New Service Delivery
TM Forum, And Now for Something Completely Different
Parallels, CSPs Can't Afford to Miss the Cloud
Virtus IT, Converging on Customer Experience
TM Forum, Show Me the Revenue!
Ascom, GATE Way to Success
2operate, Automation of Network Troubleshooting
Carrier Services
WiMAX Update
New Service Delivery
Home | New Service Delivery | TM Forum, And Now for Something Completely Different
  Martin Creaner, TM Forum President
  Martin Creaner
TM Forum President

And Now For Something Completely Different

Martin Creaner, the TM Forum’s President, talks to InterComms about developments at the organisation

PDF icon Download article as PDF

Martin Creaner has been working and advising in the Communications Industry for 18 years and is presently President and Chief Technical Officer of the TM Forum. Prior to joining the TM Forum, Martin held a number of executive positions with BT, the major UK based European Communications Service Provider, and with Motorola, the global Wireless Networks Equipment manufacturer, where Martin led the 2.5G and 3G OSS solutions development activities. Martin sits on the board of a number of telecoms companies, and is the Chairman of Selatra Ltd., which is a java games applications service provider for the mobile marketplace.

Martin is an accomplished speaker and regularly is asked to chair or give keynote talks at leading telecommunication industry events.

Q: What’s new at the TM Forum?
A: The TM Forum is always focused on its core standardisation work. NGOSS was launched nine years ago with a view to developing a new way of approaching OSS. The scope of the TM Forum has broadened considerably since then as the nature of the industry has changed. While NGOSS and it’s key components – Business Process (eTOM), Information (SID) and Application (TAM) frameworks – have grown to become almost ubiquitous, it’s become clear to us that while they are useful individual tools, using them in combination could be challenging because they weren’t entirely consistent with each other in terms of terminology and structure. Over the last two years, we have spent a lot of effort filling the gaps between the various frameworks. The output of that has been the relaunch of the whole business architecture, now named Frameworx. Another key component is the ‘SOA-isation’ of NGOSS. NGOSS was always tied to a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) but, it wasn’t explicitly SOA so we have done lot of work on that, creating the framework for defining the services.

The whole NGOSS package has moved on hugely over the last year and has become really important for the industry. And we have linked to that conformance testing of vendors products against Frameworx. If you are a service provider and you want to implement or purchase a Frameworx compliant product, it can be very difficult to work out which products are conforming and which are not. To address that we have introduced a formal conformance and compliance programme for products for which we publish a report. That makes it extremely easy for service providers to really assess standards conformance. We are continuing to expand the frameworks to meet the broader needs of industry and as we move into new areas – cloud, defence and cable, each will require an update or expanded version of the frameworks.

Q: Tell me more about your work on Cloud?
A: We launched our Cloud Initiative 12 months ago with the objective of ensuring Cloud Services reach their potential as quickly as possible. A lot of the TM Forum companies are both buyers and sellers of Cloud services, and there’s hardly a company in the industry that I am aware of that isn’t looking at using Cloud in some manner or form to reduce its overall cost base. Each one of these companies may not be just a buyer of Cloud. The vast majority of our service provider members are also realising that they could also be providers of Cloud services too, whether it is cloud infrastructure services, Cloud platform services or Cloud software services. We established the Forum’s Cloud Initiative and at the heart of that is the Enterprise Cloud Leadership Council (ECLC). The ECLC is made up of companies who are primarily buyers of Cloud services. We have had a number of banks join the TM Forum in order primarily to get involved in that work. Other major enterprises include government organisations such as the US Defense Information Systems Agency. The ECLC was set up to define standards around service level agreements, governance and transparency and how to manage the Cloud. If you are a major purchaser of Cloud services, you certainly don’t want to put all of your capabilities into this black box that is dispersed across the world. How do you sensibly control all your capabilities in the Cloud so that you don’t have fears over security or bad maintenance processes? Likewise, how do you build governance structures for the Cloud?

Q: Can you give me an example of the complexities?
A: In one very simple example a company was using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud for some infrastructure services. When it did an audit of its consumption of cloud services, it found that it had hundreds of separate contracts from individuals in their organisation. Hundreds of different people were just going out and buying Cloud services on an as needed basis. This creates a huge governance headache for an enterprise. So how do you create a governance structure that yields the benefits of cloud but drives back the control into the IT department? Cloud is a big focus for TM Forum and we have a major focus on Cloud at our next conference in Orlando this November.

Q: What are the other key areas of expansion for the TM Forum?
A: Another big area of growth over recent months has been BSS. If we go back five or six years the TM Forum would have been considered experts in OSS, and for the past five years we have been increasing our focus on the business, with more and more collaborative projects focused on BSS. In areas like revenue management, fraud management, enterprise risk management, data analytics, particularly how to analyse data to drive improved customer experience, there is a whole range of new exciting work in the BSS area. One of the challenges for standardization is finding the resources to do the work and all of the TM Forum’s work is based on contributor resources. I am finding in the BSS work in particular that we are being inundated with resources from member companies to drive areas like fraud management, data analytics, enterprise risk management and revenue assurance forward. It is a very, very rapidly growing area and we are going to see a big focus on that at our next Management World conference in Orlando this November. One of the other areas that we are also beginning to look at, which is really only a twinkle in our eye at the moment, is the whole area of Smart Grid. This is primarily an issue for the utilities industry, but there is a huge overlap with the skills that the members in the TM Forum have developed over the last decade in terms of dynamic charging and rating for services, complex network management and so on. The emergence of Smart Grid as a big initiative in the electricity world has kicked off a parallel programme in the Forum to look at which TM Forum standards could be useful in that area. We have just had a number of companies, including an Australian electricity power company getting involved in the TM Forum’s drive into the Smart Grid world.

Q: You’ve outlined an awful lot of progress in the past year. What do you see as the reason for that?
A: First of all the Forum is a lot bigger than it has ever been, with 750 corporate members from 195 different countries. The breadth of interest of our members is consequently much wider than it has ever been before, but so too are the availability of resources to move things forward. There is also an almost savage intensity that has emerged from the operators, over the past 12-18 months in terms of addressing problems that they have had for years. At the basic network management level, they just want those problems to go away. They want the work to be done and standards to be reached. They want no more arguments and no more proprietary work. The Forum’s focused work on Frameworx has been driven by those same service providers and operators. They recognised that times were changing and changing quite fast compared to just two years ago. The type of competitors that they are facing are no longer symmetric competitors. For example, Vodafone is now not so much facing Telefonica as a competitor, but rather, companies like Vodafone and Telefonica are facing Google, Amazon and Apple as competitors. Telcos realise that the speed of innovation of these companies is so much faster than anything that the telcos can handle. They need to radically change, and the increase in impetus around some of these initiatives comes from the realisation of service providers that they are actually in a life and death struggle as opposed to a struggle over how they add one or two percentage points to their bottom line or top line.

Q: What’s next?
A: As you can see, the Forum is becoming increasingly strategic about taking ‘twinkles in the eye’ and moving them into valuable projects that produce valuable output. During 2011 much of our existing work will continue to evolve, as in many cases it will take several years to reach completion. However, I fully expect to see a sprinkling of additional brand new things. Watch this space!

TM Forum logoFor more information visit:

Upcoming Events
Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict