An operations support system (OSS) is a software component that enables a service provider to monitor, control, analyze, and manage the services on its network. These types of software applications, along with a business support system (BSS), support most customer-facing activities, including ordering, billing, and support.
The development and implementation of OSS systems often involve information technology (IT) expertise as well as the help of integrators that can ensure the software works with network infrastructure to pass on important information about the fulfillment and delivery of services.
OSS and BSS Integration
OSSs emerged in the traditional voice telephone systems as a way to manage voice connections. They were later adapted to manage IP-based Internet traffic (including VoIP) and broadband services. Together with the BSS, the OSS is important for delivering many business functions. The two systems are often tightly linked and sometimes referred to together as OSS/BSS. An OSS can transmit order, fault, and service assurance information to the BSS.
The OSS/BSS market is huge, estimated by various research firms to approach $50 billion worldwide. Some of the key players in the OSS market are Amdocs, Ericsson, HPE, and Oracle.
Both OSS and BSS software can require heavy development to launch new services. While they are often used by network architects and engineers to monitor and maintain systems, they are typically developed and maintained by IT staff, which in many telecom operators is distinct from the network architecture staff.
Along Comes LSO
As software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) gain momentum, they are expected to have a large impact on OSS/BSS by enabling more hardware interoperability through open information models. For example, in the past, OSSs were adapted to specific proprietary network hardware, but the advent of more open SDN and NFV equipment means it will be easier to share network data and monitoring information across a wider swath of an operation.
This trend is driving the emergence of a software layer known as lifecycle service orchestration (LSO), which is integrating some of the functionality of OSS and BSS for SDN and NFV networks. The emergence of open source software is also likely to affect the OSS market, as more service providers are interested in using open source to develop customized, yet open, systems.
Recent research by SDxCentral indicates that LSO will begin to take over parts of the OSS market in addition to growing itself, reaching as much as $2 billion by 2019. This will pressure OSS/BSS software vendors to adapt their technology to open SDN and NFV platforms and introduce end-to-end service orchestration as defined by LSO.
The SDxCentral research team also believes that as OSS functions make the transition to LSO, the software will gain more control over network hardware, enabling automated provisioning, monitoring, and network control.