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It’s all about the business: Winning in the cloud with IBM Cloud Service Provider platform

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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 positioned to take advantage of this opportunity. I also summarized the actions that CSPs must take to transform themselves from communications service provider to cloud service provider.

In the blog post “IBM Cloud Service Provider Platform pumps new life into old networks”, I provided an overview of the IBM solution specially designed to meet the requirements of cloud service providers, in particular in the Telecommunications space. The following figure summarizes the three pillars of the CSP2 offering: create, manage, and monetize.

 

Now I describe the create pillar of CSP2 in more detail.

The create pillar is about transforming your business and creating cloud services quickly. To differentiate yourself, it is important to include in your portfolio the most compelling, relevant, and well targeted set of services. IBM Cloud Service Provider Platform includes consulting services and workshops to help you transform your business and build the new strategy.

The create pillar also includes an ecosystem of software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) providers to help CSPs to build and launch the service portfolio quickly and productively. Many CSPs don’t know for sure what the service offerings should be quite yet, but they want to start by testing the market. You can pilot new services, launch a cloud store front, and test how your customers respond to the pilot services. After you prove that you get traction, then include those services in your portfolio and start acquiring the infrastructure to support your offerings as they scale-out. You want to get to market quickly, and you want to move from an ecosystem of potential services that you could offer to the actual services that you can offer on your cloud storefront. How can you do it? You can do it by exploiting the following components in the create pillar of CSP2:

IBM Cloud Service Accelerator
IBM Cloud Service Accelerator is a key component of the create pillar. It includes cloud services brokerage functionality, software, and middleware technologies to help CSPs to quickly onboard partner-provided applications and solutions to their cloud platform. It includes tools to help CSPs customize their services for differentiation. IBM Cloud Service Accelerator offers the following services:

  • Provides Cloud Services Brokerage (CSB) functionality. CSB plays an intermediary role in cloud computing. CSB makes it easier to integrate, consume, extend, and maintain cloud services, mainly when those services come from multiple cloud service providers. It uses a standardized business model and an adapter technology to bring the offerings into the service catalog easily. IBM collaborated with Jamcracker to enable CSPs to become CSBs to aggregate and deliver third-party cloud services.
  • Helps you to combine and customize services quickly with the IBM Mashup Center. Now that you have some of the existing services available, you want to add value quickly. With the IBM Mashup Center, you can create new services by combining existing services; you can perform lightweight customization of the services to make them unique and differentiate them in the marketplace. You can also use IBM Websphere Cast Iron Cloud Integration technology to integrate the services into your environment, and integrate in-between SaaS services to be able to provide additional differentiation for the services that you bring from the partner ecosystem.
  • Includes tools for advanced customization. Finally, if you believe that there is a significant business opportunity for some of the services, you can really differentiate yourself through true customization. You can manage even the most complex customizations with IBM Rational suite of visual modeling tools. You can provide unified service modeling not only internally to your organization as a CSP but across a partner ecosystem to truly develop and deploy a unique service on your public cloud.

Those components combined, starting with cloud services brokerage, rapid service customization, services integration, and deep service customization, through unified service modeling allow you to onboard services, customize them, integrate them, and launch them very rapidly and with high value for your customers.

IBM CSP2 and Jamcracker partnership
The primary function of Jamcracker as an optional component of the IBM Cloud Service Accelerator is ecosystem aggregation and onboarding. Jamcracker brings a large number of partners that have SaaS and IaaS offerings and are already onboarded to the Jamcracker service delivery network model (JSDN) to allow them to deploy the services rapidly. Through the IBM CSP2’s and Jamcracker’s partnership, CSPs can select from a wide variety of software vendors and applications all available through a single interface. Cisco Webex Meetings, Microsoft Sharepoint, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft BPOS, Google applications, Amazon EC2 are several examples of the applications available for the CSPs to add to their portfolios. This partnership also brings business contracting and business model aggregation. All software vendors in this ecosystem sign the same consistent master distribution agreement. If CSPs want to offer services from multiple software vendors, they don’t have to contract, negotiate, and manage the relationship with each one separately. IBM CSP2 and Jamcracker deliver a unique and comprehensive CSB-enablement solution that allows rapid time-to-market.

