Sunday, March 2, 2008

brave new world of OSS/BSS (part 2)

the other aspect of the new side of OSS/BSS can be labeled as communications 2.0 (taking a page from the book of web 2.0) we can consider it to be loosely made up of:

1- technology
2- consumers and
3- market place

technology: present day web enabled technology lets rich experience delivered over the air via integrated devices this works well with the telcos

Consumer: expectations are driven by web 2.0 apps, such as you tube, skype etc. which makes telcos offer more value addition via content rather then just the network

market place: significant deregulation and available spectrum, along with a healthy competition in a never seen before, leveled playing field has not only opened up new possibilities but has also made the science of doing business much more complicated

This new era of communications has also redefined business strategy for service providers, the transformation being seen now a days is again customer centric, the business is no longer working so to find a customer for there product, rather its now about finding a product for the customer.

Friday, February 29, 2008

brave new world of OSS/BSS (part 1)

convergence has been the ‘it’ word in OSS/BSS world, the word has changed meaning considerably over the last decade or so, in fact it has changed so much that its now used in a totally opposite way, a decade ago convergence meant that a company will have a razor sharp focus on a product and will specialize in selling/delivering that one product, now it means the ability of a company to bundle up a number of offerings.
Convergence has turned out to be a boon for the customer, since customer is now the center of the OSS/BSS world.

As a natural extension of convergence, we have seen huge advances in the way revenue management, pricing and product catalog's are being implemented in a Telco, one of the things happening is the desire of IT leadership for implementing standards based infrastructure (SOA and what not) which has intern helped management reach goals such as:

1- simplification
2- cost reduction and
3- improved ability to respond to market pressure (quick turn around time)

Monday, October 29, 2007

SAP RM_CA and CBRM integration

SAP Revenue Management–Contract Accounting (SAP RM-CA), is a revenue management system that SAP offers to the telecommunications industry, Portal has an integrated solution for SAP RM-CA, telecommunications providers with the challenge of revenue management, such as controlling revenue leakage they experience as they roll out new services. May find this solution quite useful. From the press release:“By integrating the two systems, SAP RM-CA Manager enables you to supplement billing and accounting features available in Portal with additional receivables and collections management capabilities of SAP RM-CA”.

With SAP RM-CA Manager, you can first use Portal’s functionality to perform rating and discounting and run billing for accounts that Portal shares with SAP RM-CA. You can then initiate post-billing and accounts receivable (A/R) activities, which include applying payments, issuing refunds, calculating fees and interests, and so on. You perform most of the A/R activities using SAP RM-CA, while some are performed in Portal.

The billing data accumulates in the Portal database each time Portal runs billing, generally every day. While running billing, Portal generates a bill for each account that has a billing date of the previous day (or earlier if you don’t run billing daily). To finalize the bill, Portal changes the status of the bill items associated with the bill from pending to open. Open bill items stop accumulating charges, which makes applying payments and performing other A/R activities possible.

SAP RM-CA Manager collects all open bill items from the Portal database and transfers them to SAP RM-CA. SAP RM-CA posts them as open items and can now display the accounts’ billed balances and apply payments, issue credits, perform write-offs, and so on.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

more on telcoOne

was recently going through some press releases surrounding TelcoOne and SAP RM-CA portal integration, thought I will add to the present posts a little background on TelcoOne. TelcoOne was jointly developed by Portal and Siebel Systems, idea was to develop an end-to-end solution that would make Portal billing software 'Infranet' (now Oracle CBRM) able to work with Siebles CRM right out of the box. TelcoOne's aims as stated by portal at the time was to increase call center efficiency and flexibility, and to introduce new services at a fraction of the cost of traditional custom-developed billing applications.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Siebel CRM integration with Oracle CBRM

recently had an exchange with friends over Siebel CRM/ORACLE CBRM integration here is the jest of it for the rest of the Enterprise developers community.

