TM Forum announces Open Digital Architecture (ODA) program

TM Forum, a nonprofit industry association for service providers and their suppliers in the telecom industry, premiered its ODA program today. The purpose of the program, according to TM Forum, is to replace traditional operational and business support systems (OSS/BSS) architectures and become the de facto standard of open digital platforms.

Communication service providers (CSPs) are currently undergoing a digital transformation, requiring major changes to OSS architectures. Consensus about open standards is needed to ease and accelerate the digital transformation of IT systems, in addition to supporting interoperability among partners. Consequently, ODA developed an industry-agreed blueprint, language and set of key design principles to follow.

“Although it (telco) is a huge industry, it’s relatively fragmented compared to a Google or a Facebook,” Barry Graham, director of agile business and IT program, TM Forum, told RCR Wireless News. “To make this transition, all of the operators have to make similar transitions, have to deploy similar types of technology. And if they all do it independently, then that’s going to be relatively complicated for the industry as a whole.”

Graham added that what ODA does is takes most of the technology and principles found within the general IT industry and applies them to the specific challenges facing CSPs. TM Forum led collaboration among chief architects from CSPs, including AT&T, Bharti Airtel, BT, Orange, Telefónica and Vodafone, to identify common requirements for reimagined OSS/BSS. TM Forum said its Catalyst-proof-of-concept program has verified several of the principles used by ODA, with contributions from 50 projects.

“We have a number of tier-1 CSPs,” said Graham. “They brought along their architectures, their principles, the things that they’ve proven and contributed those ideas, and we very much collectively created, if you like, a superset of those that all the members agree on.”

TM Forum’s suite of over 50 open APIs are at the core of the architecture, enabling the interoperability of internal and external IT resources in a common way. Eight new companies, including CENX, Cerillion, My Republic, SigScale, Vlocity, TCS, Telstra and Wipro, have joined the 35 implementing TM Forum’s open APIs across their architecture.

Some of the other key design principles laid out by ODA include: a core layered approach to a future architecture, intent-based management, componentization and modularity, real-time relevant data reports, separation of design time and run time, agile governance, security and privacy by design, among others.

“This is an important step for the evolving telecommunications sector,” said David Green, lead telecoms partner for technology strategy and architecture, Deloitte. “Having an industry standard for digital architecture will be crucial for organisations that are looking to modernise and simplify their systems and processes. The Open Digital Architecture could be the platform to help forward-looking Communication Service Providers grow and remain competitive.”

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