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An operational support system (OSS) is a group of computer programs or an IT system used by communications service providers for monitoring, controlling, analyzing and managing a computer or telephone network system. OSS software is specifically dedicated to telecommunications service providers and mainly used for supporting network processes to maintain network inventory, configure network components, provision services and manage faults.
With the growth of new broadband and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems, OSS and network management are now applied to home networks.
An OSS is also known as a business support system (BSS).
Prior to the 1970s, many OSS activities were executed via manual management processes. In the early to mid-1970s, telecommunications companies created numerous hardware and software systems that were used to automate OSS activities. This is considered a driving factor in the creation of the C programming language and Unix. For example, Bell used multiple OSS systems, including the Remote Memory Administration System (RMAS), Switching Control Center System (SCCS), Service Evaluation System (SES) and Trunks Integrated Record Keeping System (TIRKS).
Cheap and simple OSS integration via automated customer interfaces remains a strategic challenge for telecommunications and Internet service providers (ISP).
The four key OSS elements are as follows:
In the 1990s, a four-layer OSS model emerged, as follows: