BSS in the Cloud

Accepting BSS-as-a-Service is a big step for operators, but we’re not talking about a dumbed-down, one-size-fits-all system.

The primary motivation for pursuing cloud-based BSS is, perhaps not surprisingly, cost reduction - particularly IT infrastructure and operating costs.  However, after cost reductions, the benefits attracting the most interest are on-demand scalability of IT infrastructure, the rapid introduction of a new BSS system, and the consolidation of the BSS environment. Overall, there is strong operator belief in the ability of cloud-based BSS to not only reduce IT operating and infrastructure costs but to also scale flexibly according to demand.

Operator benefits of cloud-based BSS

Our analysis highlighted some interesting regional variations.  For example, operators in Asia and Europe were more interested in the ability of cloud-based BSS to scale up or down on demand.  In the Asia Pacific region, although comprised of both mature and developing markets, there is much room to grow subscribers and service revenues in many countries.  It makes sense that operators in this region would want more flexible scalability of back office IT systems that can expand with the introduction of new subscribers, services and tariffs as needed.  In Europe, where most markets are mature, operator interest in on-demand scalability may be due to the anticipation of having to process a variety of new connections with the expected growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) market.

It is also worth noting that different types of operators see different advantages of cloud-based BSS.  For example, fixed-line operators had the highest interest in consolidating the BSS environment, possibly reflecting a larger amount of legacy back office systems compared to other types of operators. Similarly, cable and satellite operators are most interested in being able to introduce a new BSS system quickly, as well as lower IT infrastructure costs. This could also indicate a prevalence of legacy systems as faster deployment times and lower infrastructure costs would improve the inefficiencies of older back office systems.

So the enthusiasm is there. What about the barriers? Well, unsurprisingly, concerns about security and data privacy are universally perceived to be the biggest barrier to moving BSS to the public cloud, and are top of mind for network operators and service providers worldwide.  Tough data privacy laws make operators reluctant to move back office IT systems outside their own jurisdiction, and high-profile data breaches have created a perception among consumers that their data is not safe with any kind of large company. With heightened customer sensitivity, it is understandable that operators and service providers would adopt a cautious approach to moving IT systems that process customers’ personal data.  Of course there are also other potential hurdles in moving BSS to the public cloud, including the availability and reliability of public cloud platforms, internal hesitancy towards change, and local data regulation issues.

Europe is a good example of these local issues. EU regulations require customer data to be kept within EU countries, while Germany mandates that customer data cannot be removed from the country at all. Therefore, any cloud-based deployment has the potential to not comply unless it is designed correctly and the public cloud provider can support those requirements.

Specialist cloud providers can help operators get to grips with those data privacy and security issues. Operators need the absolute guarantee of data security, privacy compliance and disaster recovery, and specialist providers have data centers which are arguably more secure than some operator data centers – we have seen that some of those are not hack-free.

Accepting BSS-as-a-Service is a big step for operators, but we’re not talking about a dumbed-down, one-size-fits-all system. Cloud BSS can be fully sophisticated on the public cloud, highly-configurable and essentially "owned" by the operator. It’s not a case of sharing a service, or breaking down an existing offering and making it fit into a cloud environment. To work effectively, cloud BSS must be a fully-integrated system. Deploying cloud BSS considerably reduces the time needed to commission the system and adapt it to local market requirements. Deployment on a public cloud makes the system almost immediately ready to use, avoiding the need for a lengthy infrastructure procurement and software installation project.


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