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7 The Choice is Yours
Software that supports the daily operations of a modern communications service provider (CSP) must be exceptionally feature-rich to maintain the competitive edge of its users. It also must be robust in its ability to move volumes of data to and from servers, users, web sites and external systems. So, choosing the right infrastructure is every bit as important as choosing the right software. Here are a few important considerations:

Rental Software

With some solutions, the term “cloud” and rental software are synonymous. This is known as Software as a Service (SaaS).

At this point in time, neither SaaS nor its IP-based service providers have yet enjoyed the same wide telecom industry acceptance and global requirements exposure as licensed solutions. As a result, available SaaS solutions tend to be far less feature-rich, and often struggle or even fail altogether in meeting the evolving challenges of a competitive telecom marketplace. Furthermore, much like any other rental, telecom SaaS software does not typically receive business-critical and evolutionary updates at the same pace as licensed applications.

Pros: The idea of renting software may make a certain amount of sense because it can spread the cost over time. Meanwhile the full benefits can be enjoyed immediately.

Cons: The rental payments never stop.

We have a solution. Since 1984, Advantage 360 has only offered licensed applications, backed by world-class support, a continual flow of new feature-rich enhancements and free updates at least twice a year. We also offer the payment options of both closed-end leasing and an outright purchase. Both options eventually pass full title to our customers without further payment thereafter. This keeps our applications fresh, while catering to the financial needs of customers and eliminating the pay forever model of rental software.

Our On-Premise Solutions

An on-premise installation is one where the solutions reside on servers that are under the full control of the customer, and are usually at a location provided by the software owner or lessee. This requires appropriate hardware, floor space, electrical power, environmental controls, infrastructure, software licenses, disaster-proofing and redundancies. While it may also require dedicated IT Staffing, Advantage 360 offers optional off-site staffing and remote management services that can reduce or eliminate this requirement.

Pros: Users retain control of all sensitive data and are not charged a recurring per user fees. Also, they have reasonable control over user connectivity and data transfer speeds, such as EDR / CDR downloads and with interfaces to third-parties such as credit bureaus, print vendors, sales agents, SMS and MMS solutions, business analytics, etc.

Cons: Initial hardware and server license costs may, at first, seem pricy, and some form of IT staffing is required to maintain the servers, install updates, etc. In addition, demand-based system expansion typically requires immediate payment for any required additional hardware and software, and may be subject to unexpected lead times.

Our Cloud-Based Solutions

Companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, Dell, Rackspace and others operate and manage large hosted server and server software “farms” that can handle virtually any size requirement. This is known as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Unlike SaaS solutions IaaS providers do not usually rent telecom software. They simply offer the facilities to host it. In fact, many SaaS vendors use IaaS providers, rather than host the applications themselves.

Because of the large corporation IT and security expertise that stands behind many IaaS companies, they are reasonably secure data depositories and offer various redundancy, disaster-recovery and IT staffing and management options for a single monthly cost.

Keep in mind that IaaS typically only eliminates the need for in-house servers and related server software and hardware, such as UPS’, routers, backup devices, operating systems, databases, etc. Users must still acquire and maintain their own client-side hardware, software and infrastructures. Also, the amortized costs of in-house server components is usually much lower than IaaS rent over the same period which, like rental software, goes on forever and without a break.

Whether purchased or leased, when IaaS makes sense to one of our customers, our software can be installed there almost as easily as on on-premise hardware. We will even size the system and solicit competitive quotes from various providers without remuneration. Once in place, a client workstation or handheld device can be deployed anywhere in the world in under three minutes.

Pros: Clients often benefit by master IaaS licenses that have been negotiated for operating system, database and other required software. IaaS systems can expand to meet capacity requirements on a moment’s notice and can provide a very secure repository for sensitive data.

Cons: The total cost over 3 – 5 year term could be significantly higher than an in-house system. In addition, as current (EDRs / CDRs) and long-term (historical) data storage requirements grow in size, along with a growing user community and flow of data volumes increase connectivity bandwidth costs, IaaS-related costs could grow exponentially.

Then, there is the issue of reliable end-to-end connectivity. If users cannot be 99.999% sure that CDRs and other data will flow into the system on time, bills will flow out on time and users, customers and sales agents will have access to the system 24x7x365, IaaS is probably not a good solution.