Dec 04, 2014
By Candi Chen
Since its founding in 1988, TM Forum has positioned itself as an unofficial platform for the standardization and unification of business process hierarchies, system architectures, and the inter-relationships between same.
This work has been manifested in “Frameworx,” a suite of best practices and standards comprising eTOM (Enhanced Telecom Operations Map), TAM (Telecom Application Map) and SID (Shared Information/Data Model).
TAM, in particular, has proven very useful for companies like Excelacom, especially when it comes to the discussion of architecture and functional borders of systems. The application framework offers a standard reference language that has aided in the development our own BSS systems, as well as our multitude of consulting services that include IT strategy, architecture planning and procurement projects.
However, our work with TAM—and especially the analysis that dives into the inner workings and functional domains of each application—has made it clear that there is a need for further levels of functional decomposition. After all, TAM is offered as a framework. TM Forum leaves it to each user to apply its own definitions of functionality on the lower, non-documented levels.
In the last release of TAM, TM Forum has included an early version of a list of functionalities, based on contributions from a number of companies. However, this list is currently at a maturity level where we have found it more feasible to use our own definitions.
Excelacom’s approach has been to develop what we call Technical Reference Architectures (TRA) for application areas where more details are needed. We begin the procedure by creating a list of all functions we believe are covered by the application. A short verbal description of each function is added. The functions are then grouped in domains and subdomains, before being plotted into a visual representation.
To make each function unambiguous, it is given a hierarchical TRA ID, which is unique for this function.
3.2.1 Order Lifecycle/Processing contains 184.108.40.206 Exceptions Management, which again contains items like 220.127.116.11.2 Fallout Management.
For applications we also add the generic “Foundation Services” we believe are needed to support them, such as User Management, Localization, Audit Trail, Cross-application search and others. These service functions are also given TRA IDs that are used across all relevant TRAs.
1.7 User Management is used in almost all TRAs and always with the same TRA ID, even if the requirements might be somewhat different between the different applications. Likewise 7.1 EAI (Enterprise Application Integration Layer) is used in all TRAs to represent the service bus used to integrate the application with its surroundings.
The illustration below shows an extract of a TRA for Product Catalog.
This enrichment of the TMForum frameworks has become a new tool in our toolbox that can be used in a multitude of ways. In the next weeks we will post further articles on this subject, addressing how the TRAs can be used internally in big corporations as a communication device, and externally with clients as a consulting tool.
Ms. Candi Chen was General Manager EMEA at Excelacom. As General Manager of EMEA, she had overall business leadership responsibility and manages sales and delivery for Excelacom’s European operation.More about Candi
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