Both resource-layer orchestration and network-domain-layer orchestration will need to have its own level of closed-loop automation, and the end-to-end network and service orchestration layer will unify all the domains and orchestrate based on service intent.