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Appropriate Customization for an “Out-of-The-Box” Solution

Many service providers talk about off-the-shelf solutions, meaning that they need a significant amount of customization of any COTS software. To understand what is needed, it helps to step back and look at why service providers customize COTS software.

The first is simple branding. Every service provider’s web site is their brand, and so any information presented by an OSS system has to be presented within the style and structure of that web presence. This is true even within the service provider’s internal systems.  As a provider of an out-of-the-box service assurance system, it’s important for us to remember that the data we collect and the information we generate is yours, not ours. Therefore, we believe we have to provide more than just a northbound interface to the raw data; our customers also need access to the expertise and analytics that we provide as well. That means multiple open APIs to multiple points in the service assurance system.

The second is processes and procedures. Every service provider has their own unique set of processes on how things are done. These business processes are part of the unique intellectual advantage that each service provider competes with. Therefore, because a COTS OSS component has to fit into that environment it has to be customized to play its role in those business processes. That means the software has to offer the appropriate provisioning and configuration APIs as well as the northbound APIs

Finally, the third is better described as personalization. There are many different users of the information provided by OSS/BSS systems, and the software must of necessity be personalized to give each user the information they need to do their unique job. This affects everything from the reports and visualizations that can be personalized for each user to the underlying security system that controls access to that information.