There is little doubt that with cloud computing we are taking part in a transformation of almost unprecedented size in how we develop, deliver and consume applications and services. There is ample evidence of the model’s pervasiveness: nearly one in five people in the world are smartphone or tablet users (a number that’s steadily increasing) and nearly every application or service delivered for one of those devices is driven by a cloud-based delivery engine of one type or another. In another domain, more than 50% of business IT managers are using or experimenting with at least one IT application or service in a public, private or hybrid cloud deployment today.
Yet, even with the appeal of being able to deliver "everything as a service" from a cloud-based platform, important questions abound about the best paths to take in implementations, whether you are a product developer, system integrator, service provider, IT manager, investor, or simply a person with a keen interest in how cloud services are created, what the differences between implementations are, and what the best ways are for putting the technologies and services to work for you.
ACG’s research in cloud computing technologies, platforms and services brings an experienced and independent eye to the most important developments in the cloud computing market. Deep understanding of the architectures employed in service delivery and the value of those architectures in different customers' environments informs the research. Quantitative analysis supports research on market sizes and trends in the most important product categories, including overlay virtual networks, virtual machine and virtual computing platforms, orchestration software, and integrated software services platforms. Parallel research on technology and architectural innovation, prominent use cases, and business case analysis on platform and service deployment characteristics supports continuous delivery of qualitative analysis on critical aspects of cloud technologies and services.
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Case: Secure Cloud Services Delivery Framework
Client: Tier 1 Service Provider
Problem: SP had separate service offerings for different managed business services and different client sizes and verticals. Business customer evolution to secure cloud computing services offered by SP was desired end-state. Plan for evolving presently separate offerings into family of services for flexible customer deployment models and uptake rates was needed. End game of transparent business access to secure computing and hosted applications needed to be defined.
Work performed: Cross-functional and multi-disciplinary team to work on solution analysis and definition created. Customer and SP operational functional requirements for realization of modular framework defined. Phased development and offer delivery plan defined. Offers for both a la carte secure service components as well as inclusive end-to-end secure cloud computing framework defined. Phased plan for development of new service menu created.
Value: SP was able to define evolution plans for key service offerings allowing them to continue strong relationships with key business customers and bring new value to them by expanding into new areas of emerging need. Harnessing the talents of multiple implementation teams into a unified service framework accelerated their time to market. Leveraging insights from multiple domains of expertise (security, cloud computing, managed network services, and others) enabled powerful development of competitive and sustainable value add for the SP in its markets.
Case: Accelerated Network and IT Services Virtualization
Client: Innovative Regional Business Services SP
Problem: SP had silo network and IT service offerings for its business customer base. SP risked falling behind competitively if easier engagement of business IT customers in moving services to the cloud could not be accomplished. Objective was to define an appealing, differentiated path to enticing business customers to run workloads and IT operations more seamlessly in the SP’s cloud.
Work performed: Create joint working team with SP. Develop vision of more integrated and flexible service delivery platform for varying amounts of VPN, cloud-based IT (XaaS), and application hosting services to be offered a la carte and in bundles to businesses. Establish architectural migration plan for increased simplicity, virtualization of service functions, and modularity of offerings across SP’s regional service delivery platform. Assist in justification of implementation plans and development of market engagement materials showcasing the evolved offerings and their benefits.
Value: SP developed differentiated bundles of cloud-based services blending virtualized network and IT services with applicartions from business application partners. Value proposition of SP with its business customers for simpler, more cost-effective and more flexible environments for businesses to leverage in their operations was strengthened. Path to sustained revenue generation and business growth was established.
Case: Develop Cloud Orchestration Platforms Integration Plan
Client: Network Equipment Vendor
Problem: A prominent vendor of networking equipment needed to augment its offerings with the ability to work more seamlessly with leading cloud service orchestration platforms. It was not possible to engage the full list of potential suppliers in creating an effective set of offerings. A plan to prioritize use cases, customer segments, orchestration vendors and platforms to work with was required.
Work performed: Cross-functional team to guide analysis and decisions was formed. Evaluation and choice of priority customer segments to address. Definition of use cases to be addressed within the segments. Definition of requirements to be addressed by integrated solutions within the segments. Prioritization of orchestration suppliers to be engaged in developing joint solution offerings. Definition of work required in each partner’s case to produce the target offering. Evaluation and clarification of business case and priorities for sequencing the work with different partners to deliver the solutions. Concluded with senior management review and commitment to pursue the prioritized solution development plan.
Value: Increased appeal of vendor’s portfolio to customers due to increased ease of deployment and increased utility in emerging cloud services offerings. Shortened time to revenue for the vendor’s portfolio. Strengthening of vendor’s position with key customer groups because of closer connection to the customers’ service innovation and deployment plans. Overall strengthened competitive position.
Case: Plan for Seamless Access to Cloud-based Services for Mobile Data Users
Client: Tier 1 SP
Problem: Employees of SP’s business customers were increasingly embracing smartphones and tablets as part of the BYOD sea change. SP needed to create offerings to allow mobile business customers to access hosted IT and application services the same as if they were ‘inside’ a conventional managed service or risk losing the business users to over-the-top SPs.
Work performed: Scope of mobile access environments including 3G, 4G and WiFi were examined. Requirements for authentication, network access/integration, and application/IT service integration were defined. Enhancements to base platforms for integration with SP’s service catalog and OSS/BSS infrastructures were defined. Plans for internal and market introduction testing phases were developed. Initial round of service positioning and market engagement materials was created with SP to bring the new integrated service to market.
Value: Path to engaging leading edge business customers in cloud-based hosted services for their increasingly mobile users was created. SP’s customer relationships were enriched and expanded. Appeal of SP to customer base was strengthened. Additional revenue streams for SP were created.
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