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New IBM Platform for Telcos Takes Public Cloud Computing to a New Level

Combines hardware, software, services, partners in turn-key provider package

IBM's has announced a new offering for the global "Telecom 1000" that has the potential to turbo-charge the telcos' entry into public cloud computing services, a market expected to grow to nearly $90B in the next five years.  The IBM Cloud Service Provider Platform is what the company calls, "a comprehensive set of hardware, software and services to help providers rapidly deliver cloud computing on their own," and adds, "It includes the most advanced, carrier-grade technology with all the essential security and service management capabilities to ensure reliability essential to their own customers."

In addition to technology and services from IBM, the platform also incorporates products and services from an array of small and large partners and promises to make it easy for the telecommunications service providers to offer a broad variety of public cloud services, including things such as "collaboration applications, customer relationship management services, data storage, back up and recovery, and industry-specific applications."

The platform addresses a number of key impediments to the establishment of ubiquitous utility-grade public cloud services.  Large customers have been slowed down by their concerns about reliability and security, the telcos have struggled with implementation and monitization of compelling services, and early cloud service providers like Amazon, Microsoft, Salesforce and others have lacked the infrastructure scale, reliability, technical richness, and reach necessary to fully satisfy large global customers.  The telcos own the global T1 IP networks and have decades of experience in delivering SLA-bound IT and communications services at four and five nines of reliability, making them the natural providers for public cloud services; but, they seem to have had a hard time figuring out the business and convincing customers to give them a try with it.  The IBM offering should go a long way in breaking this log jam.

At the core of the platform is the IBM Service Delivery Manager software, an advanced set of tools for automating the deployment, monitoring and management of cloud computing services. Plus, there is the Tivoli Netcool network and service assurance facilities and other IBM software for integrated service management, network monitoring, built-in security, storage virtualization, service level agreement management and accounting management.  Furthermore, IBM is backing up the technology with a menu of services aimed at getting the telcos up and going with the platform.  These include business strategy consulting, sales training and education, business intelligence and analytics, application development and testing, and integration services.

All of that sounds like business as usual for Big Blue, but, wait, there's more.  IBM had the wisdom in this gambit to know that it takes an ecosystem to raise a public cloud service, and they have put together a dandy one.  In the typical no-brag-just-fact tone of a company that can buy or build whatever it wants or needs, the platform announcement describes the surrounding ecosystem like this:

"Companies such as Broadsoft, Corent Technology, deCarta, Jamcracker, Juniper Networks, NetApp, Openet, RightScale and Wavemaker are supporting the platform today and are joined by a range of cloud builders, application, technology and infrastructure providers, as well as resellers, and cloud aggregators. IBM's Venture Capital Group worked with six of these nine partners during their startup phase, helping them to become IBM Business Partners and make their technologies enterprise-ready using IBM hardware and software. This ecosystem can be accessed through a global network of 38 IBM Innovation Centers with dedicated technology, marketing and sales resources to help integrate partner applications and vendor technologies. Other vendors leave this complex work to the customer."

Take that, Cisco, EMC, and VMware with your cute little VCE "Colation" and that weird Acadia implementation outfit.  Hey, HP, you're gonna need a whole lot more than 3Com, 3Par and EDS.  Oh, Oracle - Sun and Exadata, really?  How many telcos are any of you guys gonna sell now?  Enjoy the private cloud action while it lasts because public utility computing is about to be way more competitive and IBM is getting ready to party like it's 1969, when competitors survived by bobbing in Big Blue's wake and diving for chum.  Yum-o.

Scott Stainken, general manager, IBM global telecommunications industry sums it up, "IBM is the only one to offer proven, carrier-grade reliability and the only one of its kind that can deliver scalable and secure cloud computing over heterogeneous networks. Today's news goes beyond just providing the infrastructure, we're also bringing together partners and expertise to help providers grow cloud services into a profitable new business."

IBM already has some impressive customers lined up for the new platform, with Orange in Europe, Shanghai Telecom, and SK (South Korea) Telecom in Asia, Tellus in Canada, and others currently mounting pilot project, and the IBM global sales force is bearing down on "the top 1,000 communications service providers worldwide, including all 20 of the largest global providers."  That's not good news for Amazon, Google, Salesforce, Microsoft and the growing multitude of public cloud service providers who are currently serving SMB  but have designs on the enterprise.  Properly equipped, the telcos, who own the wires that go right through the customers' walls and the cell waves that go through their windows, could seriously blunt those enterprise ambitions.  And, for that matter, a number of telcos already in the public cloud business have had some success with SMBs, anyway.  So, from both ends of the spectrum, telecom companies becoming competent public cloud service providers is the last thing those young, hip cloud pioneers will want to see.

Sometimes in the past, when IBM went all-in on something new, it was like your fat old Uncle Murray getting frosted tips and pukka beads and calling everybody, "Bro" - embarrassing for them and impossible for anyone else to take seriously.  It made customers cringe, competitors smirk, and partners stay away.  But, to the credit of the current leadership team, they haven't done anything like that for quite a while now, and this announcement was pitch-perfect, Yo.




More Stories By Tim Negris

Tim Negris is SVP, Marketing & Sales at Yottamine Analytics, a pioneering Big Data machine learning software company. He occasionally authors software industry news analysis and insights on, is a 25-year technology industry veteran with expertise in software development, database, networking, social media, cloud computing, mobile apps, analytics, and other enabling technologies.

He is recognized for ability to rapidly translate complex technical information and concepts into compelling, actionable knowledge. He is also widely credited with coining the term and co-developing the concept of the “Thin Client” computing model while working for Larry Ellison in the early days of Oracle.

Tim has also held a variety of executive and consulting roles in a numerous start-ups, and several established companies, including Sybase, Oracle, HP, Dell, and IBM. He is a frequent contributor to a number of publications and sites, focusing on technologies and their applications, and has written a number of advanced software applications for social media, video streaming, and music education.

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