Light Reading

Oracle Buys Another OSS Firm

Ray Le Maistre
9/4/2007
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Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) has bolstered its OSS portfolio further with the acquisition of Irish telecom software firm Netsure Telecom for an undisclosed sum. (See Oracle Buys Netsure.)

In doing so, Oracle has bought its way into one of the OSS sector's emerging niches: network planning and optimization, which is likely to become increasingly important as carriers seek to sweat their existing assets (ewww!) while planning new IP network rollouts.

Netsure is a six-year-old software firm based in Dublin that is focused on two areas of carrier back-office operations: helping operators to manage their network capacity and to identify and plan expansion requirements; and managing the integrity of the data that carriers hold on their networks (a process known as data discovery and reconciliation).

It's not a big company, but neither Netsure nor Oracle will talk about how many staff it has (though it's believed to have about 20 employees), the Irish company's revenues, the acquisition price, or the size of Netsure's customer list.

The company has, however, named three of its customers -- Irish incumbent eircom , Cable and Wireless plc (NYSE: CWP), and a part of the Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) empire -- and also claims to have a "major North American operator" using its Netsure Active Network Optimisation software suite.

The Oracle acquisition, due to be completed before the end of this month, is the latest in a string of OSS and associated services software acquisitions made by Oracle, which is now one of the leading players in the telecom software sector. (See Oracle Buys More OSS With MetaSolv, Oracle Acquires Portal, Oracle Buying Into Service Delivery , and Oracle Acquires Telephony@Work.)

Oracle's biggest leap into the OSS space so far has been the acquisition of MetaSolv, which specializes in network provisioning, service activation, and inventory management. And, according to Netsure CEO Barry Murphy, it was Netsure's work alongside MetaSolv that brought it to the attention of Oracle's Communications Global Business Unit team. "From the moment we spoke with them they could see there were synergies" with the MetaSolv capabilities Oracle had already acquired.

That's because Netsure's software works alongside, and uses information from, standard OSS systems. Its data integrity tool performs network audits and matches the resulting data with information held by the carrier's incumbent inventory management system to identify any discrepancies, which can then be fixed.

The network planning software uses data held by financial and OSS systems, mainly the inventory management system, to identify where the network is being underused, where network capacity can be freed up, and, using information from a carrier's marketing team, to predict how much capacity is needed to be able to deliver new services and to predict where network capacity might run out so that upgrades can be planned.

That process is becoming more important as carriers increasingly seek to make best use of their resources. "We're helping carriers to become lean operators," says Murphy.

In addition, carriers are using the planning tools to determine how much spare capacity they have when planning to bid for wholesale capacity contracts.

Murphy claims this focus on existing rather than greenfield networks, and the ability to build capacity planning models based on marketing information, sets it apart from other network planning specialists such as VPIsystems Inc. , Opnet Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: OPNT), and Wandl Inc .

Not that the other firms are lacking business: VPIsystems, in particular, has won some landmark deals with Tier 1 carriers that are building out their next-generation networks, such as BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) and Telstra Corp. Ltd. (ASX: TLS; NZK: TLS) -- all of which highlights the increasing importance of network planning for new, as well as legacy, networks. (See BT Uses VPIsystems's OSS and Telstra Outlines Massive OSS Project.)

Oracle's acquisition is also just the latest move in an ongoing consolidation in the OSS sector that has seen the likes of IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), CA Technologies (Nasdaq: CA) (a.k.a. Computer Associates), and Oracle join the likes of Amdocs Ltd. (NYSE: DOX), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), and Telcordia Technologies Inc. as the sector's heavy hitters. (See M&A Reshapes OSS Sector, 2006 Top Ten: Big OSS Highlights, Syndesis Strikes $165M Takeover, Ericsson Buys Billing Vendor LHS, Telcordia's Takeover Shortlist , and SAP's Rising in OSS.)

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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