CBRM/CRM integration depends on

1- CBRM version
2- the extent of integration desired (functionality)
3- sync direction(uni/bi directional)
4- IT budget/licensing arrangement with oracle

if you have portal 7.0 running on the client side then the only thing you can do out-of-box is have EAI (Enterprise Applications Integration) Manager installed, what it will do is it will publish events that happen in CBRM out to an http port in XML format, this way Siebel Communications can monitor this port and can determine whats going on (this is essentially a uni directional approach, where only events are
being published to the outside world, and siebel is not controlling any thing in CBRM). Many clients wouldn't be interested in this minimalist functionality(you need to research further if there is more to EAI then what i just said), the things that are usually asked from connectors is

1- sync Siebel product catalog with CBRM Price list
2- Account management/order processing and product management happening only at Siebel Communications end, should be reflected automatically in CBRM

With 7.0 one option is to use an existing middleware and have siebel send out transactions to CBRM in XML, on CBRM end those transactions end up as an xml file in one of our directories, we would have an application polling this directory and once a complete file is detected we can parse it and fire the appropriate opcode and send back the return code via the same route to siebel. This would be your best bet if the customer doesn't want to spend money on licensing further products (such as oracle recommended tibco etc.)and/or has only a limited set of transactions that needs to be integrated.

With Oracle CBRM 7.3, they have a pretty elaborate integration setup straight out of the box but here is where the IT budget comes in, since its an optional component so its licensed separately, its called the TelcoOne Manager, it comprises of modifications (mostly configuration) done to siebel and installation of TIBCO business works as the middleware, it comes with a Web Service wrapper so it can talk SOAP, this is the most comprehensive integration solution so far.

Details on EAI and TelcoOne Manager can be found in CBRM documentation, if the support package for CBRM allows then maybe ORACLE can be asked to enhance an existing 7.0 implementation and make 7.0 work with telcoOne (since its a separate component it might work with out much tinkering).

Maybe some one can comment on the state of affairs with the new Fusion middleware, will it make TelcoOne Manager irrelevant in the near future?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

oracle acquisition timeline

This blog was originally posted in march of 2007 on my personal blog, I have decided to dedicate a separate blog for CBRM and so here it is again to keep it all togather.

Just when we all thought Oracle was done shopping (at least for now)after spending more then $20 billion USD in the last 3 years, we got the news of yet another acquisition, case in point Hyperion Solutions. Starting January 2005 we saw Larry implementing the then new growth strategy which puts vertical market product acquisitions squarely in the center. Oracle believes that for it to reach its 20% growth target for the next 5 years it has to pursue the new strategy as it can no longer rely on just organic growth. Oracle's chief geek executed this strategy by targeting industry segments such as retail, government, and financial services, where key rivals like SAP and Baan have not yet found a huge audience (Baan ERP is now owned by infor and is known as SSA ERP LN, It is basically Baan ERP project "Gemini" that runs on Unix servers).

The only thing left to be seen now is how oracle leverages these pure play acquisitions and makes them work with its core competencies, if Oracle is able to actually deliver on its promise and pull it off, it will be a success story that will be taught in business schools and told in corporate boardrooms for years to come.

oracle acquisition timeline


Just to give an idea of how much depth oracle added to its product suite here is a time line of its acquisitions between 2005 and 2007.

Since I have long been working on Portal Infranet Billing System implementation extension and deployment, therefore that acquisition last year was of particular interest to me, one thing that strikes me immediately is that with Portal Infranet and Siebel, Oracle is now the only enterprise solutions provider that can provide a truly end to end single vendor CRM solution for Telecoms and ISPs, and if you tie in to this equation PeopleSoft, it becomes a solution that can give SAP executives many a sleepless nights.

Just added (Saturday March 31st 2007): I saw another news release regarding Communications Billing and Revenue Management System (CBRM, previously Portal-Infranet) being now available for the Linux platform, I think given that linux is the one of the most deployed web hosting platform, its a very smart move on behalf of Oracle to align themselves with the open source platform, though I think if given the fact that MySql is maturing very nicely and is catching up with many of the features readily available with Oracle, MySQL will be the first database choice for all those willing to host on an open source database.

I guess Oracle's remedy for that is theInnoDB and SleepyCat (Berkeley DB) acquisition. everything has a sale price and Larry seems to always make an offer no one can refuse.