ServiceNow and Itential Take on the OSS Market


By: R. Scott Raynovich

Enterprise software company ServiceNow and network automation provider Itential have teamed up to help telecommunications companies streamline service workflow and automation.

Announced at ServiceNow’s Knowledge24 conference in Las Vegas, this is an intriguing partnership. The deal promises to shake up the slow-moving Operations Support Systems (OSS) market, which many industry experts believe has been holding back innovation in the telecommunications market.

Why it matters: ServiceNow is a large and influential player in enterprise software and automation, and its service and operations software is ubiquitous in most industries, including telecom. Itential’s network automation platform helps manage networks across complex, hybrid environments. The combination of the two should be enough to shake up the OSS market, which is dominated by long-established players such as Amdocs, Ericsson, and NEC’s NetCracker, which all have large proprietary systems entrenched in telecom circles.

Time to Modernize OSS?

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Here’s one of the problems that has been impeding the integration of telco systems with enterprise and cloud systems: Telcos and enterprises don’t always speak the same language. Most enterprises don’t know what OSS is. Neither do cloud engineers. And as enterprises build more integrated, hybrid applications that require infrastructure and telecom services on demand, it’s going to be more important to make OSS systems programmable.

Itential has promoted the idea of providing more open, accessible cloud-like automations for telecom networks. It’s also talking about building self-service networking infrastructure following the model of platform engineering, a new trend in enterprise and cloud. With a market capitalization of $150 billion and major credibility in the enterprise market, ServiceNow is exactly the company positioned to do that.

Targeting IaC and Enterprise Workflow

Here’s the end goal: Drive more automation and integration of services into the telecom industry.

When the cloud industry emerged with the launch of software-as-as-service and public cloud platforms, the era of infrastructure-as-code (IaC) was born, giving applications the power to automatically control infrastructure using application programming interfaces (APIs). This enables more automation by connecting services with infrastructure using APIs and programming.

IaC has grown in popularity and has even accelerated in cloud-native engineering circles, with innovative platforms such as Terraform (HashiCorp), Pulumi, and Itential helping to configure and automate networking and infrastructure.

The telecom industry has worked toward IaC, but it’s not easy. Telecom infrastructure is layered with dozens of legacy, proprietary systems—some being decades old. Industry groups such as the MEF and TM Forum have worked to make telco systems more programmable by introducing APIs. But in general, the progress has been slower than in cloud infrastructure.

By introducing more open, programmable software with a well-known enterprise software player, the ServiceNow/Itential partnership could widen the appeal of building more integrated and programmable workflows that are compatible with enterprise systems. This could also help lower the cost of managing telecom OSS systems.

"I think that the OSS landscape has been the biggest barrier to digital transformation,” Chris Wade, CTO of Itential, told me in an interview. “ServiceNow brings their robust enterprise platform with telco-specific applications to transform OSS. Enterprises are demanding self-serve modern network services, and Itential is focused on enabling this for our service provider customers.”

The Details: Itential for OMT

Called Itential for OMT, Itential’s new software integrates ServiceNow Order Management with the Itential Automation Platform. This will enable telcos to build ordering systems that can automatically configure services and manage their lifecycle across infrastructure. Teams can publish workflows and services into the ServiceNow OMT product catalog, enabling product owners to incorporate orchestrated network services into both new and existing products.

Additional features of the Itential for OMT app include:

  • End-to-end orchestration of network service lifecycle across multiple network technologies and vendors.
  • The ability to dynamically publish any Itential workflow or service to the ServiceNow OMT service catalog.
  • Support for the TM Forum's TMF641 interface for service order fulfillment activities.
  • Rapid transformation of services currently dependent on manual fulfillment steps into fully orchestrated services.
  • Rapid onboarding of new vendors and emerging technologies to enable new services faster, with lower integration costs.

Futuriom Take: The partnership has compelling elements to help telcos modernize their service automation and workflows. ServiceNow's presence indicates they are serious about expanding their role in the telecom market.