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Vodafone Idea Plots Cloud BSS Future With Optiva

Ray Le Maistre
10/22/2019

Optiva has struck a significant upgrade deal with Vodafone Idea that will see the Indian mobile operator giant put its faith in a cloud-based charging solution from the disruptive vendor.

Optiva, formerly Redknee, was the incumbent prepaid charging system supplier to Vodafone India, which merged with Idea Cellular in 2018 to form what is now India's largest mobile operator with more than 380 million customers.

Now the former Vodafone India is starting to implement a cloud-based BSS strategy, something it has been talking to Optiva about since late 2017, according to the vendor's CEO Danielle Royston. (Note: Vodafone Idea's integration has not reached as far as the BSS platforms as yet -- the former Idea Cellular is still using the incumbent charging platform from Ericsson.)

The operator is starting its shift to a cloud-based charging system with a commercial pilot in one "circle" (service area), the Punjab, where more than 6 million customers will be linked to Optiva's Charging Engine system housed on a Kubernetes-based private cloud platform. If the deployment goes well, the operator will look to roll out the platform nationwide and also deploy it on public cloud platforms. "So, no pressure…" says Royston, who has adopted an aggressive public cloud-focused strategy for Optiva as she tries to claw the company back into profitable, normalized operations after several years of financial pain.

The model of using a private cloud platform initially is one that Royston expects to see adopted by many large operators. "Vodafone Idea is too big, with too many subscribers, to go straight to the public cloud, but ultimately that is where the big savings are. With a private cloud deployment there are some soft operational benefits, but the public cloud is where operators will be able to make big savings," she stresses.

Why this matters
The deployment is significant for both the operator and the vendor. For Vodafone Idea it is part of a broader shift towards cloud-based platforms -- it just announced a major deal with Red Hat to build out a countrywide "universal cloud" system across more than 100 data centers -- it's that platform which will host Optiva's software.

Such moves are needed if large operators are to cope with the significant data volumes that will be generated by a growing 4G customer base and, ultimately, from the use of 5G services. But there's an operational cost element to this as well, as Vodafone Idea is under significant competitive pressure from Reliance Jio and needs to be as lean as possible in its operational model if it is to hold on to its market-leading position and generate a profit.

For Optiva, a customer case study by a major operator, particularly one in India where supporting infrastructure such as power supplies can be an issue, would go a long way to persuading other operators that the public cloud is the suitable underlying platform for the BSS systems of the future. Naturally, Royston is out to convince everyone that this is the case -- check out her guest appearance on the Light Reading podcast to get her full perspective.

But it's not only Optiva that believes the public cloud will play a significant role in telco operations: There will be plenty of others arguing the same (but also some doubters too) at Light Reading's upcoming Software Driven Operations summit in London on November 5 (fireworks guaranteed…).

For more on Optiva and the shift towards public cloud deployments of telco OSS and BSS functionality, see:

— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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