To become a fast-to-market organisation, your systems need to be driven by metadata so that you can avoid IT development. Catalogs play a big role here. If you have a system that is catalog driven, it can often be configured to some extent, depending on exactly how catalog driven the system is.
Telcos love best-of-breed software – whether it’s for workforce management, asset management, inventory, order management, CPQ, or trouble ticketing systems, to name just a few – and often implement these systems as “islands” which then need to be stitched together through integration.
For a whole architecture to be dynamic, systems need be integrated in a way that enables their catalogs to talk to each other, and that enables integrations between the systems to work for any items within the catalog. The same thinking applies when integrating with partners or model-driven networks.
To achieve these dynamic outcomes, some real architectural governance is required as systems are integrated. IT development and integration needs to be viewed as providing reusable capabilities rather than as something which must be done fast to support the latest urgent initiative. The pressure to show results fast almost always works against the objective to create a dynamic architecture.
This is the type of problem that standards can solve, and the TM Forum is rising to the challenge by embracing polymorphism in their API specifications. A polymorphic API abstracts parts of the API payload, and allows these parts of the payload to be governed by metadata and driven by a catalog.
To win the 2019 TM Forum Excellence Award in the Open API category, DGIT Systems showed what can be achieved with dynamic architecture and TM Forum Open APIs.
Product vendors can now build the TM Forum Open APIs into their products in a way that enables these APIs to work for any item in the catalog, and allows their products to plug easily into other products to create dynamic architectures. This is exactly where the action is in dynamic architecture. Ironically, when service providers are in too much of a hurry to build, extend or integrate systems to support fast to market, it comes back to standardisation and collaboration across the vendor community to make this happen.
In IT transformation projects, the same dynamic architecture that supports fast to market should be the key measure of early success, but typically it isn’t. To claim early success, projects often implement one use case or one product, and show they can deliver improvement for a single case. This often works against long-term success when the project delivers the immediate result in advance. Early project success should be measured by how quickly an organisation can move the second product onto the new architecture. This makes sense when you consider than IT transformation is about establishing a new set of systems and then re-implementing often hundreds of products within the new systems. Taking six months on the first product is fine if you can do a product every few weeks thereafter, but six months per product is a doomed project.
If you are a service provider seeking these outcomes you should engage product vendors who truly subscribe to the principles of dynamic architecture. Given where the market is currently at, be prepared to work with vendors to help them complete dynamic product-level integrations that conform to TM Forum standards if there are gaps. The long-term benefits are immense.
At the TM Forum DTW 2020 event, DGIT Systems has joined forces with Fujitsu Networks, ServiceNow and Deloitte in a Catalyst proof-of-concept project to show dynamic architecture in play between BSS systems and Network Service Orchestration, as well as a real first: dynamic architecture between ITIL – where the ITIL CMDB is traditionally a fixed extensible data model – and catalog-driven systems.
In this Catalyst, we’re showing how the ITIL CMDB (Configuration Management Database) can be linked into a catalog-driven architecture so that any new digital service can be immediately supported through its assurance systems.
The reason for this approach is that for many CSPs there is a huge barrier to achieving fast to market: the assurance team needs to do specialist integration to make the two worlds interoperable. This immediately breaks the fast-to-market effect of the catalog-driven architecture. Today, more than 90% of fault ticketing systems within telcos are ITIL based, so this a key nut to crack in the quest for dynamic architecture across telcos, built on best-of-breed islands.
For further information take a look at https://www.tmforum.org/the-dynamic-architecture-2/.
Our ongoing program of industry projects seeks to prove that each barrier to an end-to-end dynamic architecture can be removed so that the once monolithic telco can transform to become fast and competitive.