Telecoms technology vendor ZTEsoft has rebranded as Whale Cloud following investment from Alibaba Group. Leveraging Alibaba's cloud and AI capabilities, Whale Cloud improves on existing assets to deliver d-BEP, a cloud-native BSS product to support the omnichannel digital customer experience, partner ecosystems, and business agility.
Following former parent company ZTE selling its 45% stake in ZTEsoft to Alibaba Group, ZTEsoft has rebranded as Whale Cloud Technology. At the vendor's annual summit, Whale Cloud unveiled the latest release of its flagship BSS product, ZSmart d-BEP.
ZSmart d-BEP is a major architectural upgrade over the previously launched ZSmart v8. Whereas the previous version was geared toward supporting digital channels and IoT business models, d-BEP focuses on upgrading the platform's architecture by moving to microservices and containers for a cloud-native deployment of the BSS product. Leveraging cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) assets from Alibaba, Whale Cloud offers further enhancements to the BSS product by focusing d-BEP around four main competencies: managing the omnichannel digital experience, managing the partner ecosystem, enabling business agility through cloud-native architectures, and incorporating intelligence throughout the solution.
New capabilities such as unified offers, products, and services, and centralized interactions (which create a 360-degree view of the customer) come together to enable CSPs to create a consistent customer experience across channels with d-BEP. Addressing the CSP need for open platforms conducive to partnerships, d-BEP also introduces API capabilities for CSPs, including API design and an API policy control engine. The platform itself features a decoupled architecture available as a SaaS deployment in the private and hybrid clouds, as well as via Alibaba's public cloud.
Finally, Alibaba's AI assets combine with Whale Cloud's existing analytics capabilities to improve intelligence across the business. For example, CSPs can leverage the system's AI capabilities to drive and unify marketing engagements across channels and to support their customer support efforts. WhaleTalk, a feature debuted in d-BEP, is the vendor's proprietary chat service. It uses AI to enable assisted chat (chatbots), as well as other intelligent customer contact features.
Whale Cloud's development of a cloud-native BSS solution is one of many such solutions to come on to the telecoms market within the last two years. Although CSP deployment of microservice-based systems in the cloud has been limited thus far, it is a capability that is expected of vendors in the telecoms market – especially as CSPs prepare to support the technology requirements for 5G. While CSPs have been apprehensive about adopting technology thus far because of the cultural changes needed to support cloud-native systems and processes, and concerns around data privacy, investment in cloud architectures is increasing. According to Ovum's most recent ICT Enterprise Insights survey, moving IT operations to the cloud and moving to cloud architectures are important business challenges for more than 80% of CSPs in 2019.
Even with deployments of microservices-architected BSS products being limited, vendor solutions have begun to get competitive as they anticipate CSPs ramping up deployments of the technology. In the same Ovum survey, nearly 65% of CSPs say they will increase IT spend on microservices-architected software in 2019. One thing is clear, however: with the company rebranding, and the reconfiguring and launch of d-BEP, Whale Cloud is looking to make a splash in the market and distance itself from its ZTE roots.
Chantel Cary, Senior Analyst, Telecoms Operations and IT