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As a leading provider of Next Generation Assurance, Automation and Analytics solutions to the largest operators in the world, MYCOM OSI is shaping the future of OSS and Network Management in the era of Cloud and IoT. In an interview with Telecom Review, Mounir Ladki, co-founder, President and CTO of MYCOM OSI, talked about this issue in a broader aspect, showing us his expertise in mobile telecoms, IT, OSS and software development.

Tell us about what MYCOM OSI is doing in the telecom OSS sector and how it sees the future of OSS, with the evolving digitalization of telco business?
MYCOM OSI is playing a key role in enabling the transformation of many of our customers around the world, which include Tier 1 CSPs such as Deutsche Telekom, Globe Telecom, STC, Telefonica, Telenor, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and Vodafone. And we hope to make an announcement soon with a leading digital service provider in the Middle East.

We help CSPs to simplify and rationalize their service assurance systems across all networks: mobile and fixed, enterprise and IT/datacenter, so that they can maintain their networks at peak performance and maximize the utilization of the network resources. We are also helping to build operations centers that are predictive, customer-centric, analytics-driven and highly automated to help CSPs achieve speed and massive opex savings.

Another focus area is assurance of digital services. Our digital SQM system assures and helps to monetize the quality of Video/IPTV and other digital services. This helps CSPs to offer a differentiated service experience and monetize it through analytics.

MYCOM OSI has 'evolutionized' its product portfolio by introducing the integrated Experience Assurance and Analytics™ (EAA™) blueprint, which incorporates a highly modernized engine, analytics and automation, to combine data from various sources and make it suitable for the digital service provider.

We are continuing to evolve the EAA™ system to address the challenges of IoT and 5G. Our ongoing contribution to the 5G Innovation Centre in UK (5GIC) will see us test 5G NaaS capability by monitoring and assuring the performance and QoS of network slices. This will include machine learning to help telcos monetize IoT assurance and analytics capabilities.

How do you see OSS-based automation helping CSPs achieve higher efficiencies or improved quality?
Automation of operations center processes is key to achieving success in the virtualized and digitalized telco cloud environment. Accuracy, speed and error-free operations are critical to the success of a digital business. Our products offer many automation techniques (AutoFlows™), especially for the NFV orchestration. AutoFlows™ are used for detecting service policy violations, managing configurations, automating root cause analysis and remediation, reducing MTTR.

By integrating analytics and automation, data can be visualized and actioned in the predictive operations center in a totally new manner, removing human latency and enabling real-time experience of the CSPs' customers.

CSPs have found new ways of combining analytics with automation for network monetization; for example, for discovering untapped capacity in their networks. This enables CSPs to direct services to those parts of the network that are underutilized.

Alternatively, capacity can be dynamically moved to areas of network where it will be utilized better. By automating the process of reducing or reorganizing capacity bottlenecks in the network, the operator can save big chunks of opex.

Which areas of the CSPs' processes should be automated first? Are there specific techniques that are being used to ensure efficient automation?
CSPs are working towards realizing a fully automated, zero-touch operations center using closed-loop corrective actions, complex algorithms and machine learning. And to support the dynamic SLAs of the telco cloud, the OSS is expected to support on-demand capacity configuration and dynamic topology changes, which can happen only through automated real-time network feedback and automatic configurations.

CSPs can identify processes and workflows that require a high level of automation and those that need manual control. As an example, automation of the CSPs' radio optimization processes, congestion management and backhaul optimization can dynamically optimize network capacity and release teams for high-skill complex analysis. Automation also includes use of open APIs and automating delivery and assurance of new on-demand services.

As I mentioned earlier, the combination of customer analytics with automation techniques can help CSPs to create and drive new personalized services for locations and customers, bringing almost instant monetization of available capacity.

What areas of OSS development are critical for managing higher speeds and higher data volumes over the next few years?
To make the digital business successful and to support the expected dynamicity, speed and scale of the digitalized networks, certain technologies and functionalities are necessary to be adopted into the platform.

Along with Open APIs and OpenStack for cloudification, it is important to develop a micro-services architecture, which uses DevOps-enabled iterative processes to quickly respond to customer needs by developing services faster. It also helps in faster delivery of services, quicker root cause analysis and real-time customer issues' resolution.

CSPs are now extending their business to become IoT service providers, offering high quality, high reliability networks and soon supported by 5G. For this, OSS will be enhanced with elasticity of database, Hadoop cluster technologies and machine learning to manipulate big data at faster rates in real-time.

Do you see a big role that big data analytics will play in understanding the customer needs and monetizing the digital services?
Analytics are critical to understand the usage of the telco cloud, the services it offers its customers and devices.

Analytics fuel the service agility expected in a virtualized network, other than optimizing capacity of the hyper-converged network.

CSPs can obtain trends on performance, capacity and faults using sophisticated machine learning-based analytics tools.

As an example, we have helped a Tier-1 CSP in the identification of revenue-generating locations, capabilities of handsets, customer behavior, uplink and downlink video traffic, consumption of video/conversational services, etc. This has allowed optimal network investments and helped in directing marketing campaigns for maximum business impact.

Network monetization and service personalization are only possible by running powerful analytics on big data. CSPs can proactively identify low congestion zones/ locations and rapidly fill spare capacity with revenue-generating traffic from new service offers such as video streaming, mobile TV or smartphone apps.

How do you see next generation OSS supporting the IoT initiatives? Will telco cloud and IoT services be managed through a single platform?
IoT networks are currently being overlaid on existing communication networks and many of the connected IoT devices will be controlled through reliable, cloud-based management systems, operated by CSPs. These systems will not only check the performance, but also provide real-time visualizations of the devices and insightful data generated by the devices.

IoT management systems will ensure IoT data reliability by managing the end-to-end performance of IoT gateways and inter-device communication, assuring that the IoT network and devices are operating in a faultless manner, delivering on the promise of 100% connectivity and 100% reliability.

Key IoT performance measurements will include the performance of the sensored devices, ensuring the QoS, reliability and security of those devices, specific to the industry verticals. In addition, CSPs will use these platforms for monetizing IoT analytics.

Our recent collaboration with a European energy savings company that provides energy-saving IoT devices to homes and enterprises has shown that digital telco OSS systems can be adapted to serve the needs of IoT companies. After this initial success, we are now investigating, working with other verticals like smart cities and eHospitals.

We understand the business potential that a data monetization platform like EAA™ can offer for generating insights to support smart city services and we are very excited about it.

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