Viewpoint – The Single or Dual Catalog Conundrum

Posted: September 27th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Advantages of a catalog-driven fulfillment philosophy

We’re regularly faced with our Service Provider customers and prospects questioning the inclusion of catalog within the Comptel Fulfillment stack – stating quite categorically that “they already have a product catalog” and why would they need another? So I just wanted to put a few words together to demonstrate the real advantages behind the service catalog approach.

More than ever, increasingly complex services depend upon efficient, fast and accurate time-to-market, but too often in many OSS and BSS implementations, product specifications are intrinsically linked to the workflow that implements the service. In the most extreme cases, the workflow itself is the specification of the service. This practice leads to an unmaintainable and inflexible architecture, because every time a change is required to a product, the workflow must be modified. The more changes that are made, the lengthier the workflow becomes, and the more unreadable, unmanageable and unviable it is as a practical architectural solution. Unfortunately, in many cases this tends to be the case for single catalog implementations.

In catalog-driven fulfillment, the service catalog acts as the brains of the system. This means that service order management, provisioning and activation systems are not only able to retrieve product decompositions from the catalog, but also use that information when orchestrating and fulfilling orders. Additionally, in a well architected solution, workflow components can be designed within order management which can be published for discovery by the service catalog.

Comptel’s catalog-driven approach to service fulfillment works independently of workflow design, effectively decoupling product lifecycle management from the technical processes required to implement services. When technical product information is managed in Comptel Catalog, a customer has better visibility on deliverable products. Additionally, they will find it easier to define new products that can be delivered without complex and lengthy workflow creation and modifications.

Therefore, specifying technical product information in a data definition, rather than in a workflow design delivers immediate efficiencies in terms of building, delivering, enhancing/customising and supporting a product. Taking a catalog-driven fulfillment approach will allow a CSP to:-

  • Launch products and services faster. Increasing the profitable lifespan of new services, accelerating product launch to meet market expectations for new service and quickening competitive alignment.
  • Reduce product launch and management costs. Enabling access to new low volume niche markets, protecting margins in the face of reduced profit on mass market services.
  • Enable greater innovation in product and service creation. Customer expectations for tailoring is growing, so maximising the ability to convert network potential into innovative marketable products, particularly products built together with partners, is key.

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