Managed services: Beyond point solutions

Lauren Robinette, ACG Research
15 Feb 2011

The evolution of managed services has been rapid and the discussion on developing a successful managed services program no longer focuses on just point-product solution features and services for transport.

More than ever, carriers need to differentiate their managed services programs by offering not only world-class customer service, 7/24 support, proactive IT service delivery and the latest technological developments, but also develop a business model that incorporates partnerships that address end-customers' business processes rather than just their underlying technology or delivery systems.

The key to evolving a program is to understand how managed services can become a value proposition in relation to the evolution toward managed cloud-based offers. Companies generally start as server huggers, migrate to backup junkies (for redundancy in the cloud) and then quickly turn into cloud adopters because of the efficiencies and cost reductions, reliability and always-accessible applications.

Three steps

Server huggers refer to premise-type equipment where together the carrier and the enterprise manage the service. In this scenario the initial trust between the carrier and enterprise is tentative, so managed services tend to be simple, such as transport and access services to connect the server to IP networks.

The next step in moving to more robust cloud-based manage services is what we see as the first step in letting go of the on-premise device to becoming a "backup junkie," which encompasses a more complete line of managed services, usually an offering of a cloud-based or hosted backup of crucial server. The evaluation of the access to the backup as the source becomes a business evaluation.

Why do I need the staff, on-premise server and management, upgrades, cooling and power for this on-premise device when the backup is ready for access anywhere? Some aspects of this type of managed services option are driven by capacity issues, such as content of video or high traffic demands. In this scenario the enterprise cannot support the rapid growth so instead looks to cloud-based managed services to support the redundancy. The enterprise needs scalability offered through cloud-based managed services or virtual managed capacity. This generally leads to the discussion between the needs of the business and the services offered by a service provider.

The third and most sophisticated level of managed services is anytime cloud adoption, which deals with technologies, corporate time to revenue, and strategies that enable the business to be more effective. The cloud discussion revolves around utility-based products tied to a business value proposition.

To see how fast the carrier space has evolved you only have to look back 10 years. Then, 10% of global carriers had POP lines and 15% penetration in POP lines. Today, carriers have 70% penetration in the mobile market. This transition rate has introduced both opportunities and challenges.

From a carrier perspective, the complexity scale, connectivity and volume need to be addressed behind the scenes because end-users expect to have a reliable experience. However, many carriers have been left out of this value chain, for example, with companies such as YouTube and Skype, which have leveraged over-the-top type services.


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