Digital transformation has become vital for operators to prepare for all the new challenges and industry demands, writes Qian Sheng, chief architect of Huawei Business Enabling System. Co-sponsored feature: Huawei
Change is the critical factor profoundly impacting the telecoms industry in the digital age. Both customer behaviour and business environment are changing. Technology is also advancing rapidly. Under this circumstance, digital transformation has become vital for operators to prepare for all the new challenges and industry demands.
Let us ask ourselves a simple question: what are the key factors of a successful digital transformation? At Huawei, we believe there are three key attributes to be added into telecom operations due to internetisation.
First of all, consumers, on a daily basis, are becoming more aware of and more involved with their telecoms subscriptions and services, hence, ROADS (Real-time, On-demand, All-online, DIY and Social) experiences are essential for them to quickly and easily enjoy personalised products and services.
Secondly, internal operation needs to be agile to adapt to rapid changes, and deliver the products and services that consumers want.
Lastly, there is the need to construct an open ecosystem, support multiple business models such as B2B, B2C, and B2B2X, ultimately realise maximum business value and enable partners with comprehensive platform operation.
To sum it up, agility, efficiency, flexibility and adaptability play crucial roles in successful digital transformation.
Pinpointing such characteristics of internetised operation, Huawei redefines BSS software technical architecture in its new generation software, Business Enabling System (BES).
- Standardised data model, flexibly supporting a wide variety of products and partners.
- Decoupled applications, using micro-service architecture and open APIs to provide flexible support to third party partners, meeting operators’ business needs fast.
- Highly scalable platform, agile development, automatic maintenance, supporting elastic scaling, A/B testing.
- Virtual infrastructure, supporting multiple virtual technologies and hardware facilities.
Flexible data model
The BES data model is designed to support telecom and non-telecom products for various business models such as B2C, B2B, B2B2C, and so on.
The BES data model is compliant with the TM Forum SID framework and capable of being shared within the core BES products such as digital CRM and CBS. The following are the core features of BES architecture:
- A unified data model to support all types of products and offerings, including telecom service, device, digital service, internet of things service, cloud service and traditional goods, and so on.
- Mature and robust products and offering templates to enable fast time to market. The extensive set of templates provide definition for specification, order process mapping, product and offering configuration steps/items. Different types of products have different configuration steps/items.
- For telecom campaigns, the BES promotion engine enables short-term market policies such as ‘buy n get m free’, ‘coupon for subscription’, ‘discount based on total charge’ and so on.
- The convergent order engine supports order processing for multiple business models including B2C, B2B, C2C, telecom and non-telecom product fulfillment, multiple payment methods including online payment, cash on delivery, pay by installments, and so on, and finally, different delivery methods including delivery-to-home, take-away-from-retail-store, and take-away-from-agents.
- Unified party and shared capabilities to enable stable and expandable data models for variable business models. Flexible hierarchy of entities to support family and corporation business scenarios.
Multi-tenant platform that supports business entity hierarchy configuration, configuration for different business entities with distinct time zones, currencies, languages, account balance types, and order processing flows.
BES adopts a micro-service architecture. It separates application into various independent components, each open for services for data access and operation.
- Decoupled layers improve development and customisation efficiency: Front-end and back-end are decoupled, in-between components are decoupled, business logic and data are decoupled.
- Component and service based software enables openness and flexible deployment. The system is broken down into different components, including product, offering, sales catalogue, customer, partner, order, promotion, and shopping cart. Components can be flexibly packaged and deployed, with component level elastic scaling.
- There is a metadata-driven architecture, supporting flexible definition and expansion.
- A visualised process orchestration is capable of adjusting business process to satisfy different business needs through a visual orchestration tool.
- A visualised service orchestration means it is capable of assembling multiple basic APIs of the back-end to provide new service capabilities through a visual orchestration tool.
BES is based on a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) IT approach, enabling excellent distributed capability and high performance. • A distributed service framework provides virtual and distributed service bus capability with high performance P2P service interaction. It guarantees the scalability and flexible deployment of BES components.
- A distributed data access decouples the business logic and data layer. Location of data is transparent for software business logic. This enables vertical and horizontal data sharing to support large data volume and high performance.
- A distributed cache service provides dedicated, reliable, large and fast cache service with smooth scalability.
- A distributed message queue provides elastic message queue to support asynchronous and parallel service processing to enable high capacity and highly simultaneous message processing.
- The IT PaaS platform also provides abundant features, enabling high availability and easy maintenance.
- A one-click installation and upgrade provides a user-friendly tool to make installation and upgrade easier and automatic.
- A rule-based elastic scaling monitors system KPI and enables automatic scale-in and scale-out based on rule configuration.
- Visualised transaction chain analysis means that from start to end of a transaction, the system can record processing information of all component services that are involved in the transaction step by step to generate call chain information for performance or fault analysis.
- A one-click automatic log collection and analysis automatically collects log information from the distributed environment and the corresponding tool is used for analysis.
- A/B testing is based on configurable policy and rules – factor: user region, number range, business office or other application aware conditions – without interruption to system functionality.
Huawei’s approach supports multiple virtualisation technologies, including VMWare vSphere, FusionSphere KVM and Citrix Xen. It supports multiple infrastructure service management software, including OpenStack, vCloud and FusionSphere. It is based on Huawei FusionSphere, capable of supporting physical resources.
Digital transformation is no longer about if or when; it is all about how and what. There are a number of operators that have already put in efforts in different areas: business or technical, internal or external – including customer-centric cultures, digital ecosystem partnerships, vertical industry expansion, cloud evolution, and so on.
However, operators’ progress towards digital transformation is not moving as fast as expected. The root cause is always that legacy business support systems are tightly-coupled silos based on outdated architecture. It is very difficult to adapt such systems to unpredictable changes driven by end-users or business environments.
Operators need a set of cloud-native and decoupled BSS applications which can be easily deployed, upgraded and scaled. These applications should also be easily customised, or be integrated with third-party systems by open APIs.
Huawei’s BES consists of omni-channel, customer engagement, product management, order management, business orchestrator, and partner management, and so on. It is capable of accelerating operators’ digital transformation in terms of customer experience improvement, product innovation and business agility.
BES components are designed based on micro-service architecture which can be quickly assembled into business solutions in accordance with a variety of digital operation business scenarios.
They can be easily customised, based on Huawei’s application PaaS platform, and they support elastic scaling for huge business volume based on virtualised infrastructure.
See more on Global Telecoms Business.