Netrounds and Cisco Polish Orchestrated Assurance Credentials but Operator Readiness Uncertain

Ron Westfall – Research Director, Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

• Netrounds and Cisco expand their relationship to include the certification of Netrounds Virtual Test Agents (vTA) technology on Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) servers targeting increasing operator demand for orchestrated assurance capabilities.

• Netrounds and Cisco confront adoption barriers as many operators exhibit fear of failure toward automating assurance processes without more use cases and rivals offer single-vendor, pre-integrated alternatives.

In June 2017, Netrounds and Cisco expanded its partnership targeting growing operator demand for orchestrated assurance. The collaboration entails the compatibility certification of Netrounds vTAs with Cisco UCS servers building on Netrounds existing certification and integration with Cisco Network Service Orchestrator (NSO). The move boosts the market profile of Netrounds’ automated service activation testing and active monitoring solution through the channel and certification alignment with Cisco. Both Cisco and Netrounds strengthen their hand in driving orchestrated automation as compatibility certification is an essential feature in spurring operator automation of assurance processes. However, the collaboration must show it can provide the solution capabilities needed to drive the full range of orchestrated assurance requirements and faces adoption barriers as operators continue to investigate which assurance processes are best suited for automation. Read more of this post

ZTEsoft Introduces ZSmart 9 BSS Platform but Comes Up Short in Meeting Operator Digital Transformation Demands

Ron Westfall – Research Director, Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

• ZTEsoft launched its ZSmart 9 BSS suite at TM Forum Live! 2017, including new omni-channel, DevOps, and continuous billing capabilities, aimed at driving operator digital transformation.

• ZTEsoft faces portfolio development and marketing challenges in showing the ZSmart 9 BSS solution aligns fully with operator digital transformation strategies and also meets their specific omni-channel and billing requirements.

At Tl Forum Live! 2017, ZTEsoft unveiled its ZSmart 9 BSS solution. The new BSS solution is designed to meet emerging operator digital transformation requirements, including fully automated scaling that adapts to traffic fluctuations and omni-channel customer interaction capabilities, which use social media and instant messenger (IM) platforms to deliver personalized experiences across different touch-points. The ZSmart 9 platform also offers support for DevOps research and development (R&D) methods and smart cloud maintenance. In ZSmart 9 billing, the new miniature bill run capability is initiated upon arrival of each call detail record (CDR), instead of performing a bill run at the end of a billing cycle. The approach enables capabilities like real-time notification, credit control, and updated accumulators, allowing additional runway for the operations team to correct errors before the end of the billing cycle. However, the ZSmart 9 BSS solution is missing essential characteristics needed to drive operator BSS transformation. Read more of this post

Nokia: New Autonomous Customer Care Solution Offers Digital Care Breakthroughs, but are Interactive Bots Ready for Prime Time?

Ron Westfall – Research Director, Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • Nokia debuted its Nokia Autonomous Customer Care solution at its Nokia Analyst Day before the TM Forum Live! show, leveraging machine learning-powered interactive care bots to predict and resolve residential service concerns.
  • Nokia faces near-term support challenges as operators align their operations to take advantage of consumer intelligent assistants to improve customer care.

At the Nokia Analyst Day preceding the TM Forum Live! show, Nokia unveiled its Nokia Autonomous Customer Care solution, aimed at increasing the intelligence of operator digital care and creating new revenue streams. The solution offers interactive care bots, such as Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana, and Google Messenger, using natural language processing (NLP) and Nokia Bell Labs machine learning algorithms to predict and resolve service-degrading issues more efficiently. However, Nokia confronts near-term operator support challenges in scaling autonomous care.   Read more of this post

TU Automotive 2017: More Ecosystems than a Coral Reef


Jason Marcheck

Jason Marcheck – Service Director, Service Provider Infrastructure

“The automotive industry reminds me of the telecom industry ten years ago.” Hearing that statement gave me faith that I was not hopelessly out of my depth at the recently concluded TU Automotive show in Detroit. Then, when I heard one of the so-called futurists on a panel tell the audience that auto manufacturers needed to start thinking like telcos my ears really perked up.