It is a hybrid world out there
The reality is that while many customers are adopting SaaS applications, they still use and maintain their on-premises applications, and they will continue doing so for many years to come. There is a need to connect the SaaS applications that CSPs offer to their customers, with the customers’ existing on-premises applications to maximize value, resources, and investments. You can provide significant value to your customers and differentiate yourself in the marketplace, by offering SaaS and on-premises application integration services. WebSphere Cast Iron Cloud Integration provides a simple, fast, and cost effective way to integrate on-premises and cloud applications. With WebSphere Cast Iron Cloud Integration, you can reduce the amount of time to integrate typical SaaS and on-premises applications from weeks to a few days. WebSphere Cast Iron Cloud Integration uses a configuration approach, not a coding approach to cloud integration. It is designed to be simple to use and have everything you need in one place. It achieves this simplicity through the four basic steps shown in the following figure.

The steps are described as follows:

  • Connectivity: WebSphere Cast Iron Cloud Integration connects to a variety of enterprise applications, on-demand applications, databases, flat-files, and more.
  • Transformation: You can map data graphically between source and target applications. For example, if the purchase order number in the customer’s on-premises application is alphanumeric and it is numeric in the SaaS application, you can graphically perform the transformation so that both applications understand the same information.
  • Business logic: You can graphically define the flow of data between source and target applications. For example, you can graphically define all the steps needed to extract purchase order data from the customer’s on-premises enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and send it to the SaaS application.
  • Management: There is only one console to manage the integration, and it provides complete visibility to data flowing between the applications.

Market white-labeled IBM cloud services
Expedite time to revenue and supplement your cloud services portfolio by taking the fast route to market with IBM’s extensive set of public cloud offerings that you can re-brand, market, and sell. Several examples include:

  • 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 website.

Exploit the CSP2 partner ecosystem and IBM PartnerWorld programs
The IBM PartnerWorld organization is fostering the development of a large ecosystem of cloud application developers. IBM can connect CSPs to over 8 million IBM Business Partner developers in 195 countries. Hundreds of applications from the ecosystem of IBM Business Partners are now enabled for SaaS and many more to come. There are several technology providers in the ecosystem whose offerings can complement and add value to the CSP’s portfolio.

IBM invests millions of dollars every year in PartnerWorld programs; in the last few years a large percentage of the investment was applied to helping IBM Business Partners to understand cloud computing and to enable their solutions for SaaS. There are 38 IBM Innovation Centers around the world with the equipment and technical expertise to help IBM Business Partners to get their solutions ready for cloud.

CSPs that make a serious and strategic commitment to the IBM Cloud Service Provider Platform, can also take advantage of PartnerWorld programs. IBM Cloud Computing Specialty can help IBM Business Partners in a variety of areas, including marketing, technical, training, and collaboration efforts.

Summary
The consulting services, partner ecosystem, products, and technologies under the create pillar of CSP2 help you with the following tasks:

  • Redefine your business strategy through consulting services and strategy workshops.
  • Reinvent your services portfolio in alignment with your new business strategy.
  • Bring new services to the market quickly. CSP2 offers a wide range of partnered-enabled applications from the relationship with Jamcracker, IBM public cloud offerings, and IBM Business Partner ecosystem that you can re-brand and sell.
  • Add value and differentiation to the services you bring to the market by:
  • Combining and customizing services quickly with the IBM Mashup Center
  • Integrating on-premises and SaaS applications and in-between SaaS applications quickly and cost effectively with IBM WebSphere Cast Iron Cloud Integration
  • Performing complex customizations with IBM Rational suite of visual modeling tools

Are you a CSP looking at transforming your business and becoming a cloud service provider? Where are you in the transformation journey? Are you a consultant helping CSPs with the transformation? Can you share lessons learned? Are you looking at becoming a Cloud Service Provider and you are not in the telecommunications industry? If so, to which industry do you belong (for example, financial services, government, other). We’d like to hear from you; please submit a comment to this post or contact me directly at adan@us.ibm.com.

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