At the TM Forum Management World Americas event held recently in Florida, there was a concentrated push toward the adoption of TM Forum Frameworx as the global standard for definition and determination of requirements for OSS/BSS. And it seems that message is getting across as we’ve started to hear more about Frameworx from customers and prospects and even started to see references to the framework in procurement documents. A lot of the discussion with operators is still exploratory – What is it? What does it include? What does it do for me? – and so far reaction has been mixed.
Frameworx is a framework standard. That means that it is used to frame discussion of business processes by defining terms and specifying interactions. It does not define interfaces or technical specifications for development and interoperability. The value of framework standards lies in their ability to create consistent functional requirements, terminology and definitions that all can use without confusion. To that end, I would say “mission accomplished”. There is now a consistency in the definition of terms and approaches to OSS/BSS because of the eTOM, the SID and the TAM (existing TM Forum models that are the basis for Frameworx). Continuing efforts to better define these functions and the processes that engage them are valuable to the understanding of the way a communications business works and the way that OSS/BSS can pave the way for transformation and more efficient operations.
There is real value in the use of common references, terms and definitions. It streamlines and improves the procurement process, which benefits both operators and vendors. But I’m still a bit confused as to the value of certification for vendors. Certainly it is a quick way for operators to know that a vendor is on the same page with regard to requirements definition – but compliance doesn’t measure the capabilities, performance or quality of the product being delivered. Perhaps by training both operators and vendors, the TM Forum ensures that each are reading from the same sheet of music – but as each vendor implements their version of the framework, operators will still be required to compare apples to oranges in order to determine the most effective solution for their unique needs.
Certainly this is all said with a great deal of vendor bias, but the point is that going through the standards certification process is a costly and time-consuming effort. That effort is entirely justified and valuable provided that said certification relieves some of the time and expense that is currently part of the trial and evaluation process. While it is probably too soon to tell, if that doesn’t happen then vendors are justified in questioning the value of certification.
Operators need to define innovative business processes and select OSS/BSS that enables competitive differentiation. To that end, operators will still be responsible for evaluating solutions and ensuring that each meets, not the generic requirements of a framework, but the specific requirements of an operator competing in a ruthless market.
ConceptWave has been a pioneer with Frameworx conformance. Recently, ConceptWave completed their second round of certifications. You can find the recent report here: