IBM Cloud Service Provider Platform pumps new life into old networks

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In a previous blog post, “The new “C” in CSP: from communications to cloud service provider,” I discussed the analysts’ estimates on public cloud market opportunity and expected growth. I explained why communications service providers (CSPs) are uniquely position to take advantage of this opportunity. I also summarized the actions that CSPs must take to transform themselves from a communications service provider to cloud service provider.

Now I’d like to tell you more about the IBM Cloud Service Provider Platform (CSP2). CSP2 is an offering that IBM introduced in October 2010 to empower CSPs to create, manage, and monetize cloud services quickly and cost-effectively. With CSP2, IBM assembled a complete portfolio, which includes:

  • A set of business solutions from a partner ecosystem and IBM that CSPs can take to market rapidly
  • Several products, technologies, and consulting services that are enhanced to meet the special requirements of the CSPs, especially communications carriers, for delivering cloud-based services to their customers
  • Industry leading business intelligence and analytics portfolio with the consulting services to help CSPs to gain deep customer insight, and exploit their customer and service data to drive differentiation and revenue growth

The following figure summarizes the three pillars of the CSP2 offering: create, manage, and monetize.

IBM Cloud Services Provider Platform

Let’s look at each pillar in more detail.


The create pillar is about creating cloud services quickly by harnessing the power of a partner ecosystem to help CSPs to differentiate their brand and drive profitable growth. Under the create pillar CSP2 includes consulting services from IBM Global Business Services with the expertise that you need to help you transform your business and build the new strategy. It is important to understand that cloud must start with the business strategy. IBM offers full-blown consulting services but it also provides strategy and exploration workshops to facilitate the discussion and help you align the ecosystem of partners with your business strategy.

This pillar also includes cloud-enabled applications and services from a partner ecosystem to help you enable, market, and sell a compelling portfolio of diverse cloud services that is attractively priced. IBM PartnerWorld organization is fostering the development of a large ecosystem of cloud application developers. IBM can connect CSPs to over 8 million partner developers in 195 countries.  IBM invested heavily on building an ecosystem of partners focused on the CSP’s success.

CSP2 also offers CSPs a host of attractive white-labeled IBM cloud services that you can re-brand and market to your customers to accelerate time to market. Some of the partner-enabled cloud service offerings (with more under development) fall under the following categories:

  • Managed backup
  • Cloud storage
  • Social collaboration
  • Managed security
  • Development and test
  • Desktop virtualization
  • Web analytics
  • Security governance, risk management, and compliance
  • Expense reporting
  • Business process management
  • B2B commerce
  • IBM platform as a service (PaaS) solutions (for example, DB2 and WebSphere)

You can find more information about the portfolio of cloud-based services provided by IBM at the IBM SmartCloud web site.

Under the create pillar, IBM Cloud Service Accelerator provides a complete cloud services brokerage function allowing CSPs to quickly on-board, customize, integrate, and deploy cloud services with consistent delivery, support, and business models. It helps CSPs rapidly enable new partner-provided applications and solutions by using IBM Mashup Center and IBM Cast Iron Template Integration Processes (TIP) with pre-configured templates and policies.

Also, IBM has announced a partnership with Jamcracker to offer a complete and unified cloud services delivery stack. Jamcracker is an optional component of CSP2 designed to provide the cloud services brokerage function of the IBM Cloud Service Accelerator. Jamcracker provides aggregation and on-boarding of an ecosystem of cloud services from multiple providers. To learn more, see the Jamcracker and IBM CSP2 web page


The manage pillar is the heart of the CSP2 offering. The core management component of the solution is based on IBM Service and Delivery Manager (ISDM). IBM added hundreds of enhancements and customizations to fulfill the requirements of the CSPs and make the solution relevant for the communication carriers. The following list provides some specific examples that explain why the IBM Cloud Service Provider Platform solution is unique in the industry:

  • Supports thousands (over 1 million) of VMs running concurrently
  • Scalability that supports the provision of tens of thousands of virtualized services per hour
  • Ultra high VM density per server; up to 90% utilization
  • Predictive analytics functionality that can provision new services in less than one minute
  • Advanced automation for dynamic provisioning of virtualized resources
  • Secure by design with superior multi-tenancy
  • Integrated service level agreement (SLA) and quality of service (QoS) management
  • Billing-ready out-of-the-box with integrated usage metering and accounting management
  • Infrastructure, application, and network monitoring
  • Multiple layers of redundancy
  • Automated failover and recovery
  • Support for heterogeneous infrastructure. Exploit your existing infrastructure and grow it in a modular style to scale.

IBM has developed the most complete, carrier-grade, highly secure, scalable, integrated cloud service management solution.


The monetize pillar is about helping CSPs to profit from their cloud investment and ensure commercial success. To fully monetize their assets and cloud investments, CSPs must perform the following actions:

  • Transform their sales force and channels to be able to sell cloud services.
  • Exploit business intelligence and analytics to achieve differentiation.
  • Enhance their customer self-service web portals to provide clients with a superior experience that will differentiate their brand, ignite sales, increase retention, and attract new customers.
  • Provide flexible billing options.

IBM Cloud Service Provider Platform includes a variety of consulting and training services as well as technology and process management capabilities to ensure optimal effectiveness of inside and outside sales forces and channel partners. IBM is sharing its competency of selling complex IT solutions with CSPs and makes this skill set available to them to help them to become more effective at selling cloud-based solutions. IBM seller training programs help CSPs to improve their sales force’s understanding of the service portfolio and how to most effectively sell offers to targeted segments. IBM offers the following services:

  • On-site, online, and cloud-delivered learning solutions that can be specifically tailored for the CSP’s needs and cloud service portfolio
  • Sales force transformation and channel optimization services

CSPs can leverage IBM’s multi-billion dollar investment in its business intelligence and analytics portfolio to enhance effectiveness of campaigns, promotions, up-sell, and cross-sell, and also prevent churn.

CSPs must optimize their customer self-service web portals to energize cloud sales, increase average revenue per user (ARPU) and improve retention. CSP2can help ensure integration with the CSP’s business support systems (BSS) and operations support systems (OSS) to achieve “no-touch” automated operations making the cloud services operations cost structure as low as possible to help drive improved margins from new services.

Usage metering and accounting capabilities are ready to use (out-of-the-box) or are integrated with the CSP’s BSS-enabled flexible billing plans including utility services cost model (pay per use or pay-as-you-go)


Cloud doesn’t run on air

Nope, in spite of its name, cloud computing doesn’t run on air; it requires a hardware infrastructure. CSP2 gives you flexibility and choice. It supports a heterogeneous infrastructure allowing you to take advantage of your existing hardware investment when you start building the cloud environment. However, as your cloud environment grows, it is important to choose a hardware infrastructure that is optimized for cloud computing. IBM’s servers and storage products are designed for high scalability, modular growth, and built-in security. They fit with IBM Service Delivery Manager, the heart of IBM Cloud Service Provider Platform management, like puzzle pieces.

IBM systems provide unique capabilities for the CSP infrastructure that can be summarized as follows:

  • High scalability: Scale-up systems architecture enables consolidation, optimization and dynamic infrastructure for modular growth.
    The very high capacity of IBM systems allows you to run more workloads on a single server, which leads to more efficient balancing of resources, fewer servers, less heat, and fewer power requirements.  It provides enhanced headroom to accommodate exponential growth of subscribers, applications, and bandwidth expansion. IBM systems provide the highest VM density per server in the industry with up to 90% utilization.
    IBM systems provide the foundation for the carrier-grade infrastructure that CSPs require to support millions of customers and provision services in a few minutes. Historically, IBM has been the market leader on mainframes and high-performance servers; the evolution of the data center to a cloud infrastructure plays to IBM hardware products’ (systems and storage) strength. While some competitors are now trying to get rid of their PC business to concentrate on cloud, IBM has been on this path for several years.
  • High Availability: Enables IT resources to be available when and where needed.
    Keeping the environment always up and running is of paramount importance. As servers become larger, with higher core density, a main concern is to run too many applications and customer’s services on a single system (too many eggs in one basket so to speak). The quality and stability of the hardware platform becomes critical. IBM systems and storage include a built-in system management stack, which provides the capability to handle predictive failures with call-home technology, a distinguishing benefit of IBM hardware. It provides the capability to look at numerous predictive failures across systems, to notify the higher-level software stack that this system has a challenge and you should evacuate the VMs off this system and move them to another system. The low-level system management software handles the predictive failure, creates the service call and then brings the VMs back when the time is right or adds them back to the provisioning pool. These capabilities allow you to handle hardware failures with minimum or no disruptions. They also make it possible to perform firmware updates with no disruptions.
  • Higher security: Servers and storage devices are designed with built-in security and multi-tenancy from the bottom up. IBM systems and storage include a comprehensive security stack to maintain integrity, privacy, and isolation.
  • Choice of servers and storage for workload optimization and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings.
    CSPs have options when they build their cloud infrastructure with IBM systems; one size does not fit all. IBM offers an extensive product line for the cloud service provider in particular in the Telco space.  IBM systems are optimized for highly threaded environment with lots of services running all the time. New technologies such as eX5, Power7 and IBM zEnterprise are designed to deliver high performance in cloud environments .The choice depends on the workload characteristics or the IaaS offering that CSPs want to make available to their customers. The cloud infrastructure for CSP2 can be deployed on the following systems:

    • Intel X86 with IBM’s eX5 technology
      Provides maximum memory scaling and the largest memory footprint in industry.
      Enables up to 2X the memory capacity, eliminating the memory bottleneck associated with the newer, faster processors.
      Supports more virtual machines, larger virtual machines, and faster database performance per server.
      The eX5 portfolio includes:

      • IBM BladeCenter HX5
      • IBM System x3850 X5
      • IBM System x3950 X5
      • System x3690 X5
    • Power7 large scale virtualization
      Yields higher consolidation and lower costs.
      Enables CSPs to provide an IaaS option based on IBM Power systems for UNIX (AIX) applications, which is a very popular platform for enterprise software.
      A Power7 system can support up to 1000 VMs in a single server, unparalleled in the industry. It is ideal for efficiently handling fluctuating workloads that peak and go dormant for periods of time.
      Provides a secure-multi-tenant environment with advantages in both processor thread management and storage security functionality.
    • IBM zEnterprise
      Consolidates more servers, more networks, more applications, and more data with Linux on z/VM.
      Achieves nearly 100% utilization of system resources nearly 100% of the time.
      Has the highest levels of resource sharing, I/O bandwidth, and system availability.
    • IBM Storage Systems provide availability and scalability:
      • IBM Scale Out Network Attached Storage (SONAS) is designed to allow you to manage massive amounts of data, and scale to multiple petabytes as your needs grow.
      • The N Series offering provides the following efficiencies:
        Excellent performance, flexibility, and scale at a proven lower overall total cost of ownership (TCO)
        Highly efficient capacity utilization
        Comprehensive set of storage resiliency features
        39% lower TCO for VMware
        Backup and recovery of VMs in seconds
        Provision storage as fast as virtual servers
      • SAN Volume Controller provides the ability to integrate existing infrastructure and bring it together in one monolithic storage environment.

To learn more, check out the IBM Systems for Cloud Computing web page.


Not just a cloud marketecture

The IBM Cloud Service Provided Platform was not dreamed on a whiteboard. It is the result of the hard work of hundreds of IBM cloud architects, hardware and software developers, telecommunication industry specialists, and technical and business consultants working on IBM SmartCloud offerings and with clients around the world for over three years. A few examples are as follows:


Analysts’ reviews

CSP2 has received impressive accolades from industry analysts. They agree that IBM’s offering for CSPs is the most comprehensive. IBM won the Reader’s Choice Cloud Vendor of the Year award from TelecomAsia. Several trade press articles describe the IBM Cloud Service Provider Platform as a solution to accelerate market entry, and IBM as a business partner to CSPs, enabling business, in addition to deploying infrastructure and offering guidance to service providers.

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