& cplSiteName &

The Other Microsoft

Ray Le Maistre
3/30/2011
50%
50%

Mention Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) in telecom circles these days and the chances are people will start talking about the software giant's groundbreaking partnership with Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) that was announced in February. (See Nokia: How Microsoft Deal Could Fail , MWC 2011: Microsoft & Nokia Court Carriers , Nokia Unveils Major Revamp and Nokia, Microsoft Team Up.)

But mobile device operating system (OS) developments comprise just one part of Microsoft's involvement in the communications services sector these days, and there's evidence that following a few years in some disarray, the vendor's Communications Sector division has managed to get its act together and is becoming an influential partner and supplier to the world's major service providers.

Reaching that position hasn't come easy, though. It's taken something of an upheaval to turn the division into a carrier-grade operation, one that can team up with, and satisfy the demands of, a major global carrier such as Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF). (See Microsoft Gives Telefónica an Apps Edge .)

Following several years of partnerships, a sustained IPTV platform strategy, and intense marketing of its Connected Services Framework (CSF) service delivery platform that formed the lynchpin of its efforts to bring telecom operators and applications developers together, the Communications Sector division lost some senior staff, lost focus and -- parts of it at least -- withered on the vine during 2008 and 2009. (See Microsoft Tweaks Its Carrier Strategy and Microsoft Exec Jumps Ship.)

The mobile OS developments continued apace, with varied results, while the IPTV platform business, which was given its own brand of Mediaroom, evolved into one of the market leaders with help from partner Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU). Today it has 50 signed customers, of which more than 30 have deployed the platform and which are collectively serving more than 6 million customers, about 13 percent of the world's total user base. (See Europe to Lose Its IPTV Crown and Microsoft WP7 Shipments Start Slow.)

However, the broader relationships with carriers based around revenue-sharing hosted services (email, instant messaging) appeared to lack structure, with some operators reporting during 2009 that multiple Microsoft teams appeared to be trying to peddle the same business but without coordination, communication or conviction.

A shake-up was needed -- and that's what the Communications Sector got.

New faces, new drive
In July 2009, Austen Mulinder, already at the company about two years, was appointed corporate vice president of the Communications Sector and set about licking it, and in some cases kicking it, into shape. Mulinder admits that when he took charge there were issues to address, particularly the focus and strategy of the division.

Now, it seems, his team, which has added seasoned industry executives such as former Sylantro CEO Marco Limena, knows what it's doing and why. "A year ago this [telecom operator channel] business was more a hobby than a strategy for Microsoft, but no longer," Mulinder told Light Reading during a recent interview.

"The rest of the company has come on board with the ideas of the telco as a channel," adds the Brit, who says the Comms Sector's business-to-business strategy has evolved during the past year into a syndication model, wherein service providers bundle Microsoft-hosted (or cloud-based) applications (dubbed Office 365) into their enterprise packages. (See Microsoft Courting SPs as Cloudmates.)

During 2010, big names such as Telstra Corp. Ltd. (ASX: TLS; NZK: TLS) and Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) signed up for this model, and Mulinder says "30 telcos, including six of the top eight," have now signed up. "We're going to make the market for off-premises applications, and the telcos can get in on this."

There are some partner-hosted relationships where the service provider builds its own hosted Exchange capabilities, but these, he says, are in the minority. (See T-Systems, Microsoft Team for Shell and Reliance Comm Gets Cloudy.)

Altogether, the syndicated and hosted services market is growing at more than 30 percent per year and makes more than US$1 billion a year, according to the Microsoft executive.

But Mulinder knows he faces a very tough task to maintain that sort of growth and remain a key partner to the telcos. "There are strong competitors -- there's no free lunch here. But the smart partners can see the opportunity" in the syndication model and use it as an opportunity to secure a foothold in the emerging cloud services market.

The shift to cloud services by companies of all sizes will "be a 10-to-15-year discontinuity," he says, and it's not just talk. "The move to the cloud is real," he believes, and it's a move that will be helped by the introduction of next-generation mobile services. "With the introduction of Long Term Evolution (LTE) it'll become easier for SMBs to shift to cloud services," Mulinder believes.

SPIT partnerships
Another part of the drive towards securing deeper and more meaningful relationships with telecom operators has been the strategy to team up with key Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) vendors to provide integrated solutions. (See Convergys, Microsoft Team Up.)

For example, Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) (LHS), Convergys Corp. (NYSE: CVG), MetraTech Corp. , Redknee Inc. (Toronto TSX: RKN) and Tech Mahindra Ltd. are all offering Microsoft's Dynamics customer relationship management (CRM) product alongside their telecom billing systems.

The opportunities for such partner sales are "off the charts," says Mulinder, who is looking to compete against some of the bigger Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) players that have used their M&A muscle to build in-house OSS and BSS packages for telcos. "Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) has made a good fist of it [good old-fashioned British colloquialism] -- we're seeing a huge amount of interest from companies that didn't get swept up by Oracle" to combine their telecom software assets with Microsoft CRM and sales automation platforms. "Oracle is clearly very strong, but we see big opportunities." (See Oracle/Sun Expresses Telco Ambitions, Oracle's Higher Price Lands BEA, Oracle Buys More OSS With MetaSolv and Oracle Buying Into Service Delivery .)

And it's clear that Microsoft has at least the capability to make the most of those opportunities while it has a well-defined strategy, strong leadership and a renewed reputation. As Telefónica executive José Valles told Light Reading this week, Microsoft "has changed… [it] has lost the arrogance it used to have."

