In a market where the term ‘telco/IT convergence’ has become one of the most sprawling, and potentially amorphous, terms since, well, fixed/mobile convergence, one of last week’s largely unheralded M&A events might just provide the most pointed example of true convergence than we’ve seen in a while. Probably due to offending the PR gods, when Amdocs announced its acquisition of Actix it unfortunately came amidst the cacophony of Verizon buying out Vodaphone, and Microsoft assuming most of Nokia. As a result, what got largely drowned out was the implication that Actix’s SON capabilities hold for Amdocs as it seeks to leverage the capabilities of its integrated OSS/BSS platform to help influence wireless network performance in real time.
That’s real convergence, folks.
Now, to be clear, there are plenty of capabilities that Actix brings to Amdocs that will supplement its “traditional” BSS play. End-user location data promises to improve Amdocs’ ability to help operators mine data that can be used in customer service interactions. It can even help operators craft targeted marketing campaigns, or better yet, expose the data to third parties to develop targeted, real-time ad campaigns (aka data monetization opportunities and the oft-discussed telco “big data”).
However, what caught my eye in the release, and then got me thinking after reading this blog from Amdocs, was the implication that Amdocs seems to have designs on embedding SON capabilities into its OSS that will be able to make changes in a network operator’s RAN based on the data mined form the Actix analytics engine(s). I can see Ericsson embedding these capabilities into its OSS/BSS play. Ericsson literally means “radio” in Swedish. They have street cred when it comes to fiddling with radio networks. But, an OSS/BSS specialist, with little to no RAN history taking this tack. I’ll say it again, that’s convergence… in a way that we really haven’t seen much of until now.
What does this mean to convergence?
I think it means that we are seeing an aggressive stab being taken by a powerful telecom player to increase the scope of its relevance in what will eventually become a converged telco/IT environment. It probably also means that Ericsson’s romp through the collective backyard of the telecom industry’s IT-oriented players is going to increasingly be met with aggressive and direct attempts at IT players staking their claims to the telco piece of telco/IT convergence.
So, with the likes of Oracle taking big bites, and Amdocs choosing a bit more selectively, it’ll be interesting to see who makes what moves next. Maybe IBM will decide that it wants to provide some of the virtualized functions to ride on top of its Service Provider Delivery Environment? Perhaps Huawei will figure out whatever the Chinese characters for “M&A” happen to be, and start snapping up local integrators? I bet NetCracker will follow Amdocs somehow with a move aimed at filling out its own small cells optimization capabilities; this might just be a smart way to better connect NetCracker with NEC’s interests.
For now, though, I’ll be watching closely to see how Amdocs connects the dots between OSS/BSS and SON – and how operators react as well.