Oracle Acquisition: Grind That PSTN Ax
An Ovum anaylst says the deal has a lot to do with bringing control to a next-generation PSTN.
Dana Cooperson is a principal analyst at Ovum and I had the opportunity to speak to her about Oracle's acquisition of Acme Packet.
Dana said that, "This is the supply chain [IT and Telecom] finally coming together." Now for convergence and growth (adoption of IP) to continue to occur we need a common platform that services everyone." According to Dana, Oracle Network Application Platform (ONAP) is that glue, that will eventually move the carriers onboard so they can do a better job.
Oracle is a bit late coming out for the party in the cloud, but some say better late than never. Then, as Dana pointed out, a barrier for Oracle is the Telcos. Oracle must convince them that ONAP will better serve their needs.
The Session Border Controller (SBC) and analytics are two key pieces of moving the industry towards convergence on a national level. Also, the seemingly prevailing mentality of: "If it works almost as good or as good, who cares?" attitude, isn't an acceptable policy or standard in moving the public to a converged network.
I don't see the acceptance of and huge move to IP happening now, even when these consumers and small businesses move over to hosted services. Their key initiatives are largely cost reduction, not service enhancement or heightened customer experience.
Even with the mass cord-cutting and exodus from the traditional telephony channel, the managed service providers (MSPs) still don't have all or even most of the services or tools to support consumers and SMBs that deliver on security, experience and enhanced services and features. Instead, they have pieces and custom open source components to keep their costs down. Seemingly, numerous MSPs practice what the Telcos have practiced for decades in creating their own solutions.
Oracle has the potential to facilitate the adoption rate of IP on a much greater scale, and they claim with the acquisition of Acme Packet they will: "Accelerate the migration to an all-IP network and expand the solutions to their partners that will accelerate the transformation to all-IP networks."
Another advantage for Oracle has to do with the growing national security concerns over Chinese hacking. Oracle's status as a US Corporation could be a real advantage as the U.S. starts to transition away from the PSTN. Given this initiative to move the country off the PSTN, a key requirement is providing a secure platform capable of meeting needs of the masses, and the SBC could prove to be a key element in this role. Whether the PSTN will end up being retired on the published date remains another topic. But SBCs are one of--though not the only--elements in this migration, that will smooth and enhance the transition efforts.
Dana also reiterated some familiar trends:
* IT and Telecom are rapidly blending
* Software is increasingly driving network capabilities
* Communications needs are anytime, anywhere
Given these trends, the service quality in the consumer markets, whether it's wireless, hardwired landlines or VoIP, has a set of new expectations--and that's not saying these are mostly positive, because more often they are negative. Motorola published a white paper: Motorola Whole-Home Service Assurance Solutions for Carriers , and they state:
The battle for the consumer will increasingly be won by service providers that deliver rich media experiences via broadband everywhere, optimized networks that offer the best customer experience. The successful delivery of triple-play and quad-play services requires the ability to deliver "my services" to subscribers--to provide consumers with "what I want", "when I want it", and "where I want it".
A couple of years ago I enjoyed reading this white paper and thinking that Motorola really gets it. I also think this indirectly affirms that Oracle's ONAP has the similar ingredients for the enterprise. While Motorola's attention is consumer-centric through the carriers, they also state another key need still absent from the masses: analytics. They write:
Given the right tools, carriers can manage the delivery of digital services and remotely diagnose and resolve service assurance issues. They can reduce truck rolls and drive down operational costs by capturing information, correlating metrics from multiple device types, and implementing actionable policies that accelerate problem resolution. Carriers can improve customer satisfaction by proactively addressing problems as they arise, being able to offer to their customers the best service experience possible. With unified service assurance solutions, carriers can better manage the customer experience and manage the health of an increasingly complex assortment of devices required to deliver high-value services within the home.
I think Dana is right that, "It may take some time for Oracle to convince the carriers" and some of that convincing may come or appear as muscling in. However it happens, I think it will lead to more just than a shot in the arm for both the carriers and Oracle. The interesting part is that Oracle, like Cisco, has lots of cash.
Have a look at Oracle's briefing here and pay attention to slide 7. The latest death date for the PSTN is June 15, 2018, as published here. I can't help but think that Dana's observation that this is a pivotal point of "the supply chain finally coming together" is the new reality and this has huge implications, especially if we see retirement of the PSTN in 5 years and a few short months.