As it's shown before, though, things can change very quickly at the software giant.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
digits
50%
50%
digits,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:09:10 PM
re: The Other Microsoft


Microsoft may just have found its place in the comms services food chain. A few years ago it was trying to get operators to use its SDP for service creation and delivery, and now its working with operators such as Telefonica that have deployed other SDPs but need what is essentially provisioning support (cloud services enablement) and some ready-made hosted applications that businesses use every day.


Microsoft can deliver these and oesn't have to spend years on R&D and marketing something that, as a non-telecoms company, it's not so hot at. But it's an IT player that can help telcos with their Bridging the Chasm strategies - bringing IT and network capabilities together.


 


Bridging the Chasm: A Manifesto


http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=203224 

From The Founder
Cisco's Conrad Clemson, recently promoted to head up the company's Service Provider Apps & Platforms developments, talks to Light Reading's Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about how he's bringing cloud video, mobile and virtualization together to empower network operators.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Documentaries
Twilight Star Authors AI Paper

1|24|17   |   00:46   |   (0) comments


Actress Kristen Stewart, best known for starring in the Twilight movies, has co-authored an academic paper on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in a short film she has directed.
LRTV Documentaries
Apple, Qualcomm Lock Horns Over Licensing

1|24|17   |   01:07   |   (0) comments


Industry giants clash over licensing fees.
LRTV Interviews
Heavy Reading: The Web-Scale View

1|18|17   |     |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's 2020 Vision Executive Summit in Rome, Heavy Reading's former chief analyst Patrick Donegan shared insight from the recent web-scale operators report, which featured research on how web-scale operators view the market, the best web-scale companies to ...
LRTV Custom TV
Cisco's Cloud Scale Networking: Automation, Virtualization & Simplification

1|18|17   |     |   (1) comment


Cisco's Sanjeev Mervana outlines the latest innovations in networking technology at CES 2017 in Las Vegas.
LRTV Custom TV
ADVA Talks Innovation & the Future of Networking

1|17|17   |     |   (0) comments


Ray Le Maistre and Christoph Glingener, CTO of ADVA Optical Networking, discuss the current state of the industry, cooperation and collaboration, open innovation and the future of networking.
LRTV Custom TV
Cisco's Infinite Video Platform

1|17|17   |     |   (0) comments


Cisco's Infinite Video Platform allows service providers to deliver broadcast-quality video over IP networks. Infinite video supports many devices, from 4K TVs to tablets to game consoles. Join Cisco's Rajeev Raman for a brief tour and live demo.
LRTV Interviews
Masergy: Ability to Adapt Key for NFV

1|16|17   |   6:40   |   (0) comments


Speaking at Light Reading's 2020 Vision in Rome, Masergy's VP, Global Technology, Ray Watson, said agility is key to providing the mix and match NFV-based services that are driving business for the managed service provider today.
LRTV Interviews
Equinix: The Data Explosion

1|13|17   |   4:16   |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's 2020 Vision in Rome, Eric Schwartz, president of EMEA, Equinix, talked about how Equinix is helping its customers manage the influx of data today, and how it's preparing for a future filled with millions of connected IoT devices.
LRTV Interviews
Heavy Reading: The Changing Data Center Landscape

1|12|17   |   6:05   |   (1) comment


At Light Reading's 2020 Vision event in Rome, Heavy Reading's Senior Analyst Roz Roseboro talks about how virtualization is impacting data center evolution and how that evolution is affecting the relationship between service providers, data center operators and public cloud providers.
LRTV Interviews
Boingo: Prepping for Millions of Devices

1|12|17   |   5:07   |   (1) comment


At Light Reading's 2020 Vision in Rome, Boingo's CTO Derek Peterson discusses how wireless operators will address the needs of low-bandwidth and high-bandwidth apps at the same time, the need for more MHz, the impact of IoT and more.
LRTV Interviews
Comcast Shows Off Gig Gateway at CES

1|11|17   |     |   (1) comment


With its largest presence at CES in years, Comcast took the wraps off its long-awaited gigabit gateway and a new platform for managing the home WiFi network. Light Reading Senior Editor Mari Silbey sat down with EVP Chris Satchell to discuss the latest Comcast advance, and met with VP of Product Strategy and Development Andrea Peiro to walk through a demo of the ...
LRTV Interviews
Colt: End-to-End Key for 2017

1|10|17   |   6:21   |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's 2020 Vision Executive Summit in Rome, Nico Fischbach of Colt said having a multi-carrier, end-to-end service proposition is going to be key for 2017 -- and SD-WAN is instrumental in making it happen.
Upcoming Live Events
March 21-22, 2017, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
May 15-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
A Women in Comms Glossary
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 1/18/2017
Is Cable One Beefing Up for Slaughter?
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 1/20/2017
Google Security Lessons for IT
Curtis Franklin, Security Editor, 1/18/2017
Nokia CTO: 2017 Is the Year 5G Gets in the Field
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 1/19/2017
Do Women-Only Co-Working Spaces Work for Women?
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 1/24/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders chats with Sportlogiq CEO Craig Buntin about sports data analysis.
Eyal Waldman, CEO of Mellanox Technologies, speaks to Steve Saunders, CEO of Light Reading, for an exclusive interview about the 100 GB cable challenge, cybersecurity and much more.
Animals with Phones
You've Heard of Slow Food? Click Here
This is slow tech.
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.