2006 Top Ten: Big OSS Highlights

It's been a year of shrinkage for the telecom software sector, with mergers and acquisitions dominating the news

December 27, 2006

5 Min Read
2006 Top Ten: Big OSS Highlights

The past year in the telecom software sector has been dominated by merger and acquisition activity, with a number of major IT players, most notably Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), buying their way into Tier 1 vendor positions.

That trend, plus a view of the current OSS (operations support systems) sector's participants, are highlighted in our new report, Who Makes What: OSS .

But it wasn't just a year of due diligence -- one OSS player had to clean up the mess left behind by its former CEO, who was on the run from the feds...

10. Big Gun on the Run
Give it up for Comverse Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: CMVT) The company has had a topsy-turvy year, including some significant M&A and financial compliance issues. (See Comverse Faces Delisting, Comverse Acquires Netonomy, and Comverse Nabs NetCentrex for $164M.)

But that was somewhat overshadowed by the story of its now former CEO, Kobi Alexander. (See Comverse CEO, CFO Resign.)

For the details of why he ended up on the FBI's Most Wanted list, and ended up in an African jail, check out Cops Catch 'Most Wanted' Ex-CEO.

Alexander, by the way, is still fighting extradition from Nambia.

9. Tech Mahindra in the Stocks
Tech Mahindra Ltd. is proof that the Indian telecom market is hotter than a chicken jalfrezi. The company joined the stock market in August and its share price rocketed. (See Tech Mahindra Soars on Debut.)

Since then it has announced a major deal with close ally BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), which is still an investor in the Indian software, integration, and services firm, and earlier in the year formed a partnership with Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) (See BT Picks Tech Mahindra and Moto Makes New Friends.)

Expect more positive news and growth from this company in 2007.

8. Where Art Thou, PrOSSpero?
OK, so it's Romeo, but we're milking the Shakespearean connection for all it's worth after the industry's OSS organization, the TM Forum , launched a new program called Prosspero that aims to make it easier for carriers to integrate multiple back-office software systems and make them interoperable. (See TMF Tackles Software Procurement and TMF Touts Prosspero.)

Prospero, you'll remember from school, is the lead character in one of Bill's finest, The Tempest.

It's an important initiative, and one we hope will be followed in 2007 by another initiative, maybe called Corialanoss.

7. Spirent's Annus HoribilisSpirent Communications plc had a tough year, much of it stemming from its lackluster OSS business. (See OSS Lapse Hits Spirent.)

Job losses and earnings warnings followed, but the worst was saved until last, as activist investor Sherborne Investors staged a boardroom coup and took effective control of the company. (See Spirent Cuts More Jobs, Spirent Slumps on Update, and Spirent Suffers Boardroom Coup .)

6. Telstra Unveils OSS Revamp
In line with many other Tier 1 carriers, Australia's Telstra Corp. Ltd. (ASX: TLS; NZK: TLS) is deploying a next generation network (NGN), which means it's also revamping its back office. (See Telstra Unveils Switch to IP.)

In July the carrier unveiled the companies that will help it achieve that transformation, including the likes of Amdocs Ltd. (NYSE: DOX), IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), InfoVista SA , Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL), MetaSolv Software Inc. (Nasdaq: MSLV) (now part of Oracle), and Syndesis Ltd. , among others. (See Telstra Outlines Massive OSS Project.)

Expect those names to crop up in other major OSS revamps.

5. What's In a Name?
Remember Flextronics Software Systems (FSS)? It's not called that anymore. Now it's Aricent Inc. . Weird name, huh? (See Aricent Crashes Telecom Software Party.)

And why should we care? Well, it has annual revenues of $300 million, and more than 350 customers, including many of the world's major telecom equipment firms and carriers. And that makes it a player. Expect to hear more of this firm in the coming 12 months.

4. Big Blue's OSS Gets Fatter
IBM finished off 2005 with the purchase of Micromuse, one of the best known names in OSS. (See IBM Tiptoes to Telecom With Micromuse.)

Now it's ended 2006 with the purchase of a not so well known name, Vallent Corp. , for a reported $200 million or so. (See IBM Buys Another OSS Firm.)

What does Vallent do? Wireless performance monitoring. Is that important? Yes, to every single mobile operator that's offering data services to its customers, and show me one that isn't. This makes Vallent, which has hundreds of wireless carrier customers, an important piece in IBM's telecom software puzzle.

3. Amdocs Shells Out for Cramer
It was awhile coming, but Amdocs got there in the end, paying a whopping $375 million for inventory management specialist Cramer Systems. (See VCs Cash In on Cramer and Amdocs Snaps Up Cramer.)

Amdocs has been after an inventory firm for a while -- it was pipped at the post by Telcordia Technologies Inc. when Granite Systems became available for purchase in 2004. (See Telcordia Nearly Blew Granite Deal.)

Now billing giant Amdocs has quite a bundle to offer carriers, and may not be done spending yet.

2. Consult the Oracle?
Oracle would live to be one of the main companies that carriers go to when they need to figure out how to run their networks and businesses.

So it's been buying companies that will help put its name on the A-list Rolodex. The latest purchase, and one of the most important, is of MetaSolv, which, after a rough few years, had got itself back in shape, was growing its quarterly revenues, and was winning important deals again. (See Oracle Buys More OSS With MetaSolv, C&W Picks MetaSolv, MetaSolv Wins at Telstra, MetaSolv Reports Q2, and BT Uses MetaSolv OSS.)

1. Will Telcordia Change Hands Again?
It's the question on every Telcordia bondholder's lips this New Year -- will the OSS giant, which was snapped up by two private equity firms in March 2005 for $1.35 billion, be sold again, for how much, and to whom? (See Is Telcordia Preparing for a Sale? and Telcordia Up for Grabs Again?)

We're almost willing 2007 to hurry up and come on down...

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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