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August 16, 2011

Opportunities Can Be Captured in the Cloud: an ITEXPO West Interview

Technological advancements can often propel specific industries and the success of companies competing in those industries. In anticipation of the upcoming ITEXPO West event in Austin, TMC CEO Rich Tehrani spoke with John Frame, director of Product Management for Sigma Systems (News - Alert). When asked how his market segment has evolved over the past year, Frame noted that the evolution has been taking place for the past business cycle as his company has seen the advancement of the IT back office for OSS service, as well as device provisioning moving into the cloud.

As for the next disruptive force in technology, Frame pointed to value-added services and applications that have been created and offered from outside of the cable and telecom service operator’s network as a disruptive force and an opportunity to enable new revenue streams. Frame also noted that as the adoption of the cloud model becomes the norm, cloud services brokering is experiencing another point of evolution in the IT back office. As for most common customer demands, Frame noted they are seeking to remove IT operational silos, while also integrating all OSS service fulfillment processes from a single OSS platform.

The continued growth of social media is also driving the creation of personalized and integrated IP video and entertainment services as operators seek to deliver the unified customer experience. For the ITEXPO (News - Alert) West event in Austin, Frame expects that Bob Metcalfe will be the must see at the Startup Camp event. During his ITEXPO West session, Frame will make the case that providers will succeed in bringing a cloud service brokerage offering to the market when they have been able to develop and implement a back-office strategy that will capture the reality of the proprietary methods in use by cloud providers today.

Their entire conversation follows:

How has your market segment evolved over the past year and what trends have fueled those changes?

Not just for the past year, but certainly for the past business cycle; we are seeing the advancement of the IT back office for OSS service and device provisioning move into the cloud. Cable and telecom service providers, as well as software solution providers in this market are offering and delivering hosted solutions in a multi-tenant architecture to subordinate operators. Hence, mid- to large-sized operators are taking a bigger part of the business and revenue growth in multi-play broadband services by enabling smaller operators to automate their IT back office and scale their businesses through ASP deployment and business models.

What do you see as the next disruptive force in technology and how will it impact your market or business?

We see value-added services and applications created and offered from ‘outside’ the cable and telecom service operator’s network as both a disruptive force, and an opportunity for operators to enable new revenue streams. The biggest disruptor and largest demand by consumers is the requirement for more advanced and personalized entertainment services. Service providers, for the most part, will no longer be able to offer all entertainment options to their consumers. Integrated entertainment solution offerings, such as TiVO, are enabling both on-network and off-network (cloud) enabled content in a unified customer experience.

With TiVO and other entertainment offerings, the related video and content services are hosted in the cloud.  This is driving the evolution of IT back offices for OSS service provisioning to orchestrate the authorization and entitlements management for cloud accessible, IP video services.

How has the acceptance and adoption of the cloud model influenced your development cycle and process?

As the adoption of the cloud model becomes the norm, we see cloud services brokering experiencing another point of evolution in the IT back office. Adoption of SaaS (News - Alert) cloud services by service providers and the entrance of new SaaS service providers require an expanded set of OSS service fulfillment capabilities. The next-generation of cloud services fulfillment is driving new development initiatives such as extending SaaS provider API integration, targeted service packages, advanced service recommendation capabilities, integrated service ordering procedures and point-of-order interfaces.

What is the most common request you are seeing from your customers? How is your company addressing these demands?

Most of our service provider customers are commonly looking to remove IT operational silos and integrate all OSS service fulfillment processes from a single OSS platform. Increasingly, both residential and business service offerings are now managed from a single OSS service fulfillment platform. Traditionally, these service classes have been managed in separate IT silos and solutions. With the advancement of cloud services (entertainment, communications, collaboration, etc.), our customers are now looking to orchestrate the cloud services brokering lifecycle to on-board, provision and activate off-network cloud services and applications.

How is the continued growth of social media changing service and product development strategies?

With the advent of personalized and integrated IP video and entertainment services, service operators are also including access to social media applications as part of a unified customer experience. This next-generation customer experience is no longer just linked to a “household” or a “street address”. A customer’s identity and linkage to a wide array of services is typically correlated to subscriber’s email account or similar information. Authorized and entitled access to social media and other value-added entertainment applications can be effectively managed by an integrated process of OSS service fulfillment and brokering processes in the IT back office.

What are you most looking forward to at ITEXPO West in Austin? What do you see as being the biggest trends at the show?

I think Bob Metcalfe is going to be a must see at the Startup Camp event at ITEXPO. 

There are over five million businesses in the U.S with less than 20 employees looking for solutions that can increase their revenue and growth while keeping costs down.  Cloud solutions have been in the market for well over 10 years and, to this day, they continue to struggle with the cost of goods sold when approaching the SMB market.  Finally, service providers are investing in offerings that increase ARPU and address churn.  Each of these groups are starting to see the possibilities of working together.

The show agenda this year mirrors the trends people across our industry are talking about – the need to bring together SMB, service providers and the cloud.  While the topics have been on various agendas for many years, never have they been so intertwined.  Many of the topics that will be addressed explicitly talk about bringing SMB, service providers and cloud providers together for the benefit of all three.

What issues will you be addressing during your ITEXPO session and why should attendees be sure to attend?

Jobs and Wozniack, Lennon and McCartney, Jordan and Pippen; remarkable performances come about when great partnerships are formed.  All the analysts and pundits are talking about how cloud service brokerage will create tremendous growth by bringing together those organizations the SMBs trust today with SaaS solutions that are focused on the SMB’s business.   Service providers have a trusted relationship with the SMB market, putting them in a good position, but service providers won’t be a natural go-to cloud service broker for SMBs.  Success will be driven by leadership in the IT back-office, enabling service providers to address this new market while improving ARPU and churn.

Past pressure to remove IT operational silos and integrate all OSS service fulfillment processes into a single OSS platform pales when presented in the diverse cloud provider market that a cloud brokerage service requires.  Our discussion at ITEXPO will make the case that providers will succeed in bringing a cloud service brokerage offering to market when they have developed and implemented a back-office strategy that captures the reality of the thousands of proprietary methods for authentication, order management, catalog and order orchestration in use by today’s cloud providers.  These successful providers will have a back office that contains the intelligence behind a strong abstraction layer to separate and orchestrate the IT service fulfillment in an architecture that lacks, but over time, will embrace evolving standards.


To find out more about John Frame and Sigma Systems, visit the company at ITEXPO West 2011. To be held Sept. 13-15 in Austin, TX, ITEXPO is the world’s premier IP communications event. John Frame is speaking during “Back-office Keys to Winning with Service Bundles for SMBs.” Don’t wait. Register now.

Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO… follow us on Twitter.

 


Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell
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