At Netcracker’s analyst summit, held on May 10-11 in London, customers and operational evolution took center stage. Unlike some of its competitors, Netcracker focused on its extensive product and services portfolio as well as commercial offerings, solutions and packages. Netcracker neither emphasized technology nor individually branded products – rather the real story was around how Netcracker could deliver a new operating environment efficiently – and with procedural improvements, not simply software technology improvements.

A simple but compelling story

Netcracker’s story was simple, but compelling: they would bring together software modules, the existing pre-integration, and a set of best practices. By delivering best practices, CSPs would benefit, and risk would be controlled. Simple, huh?

Simple, yes, but our industry has a long history of needless customization, unique software environments, and unique processes. Sometimes the perceived need for customization is a result of historical decisions, other times it results from favored ways of working (read this: “an unwillingness to change”) – regardless, customization leads to higher costs to deploy, integrate and maintain.  Furthermore, we can presume that many of those processes are less-than-ideal – not everyone can be best, can they? So, if Netcracker has managed to lead its clients to converge on a proven approach, or at least to begin with that approach and deviate minimally, they have scaled a mountain. This alone is worthy of our attention.

The balance of the two-day event supported this strategy. Netcracker speakers gave compelling talk that began with “blueprints” – the best practices in a codified form. Netcracker also spoke of a standardized process to define the fundamental business needs, begin with a blueprint and then track and minimize deviations from this agreed goal.

Customer evidence

Supporting this message too were the customers that played such a prominent role in the event. Most of the first day was dedicated to letting customers speak. While their firms and backgrounds were diverse (small and large, from the Americas, Europe and Asia…), each emphasized a few key points:

  • Successful deployment with improved operations
  • Relatively short time-to-operation
  • Satisfaction with the result
  • Importance of process over code

We at Appledore hope that this suggests that the industry is losing its conviction that every CSP is somehow different. While yes, they differ, and in fact strive to differentiate, we must recognize that mobile operators and broadband operations across the globe are more similar than different, that the industry configures a relatively limited set of hardware, that commercial plans follow a well-known set of templates, and that operations therefore should be more similar than different. If, and only if, we can, as an industry move to that point of view, then we can begin to share best practices, models, DevOps artifacts, and myriad work that can make all operators more efficient and higher quality, without impinging their ability to compete.

Moving beyond technology

Our summary is that OSS evolution success is not a technology problem; it is a process problem and a people problem — and requires a complete, pro-active delivery methodology. Netcracker shows the way here!

If this was the only take-away from the event, it would be a worthwhile two days.