Cloud enablement

SPIT Sector Outlook: IBM's Cloudy View

The level of activity in the mobile and broadband sectors for Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) systems in mature communications services markets is "phenomenal," according to a senior executive from IBM Tivoli .

Kieran Moynihan, VP and CTO for the telecom sector at IBM Tivoli, says the number of RFPs (requests for proposal), trials, and deployments in the service quality, customer experience, and intelligent customer care sectors has risen dramatically because "the operators have realized that subscriber numbers are saturated, and there's no point in dragging prices down any further," so they need to find other ways to differentiate.

In addition, the operators are facing increasing competition from cable operators and over-the-top service/application providers, and also need to cut their headcounts and operating costs, so they need to find more efficient ways of creating and providing services and supporting their customers' needs -- all key capabilities that SPIT systems can help enable. (See The SPIT Manifesto.)

"It's a healthy industry, but I've never seen so much pressure on the service providers," says Moynihan.

And it's not just the millions of residential mobile and broadband customers that the telcos are needing to consider. "Enterprise users are going out to market to look for intelligent CRM capabilities" with RFPs that place an increasing emphasis on service quality and customer experience metrics.

"The enterprises are asking tough questions of the service providers. They're rolling out unified communications internally and are looking for unified offers from the telcos, and are asking about cloud services. They're looking for the roadmap towards low-cost, efficient, converged offerings... with real-time service level agreements," including the tools that will help them monitor their customer portals. "It's compelling, but very complex," says the IBM man.

The big play just now, and one that Moynihan feels IBM Tivoli, which recently added to its SPIT assets with the acquisition of Intelliden, is well placed to capitalize upon, is the "big rush by the telcos into the cloud. They need the same types of OSS and BSS systems that they already have, so we've been replicating our telco software for the cloud" -- for example, customer experience management (CEM) software. (See The Buzz About CEM, IBM Enables Cloud Analytics, and IBM Makes Intelliden Buy.)

"We've got the IT and cloud experience and the background in telco software," having brought the likes of Micromuse into the company some years back, notes Moynihan. "We've started work with some advanced customers, and we have the basic capabilities. We've developed some advanced cloud management capabilities, and we're pulling it together. The enterprises are a bit nervous about using services and applications in the cloud, but they trust the telcos. It's going to be a massive challenge for the operators, though," with specific capabilities such as dynamic charging set to be critical to cloud management offerings.

Moynihan also notes that there's an increasing demand for service delivery platform (SDP) smarts. "It's a slow burning fuse, but we've been shipping a lot of SDP stuff recently. The service providers are figuring out how to leverage the SDP approach. It's not a big bang approach -- that's too difficult -- so they've been taking it step by step" as they work out their strategies for working with third-party applications developers and developing app store capabilities. (See IBM Targets Telcos' Apps Dev Needs and Developer Apathy Could Curb Telco App Stores.)

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to Three OSS Imperatives: Customer, Cost & Cloud, a Light Reading Virtual Event for service providers that need to understand how to adapt and transform their operational support systems to put customers first, drive out cost, and support new cloud-based services. To take place on Tuesday, April 20, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time, access is free. For more information, or to register, click here.

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