OSS Line catches up with Anand Gonuguntla, CEO of Centina Systems, to find out why CSPs are looking for a new approach to service assurance and quality. We start with a brief history lesson…
While I may occasionally bemoan the lack of innovation and new companies in OSS, it seems that the annual TMF show in Nice has an insatiable appetite for service assurance and service quality management solutions. You can always find someone doing something new in SA, SQM, CoS, QoS and the like. Because… It’s fundamental, it’s important and it changes as quickly as technology and service trends change.
So, I was pleased to get some time with Anand Gonuguntla, CEO of Centina Systems, at TM Forum Live(!) in Nice last week.
Centina can only be called ‘new’ in the sense that it started up in 2006, just as the epoch of 1990s/2000s OSS companies came to an end with their M&A exit phase. So, for OSS old-timers, Centina is a new company – New in the same way I consider any music released after OK Computer as being new.
SA solutions that grew up in the 1990s and early 2000s, like IBM- acquired Micromuse, shared many qualities with other OSS systems of the time. They were popular because they were multi-technology, multi-vendor, and much more flexible than the rigid, silo solutions that came before them. But they also emerged during a time when frankly huge capital investment in software and long, complex delivery projects were acceptable.
Fast-forward to the 2010s and both the economics and the requirements have changed.
Centina is addressing the need today for faster, and therefore lower cost, deployment of service assurance. Gonuguntla points out that with the previous generation of SA, 95% of the project’s time and effort was in defining vendor specific rules. Centina invests in the development and maintenance of out-of-the-box support for 1000 devices types from 135 hardware vendors.
But it’s not just a case of being able to integrate with different vendors. A lot of work would normally go in to supporting industry standards adopted by CSPs, such as ITU and MEF.
Hardware vendors ‘support’ or ‘enable’ such standards, but that falls short of actually fully implementing them. There’s always some work to be done and, once again, Centina step in to offer their experience and products to ensure standards are implemented with a lot less effort than is typical.
While the benefit to their customers is obvious, it’s still a challenge for any OSS business to stay on top of so many changing hardware specs and standards. It is worth the investment as it’s the USP of Centina’s business and, Gonuguntla maintains, the secret is in having a large number of network experts on their staff.
Gonuguntla described Centina’s approach as a paradigm shift that addresses the integration and time to market issues of the OSS market.
This is where the industry needs to innovate. ‘Integration tax’ has long been a problem in the industry. The companies that will grow and succeed in a market dominated by a few big OSS/BSS players will be those, like Centina, offering critical core functionality that also changes the economics of operating a network.