OSS News: A Death in the Family

NICE, France –- Telemanagement World Nice 2007 –- This year's show here in Nice might be busy, buzzing, and confident, but not every company has managed to capitalize on the growing spend by carriers on their back office systems.

British minnow Evolved Networks Ltd. , which developed a planning tool for access networks, is shutting down after four years in business. The company was spun out of BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) in 2003, and it was still brokering industry relationships earlier this year, but CTO John Mellis tells Light Reading there's just a handful of staff left winding down the company. (See Tech Mahindra, Evolved Team and A New Chance for Old Startups?)

Many attendees here at the OSS show believe Evolved won't be the only small specialist to go extinct in the next year as those firms find it tough to compete with the very large players that can offer multiple, integrated capabilities, integration support, and the financial muscle to ensure carriers they'll be around for many years to come.

Delegates here agree that the telecom software sector's specialists can survive only if they: are acquired, as has happened on plenty of occasions in the past few years; or develop a very tight partnership program with multiple large companies that can deliver consistent new business opportunities. (See M&A Reshapes OSS Sector and Syndesis Strikes $165M Takeover.)

And to make it even harder for the OSS sector's specialist startups, of which there are still hundreds -- just check out the lists in our Who Makes What: OSS -- some of the industry's biggest names are collaborating to attract the back-office revamps that carriers are forced to undertake as they plan next-generation network rollouts.

This week, for example, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) announced separate partnerships with Nokia Networks and Amdocs Ltd. (NYSE: DOX), two of the OSS sector's heaviest hitters. (See Amdocs, Cisco Team on OSS, Cisco, Nokia Siemens Team Up, Amdocs Beefs Up Its OSS, and Nokia Siemens Shows Its OSS.)

Other OSS heavyweights have also been flexing their muscles here in Nice, with Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) boasting of its significant software business, Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) launching a new multi-vendor network management system, and Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) unveiling new capabilities. (See Ericsson Launches Network IQ, AlcaLu Claims #2 Spot, Agilent Unveils New OSS , and Agilent Troubleshoots IMS.)

Heavy Reading analyst at large Caroline Chappell believes that the large equipment vendors will be instrumental in OSS developments in the coming years, especially as the boundaries between telecom management software, service delivery platforms (SDPs), and IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) capabilities begin to blur.

"Incumbent vendors that offer both OSS/system integration products and NGN equipment hold enormous power in shaping how the two domains interact," noted Chappell in her recent report, "OSS Transformation: Opportunities & Challenges."

"Network equipment vendors that have OSS product and systems integration groups as well as equipment groups working on self-managing network standards will play a large role in defining the boundaries between OSS and NGN capabilities. Suppliers such as Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco Systems, Ericsson, and Nokia Siemens have the breadth and depth of product offerings and customer bases to strongly influence how NGOSS [new generation OSS] merges with IT-centric SDP and IMS technologies," she concluded.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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