IBM Wins Coveted Magic Quadrant Award for OSS

Gartner Group singles out IBM as the world leader in OSS

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Few, if any, industries are as competitive as telecommunications—and communications service providers (CSPs) continue to turn to IBM for best-in-class operations support systems (OSS) solutions to address their many challenges.

What sort of challenges might those be? Among others:

Toward addressing these and many other challenges, CSPs have embraced IBM's service assurance/fulfillment portfolio, making it the #1 solution worldwide—the overall leader in a hot market projected by Gartner Group to grow from $25 billion in 2010 to $32 billion in 2015.

And as a reflection of IBM's leadership, Gartner recently honored IBM with Magic Quadrant status in its first-ever award for the OSS field. In fact, IBM actually led even within the Magic Quadrant—placing well ahead of the nearest competitors both for its ability to execute and the completeness of its vision.

A complex market, in demand of best-in-class solutions

"Not every OSS solution provider can claim expertise in cloud, but IBM can draw upon not just its own, but all of its partners' history of successful cloud engagements to empower CSPs in this very hot area."

How did Gartner come to choose IBM as the unquestioned Magic Quadrant leader for its inaugural OSS award?

Let's take a look at how Gartner perceives CSP context—its changing challenges and requirements—then consider how IBM's Smarter Communications portfolio matches up.

To begin with, Gartner cites growing pressure to reduce operational costs, yet at the same time improve on the customer experience—in sum, accomplish more while spending less to do it. For this reason, CSPs look for OSS solution portfolios with a comprehensive feature set and proven track record. Their ultimate goal is to drive up the most important metric of all—customer satisfaction—and OSS portfolios are seen as a powerful means toward that end, given the right solution.

Also important to CSPs is the fact that their infrastructures are increasingly diverse—driven by heterogeneous technologies. As more and more systems and solutions are deployed, the challenge of managing them all for holistic business value increases in proportion. This is particularly true given the way technologies have historically been addressed via largely-separate silos; while one silo may be optimized well within its own context, lack of integration across silos can reduce overall performance.

Given the rapid rate of technological evolution and convergence in the CSP space—fixed, mobile, broadband, IP—the CSPs that can seamlessly and efficiently integrate and orchestrate operations support across silos will enjoy more market success than those that can't.

Over time, Gartner expects the increased focus on end-to-end service delivery and fulfillment to continue—both to accelerate new service rollout and to shift the focus more generally toward the customer experience and how it can be improved in a more agile fashion than is typically possible today.

For this reason, Gartner also expects that domains wholly outside OSS, including customer response management, customer experience management, and service delivery platforms will be linked ultimately with OSS for a more comprehensive definition of "end-to-end" than ever before. OSS solution providers with an awareness of this trend, and the capability to rise to the challenge through ongoing solution development, are seen as outperforming the competition.

IBM strengths add up to outright leadership in both vision and execution

Added up, these factors lead to Gartner's conclusion: that the rapid rate of change and continued intense competitive pressure will ultimately lead not just to increased OSS investment, but increased focus on the very best available OSS solution portfolios.

And among them, it sees IBM as the unquestioned front-runner.

Distinguishing IBM as "the leading worldwide OSS player and overall OSS market share leader," Gartner acknowledges IBM's strength in the OSS space as a natural consequence of its ongoing portfolio evolution. Through both its innovative developments and strategic acquisitions, IBM has built a family of solutions that seamlessly integrate not only with each other, but with CSP architectures, to drive down costs, drive up time-to-solution, and enhance the customer experience—often, in fact, solving problems before customers notice they exist in the first place. In this way, IBM's Smarter Communications offering can make CSPs more competitive today and better position them for future growth, by more easily and more rapidly embracing new platforms such as Long Term Evolution and cloud wherever they make good business sense.

Furthermore, Gartner praises IBM's foresight in linking solutions drawn from elsewhere in its extensive range of product families to its OSS line, to enhance the overall business value CSPs can expect to get. Singled out by Gartner in this area: the IBM Maximo asset management family, which helps track and improve all assets at every phase in their lifecycles. For CSPs, with an exceptionally broad range of assets, Maximo is a natural fit, and the extensive asset data Maximo solutions aggregate and analyze can be utilized to drive superior business outcome in many areas—ranging from procurement to service desk support to service provisioning to budgeting to forecasting customer demand levels.

Gartner also acknowledges IBM's continued focus on simplifying management and enhancing business agility through a single OSS architecture that spans fixed, mobile, broadband, and data center environments. As CSPs continue to pursue holistic, end-to-end optimization for all services, across all platforms, IBM's centralized approach will surely pay impressive dividends. And as new platforms emerge, linking management of them to current platforms, and even legacy platforms, will multiply this value proposition.

Going beyond technology per se, Gartner acknowledges that IBM's OSS portfolio strengths are matched by its consulting capabilities. CSPs looking for complete insight into both business and technological areas in making strategic decisions will find that IBM's deep expertise addresses both—integrating them to best effect in much the same way its OSS suite integrates different platforms.

And because IBM has an extensive list of business partners to draw upon, it can assure clients of a tailored fit to their needs—even for the largest and most extensive service rollouts or architectural transformations. IBM's leadership in cloud computing is a good example. Not every OSS solution provider can claim expertise in cloud, but IBM can draw upon not just its own, but all of its partners' history of successful cloud engagements to empower CSPs in this very hot area.

Gartner also points to IBM's Tivoli Netcool Technology Program as a clear strength. This program helps ensure that IBM's OSS family is interoperable with solutions from completely different vendors, making it easy for almost any CSP to deploy and integrate IBM Smarter Communications solutions—regardless of the vendors and technologies they may previously have selected. Similar value stems from the way the Technology Program helps to "future-proof" IBM's OSS capabilities, despite the rapidly-changing and unpredictable technological evolution in this space.

IBM Smarter Communications: A more integrated, optimized, and future-proofed infrastructure

Looking for more specific detail on IBM's CSP offerings—its Smarter Communications portfolio?

Consider the following solutions, which can be combined and integrated to comprise a custom package specifically designed to fulfill any CSP's unique context and requirements. By empowering telecommunications clients to mix and match these solutions at will, IBM maximizes their range of choices. And because all solutions are based on open standards, CSPs also have peace of mind that interoperability won't be a problem—today or tomorrow.

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