If you look at just the numbers, Microsoft is used by only a very small percentage of BSS and OSS systems.  In the true telecom BSS/OSS space, Microsoft can claim less than 10% market share today.  The other 90% is split between legacy Mainframe, UNIX, and some LINUX.  IBM IMS and DB2 predominate on the mainframe side with Oracle dominating on the AIX, HP-UX, SUN, UNIX, LINUX platforms.  

Most new development has been J2EE based. IBM WebSphere has dominated over SUN/BEA – no surprise.  Enterprise Service Buses (ESBs) also play a major role in BSS/OSS architectures as well. Most large telcos own several flavors of ESBs. Open source has been gaining some ground especially as a result of the growth of the Eclipse development ecosystems. 

However, Microsoft Windows Server, .NET, SQL, BizTalk, etc have all been making progress especially over the past several years.  Almost all of the examples of viable, Microsoft based, Commercial-Off-The-Shelf BSS/OSS/SDP solutions have arrived on the scene over just the last several years – certainly post the CLEC collapse in the U.S.  Each visit to a Management World or a B/OSS World find a few more vendors leveraging Microsoft platforms and tools.

It is instructive to consider the shift in MOMENTUM and not just the numbers, such as they are today, because the numbers by themselves are fundamentally misleading.  Whereas .NET and Microsoft were total non-starters in this space up through the 1990s, this is increasingly not the case anymore. 

Consider these factoids:

  1. Microsoft platforms are vastly better than they were in the 90s when many of the perceptions that exist today in telcos were formed.  Microsoft can support 3x9s, 4x9s, even 5x9s systems today efficiently with the right hardware and virtualization choices.  This has  been repeatedly and fully demonstrated.

  2. With the launch of products like Mediaroom / IPTV and Windows Mobile, Microsoft began to fill the role of a Network Equipment Provider.  The argument that “there will be no Microsoft technology managing my Network” becomes increasingly mute when Microsoft technology IS the network being managed at the server infrastructure level, the device level, and/or the Software + Services layer.

  3. Traditional Network Equipment Providers (NEPs) are increasingly selecting Microsoft technologies to build their equipment console applications.  Some equipment from these NEPs expose interfaces to the OSS layer that are enabled by Microsoft .NET.  Some pieces of equipment will be managed via Silverlight enabled web interfaces.

  4. With the launch of Microsoft Azure Services Platform, Live Services, and Online Services, Microsoft has become recognized by leading industry groups as a SERVICE PROVIDER in its own right.  Last year, Microsoft IT and Microsoft Operations adopted the TM Forum’s NGOSS reference architecture and built an internal BSS/OSS to support a new business: Microsoft Business Online Services www.microsoft.com/online. As I have written previously, this effort achieved some recognition when it caused Microsoft Online to be selected as a FINALIST in the TMF Best Practices Excellence Awards 2009 in a Service Provider category.  There is a published case study documenting this work at www.tmforum.org/casestudies called “A Fast Track BSS/OSS for Online Services”.

  5. Microsoft Azure, Live Services, and Online Services have hundreds of millions of subscribers and users.  The sheer scale of the Microsoft user base dwarfs the typical Tier 1 telco.  The number of IMs, Emails, and Unified Communications VOIP/SIP traffic calls handled by Microsoft infrastructures is “Tier 1 Telco” class and the other service providers know this… in some cases they fear this.  They worry about being reduced to a commodity bit pipe carrier.  However, they also recognize Microsoft as a service provider partner able to provide a global reach to those other service providers.

  6. A major trend in the telecom space is the movement towards converged services with consistent content delivery across multiple devices: IPTV, PC, Windows Mobile, NetBooks, Surface powered kiosks etc.  Microsoft has become recognized as an important partner in these revenue value chains.  Microsoft Advertising Solution has become very important to monetizing these new services.  Announced Service Provider to Service Provider deals are indicative of this:

    • Microsoft and Verizon Mobility (for all targeted advertising delivery)

    • Microsoft and Telstra (Online Services Syndication)

    • Microsoft and Vodafone (Online Services Syndication)

  7. Industry groups like the TM Forum, ATIS, OMG, OMA are all working the technical aspects of this new business model and Microsoft is a major player in multiple ways.  The key fact is that Microsoft is an important service provider partner to these other service providers directly contributing Content and Services that enable a richer digital user experience to subscribers all over the world at less cost than any one service provider could achieve by themselves.  The industry refers to this as the “Services Marketplace”.  All of this capability from Microsoft is delivered on .NET powered systems.

  8. The largest global suppliers of BSS/OSS and Service Delivery Platforms have begun to deploy Tier 1 class BSS/OSS applications engineered on Microsoft platforms.  These companies recognize that Microsoft offers an exceptionally strong platform value proposition across the data center, the private cloud, and the public cloud.

  9. Another interesting factor is that Oracle is increasingly perceived as a competitive threat to other BSS/OSS suppliers. Because of acquisitions, Oracle is not just a DB vendor anymore.  Oracle’s offers across telco BSS, OSS, Service Delivery Platforms, and Integration Platforms effectively compete in significant ways with virtually all other BSS/OSS suppliers to the industry.  This has become a contributing factor to an accelerating movement towards Microsoft platforms.  Microsoft, which gets ~96% of its revenue via partners, is not perceived to be a threat.

  10. Comparative infrastructure cost analysis heavily favors moving to Microsoft platforms.  Regardless of how deployed, on premise data center, private cloud, or public cloud, the flexible S+S approach offered by Microsoft combined with an inherent lower hardware and software cost is becoming a huge positive for Microsoft.  Recently, I have been involved in conversations with Tier 1 telcos telling their tier 1 OSS vendors they need their apps moved to Microsoft platforms because it will cut their OPEX in HALF!  The suppliers are listening.

The trend towards Microsoft platforms for BSS / OSS solutions will accelerate.