The TeleManagement Forum (TMF) announced in May that it was assimilating the OSS through Java (OSS/J) Initiative in a bid to achieve for OSS/BSS standards the sort of ubiquity currently enjoyed by the USB port. As of July 1 the OSS/J becomes a working program of the TMF.
The merger comes at an interesting juncture for the OSS/BSS industry. Once upon a time senior telecoms managers viewed OSS/BSS as a necessary evil: costly, unglamorous and mysterious stuff hidden away out of sight in the backroom. Today, although arguably still rather arcane and still not much more of a beauty queen, OSS/BSS is undeniably in the face of telco management and, increasingly, right out there in the front of the house.
Better support solutions are now seen as critical to the automation of telco business processes, increased profitability and the successful commercialization of new services.
Software vs the network
In fact, according to Keith Willetts, TMF chairman and keynote speaker at the 2006 TeleManagement World held in Nice in the month of the merger, some support systems are becoming the service itself. 'Key features of services are coming out of the software, not out of the network,' he told the audience.
According to the TMF, the journey of telecoms support functionality out of the wings and onto center stage has been both a cause and an effect of advances made over the years in formulating relevant OSS/BSS process architectures, information architectures and system architectures. What's been missing up until now, though, is translation of how-to OSS/BSS architectures into the mass-market adoption of real interoperable standards. The merger is aimed at doing just that through linkage of the TMF's standards program with the OSS/J's suite of Java, XML and Web services APIs.
Felicitously, the union does a couple of other things as well. Firstly, it adds power to the TMF's elbow in the standards-making arena. Secondly, it heads off the possibility that the work of the two separate organizations might have started to diverge with, for example, the OSS/J perhaps pursuing its own version of the TMF's new generation operations software and systems (NGOSS), and the TMF developing implementation standards that compete with OSS/J. The consequence of that could have been confusion in, and fragmentation of, the marketplace.
The recruitment of the OSS/J has been marked by the TMF with the launch of its Prosspero initiative. Prosspero is aimed at solving the problem of slow uptake of paper-based standards by providing the development community with open source code-based standards and a full support ecosystem. TE