Clouds are well suited to CSP needs—but also require best-in-class service management
For communications service providers (CSPs) today, opportunity knocks—but only for a short time. And answering that knock will, in many cases, mean rethinking their service delivery infrastructures.
Part of the issue lies in agility. As customer needs and interests expand and change, CSPs must respond in parallel. The CSPs capable of responding more rapidly and cost-effectively stand to reap impressive business benefits—increased market share, reduced customer churn, and higher revenues.
Conventional CSP infrastructures, however, often yield less-than-ideal agility. New services imply new hardware and software, which in turn must be purchased, deployed, and integrated; this long cycle slows service rollout. Service management, too, is not accomplished in as unified or cohesive a fashion as it should be, the result of fragmented management tools that don't interoperate seamlessly.
Cloud computing promises a superior approach. Via a cloud, CSPs can create new services without necessarily having to purchase more infrastructure; instead, they simply utilize the existing infrastructure in new ways. Because clouds can leverage virtualization and automation at a deep level, they also deliver services in an optimized fashion. As more resources are required by unexpected demand, those resources are allocated fluidly. Furthermore, because cloud-rendered services generally require less ongoing oversight by operations team members, human talent can be redirected to more strategic goals—such as the creation and deployment of entirely new services to address emerging customer demand.
To fulfill this compelling vision, however, CSPs will need more than just a cloud architecture per se. They'll also need an integrated, optimized solution to manage and govern the cloud, and the services it delivers, for best business results over the full service lifecycle.
IBM's response: IBM Integrated Service Management for Cloud Service Providers—a complete, centralized solution for creating, deploying, and managing cloud-born, carrier-grade services. It supports all the types of clouds CSPs may wish to deploy, whether public, private, or hybrid. Furthermore, it applies not just to customer-focused services, but also internal services used by the CSP itself, thus helping to maximize the business value the CSP gets from the cloud.
IBM's service management core capitalizes on cloud strengths
One of the key strengths of Integrated Service Management for CSPs lies in the way it can easily be customized to suit the specific context of any given CSP.
The solution is offered as a central core of basic features and functions which can be augmented by modular extension groups; CSPs can select from the extensions that most closely match their needs. In this way, they can arrive at a tailored management solution that delivers best business value from the cloud as they define business value.
The core service solution itself is comprised of seven key components:
Collectively, these features give CSPs the power to utilize clouds, and manage all cloud services, in a substantially enhanced manner. Because management controls extend to all resources—server, storage, network, hypervisor, and applications—the CSP has the visibility needed to see how the cloud is performing, the control needed to make adjustments in real time, and the automation through which the cloud's business agility and process consistency are maximized.
Four extensions generate even more business value
For even more granularity and power, CSPs can then customize the solution beyond this core by adding any or all of four extensions. These address specialized, business-critical areas of cloud service delivery.
Just as a cloud promises extraordinary power as a unified, centralized platform of service delivery, it also often requires extraordinary security measures to ensure that only the right people obtain access to key services and data—and then, with the right access privileges.
Toward that end, this security extension includes leading identity and access management, network security, data synchronization, real-time database activity monitoring, and automated regulation compliance.
Proactive design helps eliminate many threats before they even have a chance to manifest. Application vulnerabilities, should they occur, can be identified and addressed with remarkable speed, minimizing their potential business impact. Security issues, in general, are logically confined to their original contexts—unable to spread from one virtual server to another, or one customer to another, even though the cloud is a unified architecture.
For CSPs, in particular, best business value from a cloud will require taking into account network complexities. This network management extension does so via best-in-class network performance, traffic analysis, and configuration management.
Drill-down visibility into the root cause of network bottlenecks can help increase service levels—and ensure the terms of SLAs are met. And operational costs also fall via proactive problem identification, automated network device configuration and traffic management, and capacity allocation.
In an optimized cloud, all key resources should be virtualized—including storage. This storage extension delivers exactly that, thanks to features that provision storage when and where it's required, in real time, based on business policies. Instead of simply having to buy more storage, the CSP thus achieves smarter utilization of the storage it already has.
Furthermore, this component also performs storage-related tasks, such as data backup and restoration, for higher business resilience through exceptionally swift recovery point times. And because these tasks are rendered intelligently—automatically and via storage tiers that pair specific media with the business priority of data—the overall costs of storage fall considerably.
Advanced monitoring and service level management
Optimizing services from end to end requires both superior visibility and a swift, effective response at appropriate times.
For the best possible insight into services, this advanced monitoring component includes real-time dashboards, analytics, and reporting, to ascertain exactly how the cloud is supporting business goals and creating a superior user/customer experience. And toward addressing specific issues as fast and cost-effectively as possible, it also includes event and alert management, incident and problem management, automated operations management, and application monitoring—all of which help to assure services are generating the best possible business value over time.
Pulse Comes to You 2011
At Pulse Comes to You (PCTY) 2011 events around the world, IBM Executives and Industry Leaders will share how Integrated Service Management can deliver the Visibility. Control. Automation.™ needed to deliver differentiated services and build competitive advantage on a Smarter Planet.
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