Turns out that after two full days of presentations and meetings at last week, this ICT analyst was more in my element than I expected to be. Although I think that utilities of today are much more like telecoms companies of ten years ago than auto manufacturers are, and I can’t really see how or why I would advise Ford to fashion its go-to-market like AT&T’s (the products are simply too different), there are several meaningful intersections between automotive and ICT. Read more of this post

Calix Meets the Double-Edged Sword of Services Expansion

Paul Rizzuto – Senior Analyst, Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • Calix expanded its professional services portfolio throughout 2016, strengthening existing operator relationships, but experienced the difficulties of organically growing services.
  • Calix displayed significant services revenue growth during Q1 2017, but was challenged by a subsequent cost of revenue increase.

Over the past year, Calix, a network equipment provider specializing in fiber access solutions, made a concerted effort to expand its professional services organization. Acting on customer demand, the vendor, which primarily operates within North America, began investing in services including network planning, product installation, testing, and network turn-up. While Calix had a modest professional services organization prior to its ramp up, the expansion has significantly increased the role of services, both internally and externally. By the end of 2016, Calix hired a new services lead and fully committed to services expansion, adding expertise and capabilities. Read more of this post

TM Forum Live! 2017: Open Source MANO Continues to Divide Opinion

David Snow – Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • Open source MANO initiatives continue to divide opinion across both the vendor and carrier communities, recent polls show.
  • The wisest carriers are likely those pursuing a dual track strategy – using a commercial MANO offering to go to market now, while evaluating open source MANO offerings as potential alternatives for the future.

During GlobalData’s “Vive le Forum! A Recap of TM Forum Live! 2017” webinar in May, we invited attendees to respond to the poll question “Open Source MANO projects have now reduced to two (ONAP and OSM). Will this help to accelerate operator MANO procurement?” The results were as follows:

It was exactly a 50-50 split (honest!) between those who thought YES and those who thought NO, furthermore no particular YES or NO reason dominated. This suggests that open source MANO remains a divisive issue in the industry as a whole (and yes, both vendors and carriers were represented and responded across all four options).

An earlier survey in March conducted by SDxCentral tended to confirm this conclusion, reporting that “26% of Users Will Not Consider Open Source MANO”. In the same report, 49% also said that they will consider open source MANO solutions “once they are more mature.” Of course, no poll is ever an accurate portrayal of the real world and you can always poke holes in the questions, demographics and sample sizes, but I think we can conclude from the general drift of these results that, at least for now, open source MANO of any flavor, has not gained majority acceptance.


But will it ever gain that acceptance? Most players accepted and indeed welcomed open source initiatives in the VIM domain (OpenStack and OPNFV) and even its extension into the VNFM domain (OpenStack Tacker) – but open source in the NFVO and above? That came as a real surprise. GlobalData discussions with NFV MANO vendors at TM Forum Live! 2017 revealed a full spectrum of views on the “intrusion” of open source MANO into the market and whether incorporation – either piecemeal or wholesale – into vendor offerings was a good idea.

On the “far YES” side we found Amdocs maintaining a very positive view, given its position with AT&T, ECOMP and ONAP, effectively replacing its earlier commercial product with ONAP and even tweeting in May “These numbers would probably be significantly different if the survey was taken today #ONAP” in response to the SDN Central survey. On the “far NO” side, vendors like HPE were really concerned that, despite some of its advantages, the prospect of open source MANO alternatives has introduced an unwelcome “pause” in carrier minds that they can ill afford to take. Most other vendors are scattered somewhere in between, although more naturally clustered toward the “NO” end.

At the end of the day, however, it will be carriers, not vendors that decide the fate of open source MANO. Our impression at TM Forum Live! 2017 was that many of them indeed are just “waiting,” which we consider a risky strategy. The wisest carriers are likely those pursuing a dual track approach – using a commercial MANO offering to go to market now, while evaluating open source MANO offerings as potential alternatives for the future.