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IBM launches new cloud services platform for service providers

Computing giant claims unprecedented scalability, carrier-specific management capabilities

IBM today announced a hardware and software platform aimed at enabling service providers to offer cloud-based services that are highly scalable. Service providers that opt to work with IBM also will benefit from the computing giant’s expertise in the IT business, IBM Vice President Craig Wilson told Connected Planet.

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“We’ve been working with some carriers that have been in some form of managed or hosting services for quite awhile,” said Wilson. “We’ve been working with them for the better part of two years on proof of concept and what it takes to be successful in this market. What we’re-announcing is built around the work we’ve done with carriers to look at what will make them competitive and what they need from us to build on an investment they have already made or not [yet] offered in the marketplace today.”

IBM can help service providers in the cloud market in three ways—by helping them create, manage and monetize services, Wilson said.

On the service-creation side, IBM will make a new hardware and software platform available to service providers built on its Service Delivery Manager, which the company says can scale up to one million virtual machines. The company also says the platform can provision tens of thousands of virtual machines per hour.

The platform also includes tools to help service providers create new cloud-based services. By leveraging IBM’s expertise, Wilson said, service providers should be able to develop offerings targeting specific vertical industries, such as government, health, and transportation, as well as mobile payment offerings. Such offerings are “high on most telcos’ radar,” Wilson said.

On the management side, IBM will offer tools aimed at meeting security, provisioning and service level management requirements that are unique to the service provider market, said Wilson.

“What we’ve done is said service providers’ definition of end-to-end service management is much broader than the enterprise’s will ever be,” Wilson explained. “We also know service providers will have applications and services that run on non-IBM equipment. We can support having to manage services across multiple hardware platforms.”

As for monetization, Wilson said IBM offers service providers the ability to use customer data as well as network analytics to expand their portfolio of offerings.

Carriers already using the IBM cloud services platform include several based outside North America, including Orange Business Services, SK Telecom, and China Telecom. Wilson said IBM also has worked with North American carriers, which he declined to name, on proofs of concept involving the new platform. He also noted that Verizon and Qwest offer what he called “white label” cloud services developed by IBM.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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