IBM Think 2021 Highlights Its Traction with Partners to Develop Hybrid Cloud and Automation Capabilities

SiowMengSoh
S. Soh

Summary Bullets:

  • Partners are warming up to IBM as it invests heavily in growing the partner ecosystem and leveling the playing field for managed services, and Kyndryl will soon become a separate business.
  • Service providers are building more strategic alliances with IBM, and one of the potential areas for collaboration is automation including AIOps.

At the recent IBM Think 2021 event, the company highlighted progress it has made in helping partners succeed. After announcing the spinoff of its managed infrastructure business in 2020, IBM has stepped up its efforts to drive partner success, including an investment of USD 1 billion in its partner ecosystem (please see “IBM Pivots Toward Partner Ecosystem for Its Go-to-Market Strategy,” February 26, 2021).  In April 2021, IBM announced its independent managed infrastructure services business would be named ‘Kyndryl.’  ‘Kyn’ has its origin in the word ‘kinship,’ referencing the belief that relationships with people – employees, customers, and partners – are at the center of the strategy. ‘Dryl’ is meant to suggest the word ‘tendril,’ which IBM says brings “to mind new growth.” With the separation of Kyndryl from IBM expected by the end of 2021, it will level the playing field for IBM’s partners to compete for managed services. Continue reading “IBM Think 2021 Highlights Its Traction with Partners to Develop Hybrid Cloud and Automation Capabilities”

IBM Pivots Toward Partner Ecosystem for Its Go-to-Market Strategy

S. Soh

Summary Bullets:

  • IBM has made a major change to its go-to-market strategy, focusing on developing its partner ecosystem and deploying its direct sales resources to engage the largest accounts looking for integrated solutions from IBM. 
  • This move is likely to result in more partners building specialization and expertise around IBM solutions. 

IBM held its Think Summit Australia & New Zealand in February 2021.  While hybrid cloud, AI, and digital transformation remained the key themes, the company also shed some light on the changes to its go-to-market strategy, particularly its investment in developing the partner ecosystem known as PartnerWorld.  IBM recently announced an investment of USD 1 billion in its partner ecosystem, with the aim of driving more sales through channel partners.  The investment is part of IBM’s new go-to-market strategy.  The company is simplifying its sales model by reducing the number of customer groups from 50 to just two.  IBM direct sales will utilize the IBM Garage to engage top-tier customers.  The rest of the IBM client base will be served by channel partners, which means significant opportunities for these partners. Continue reading “IBM Pivots Toward Partner Ecosystem for Its Go-to-Market Strategy”

Amazon Connect to Become Mainstream as Customers Move Contact Centers to the Cloud and Leverage AI/ML for Automation

S. Soh

Summary Bullets:

• Five new capabilities for Amazon Connect were announced at re:Invent 2020 that will allow agents and supervisors to be more efficient and effective.

• As enterprises move their contact center to the cloud, they should look at adding artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities to drive better customer experience.

Since the launch of Amazon Connect in 2017, AWS’ contact center solution has made significant progress and it is now a serious contender in the enterprise segment. The adoption will continue to accelerate as the pandemic drags on and companies move workloads more quickly to the cloud. This trend will benefit all contact center vendors, not just AWS, since most vendors have a cloud-based option to help customers make the transition at their own pace. However, AWS’ strengths lie within its operational scale and its partner ecosystem. More crucially, the hyperscale cloud provider is rapidly adding its AI and ML technologies to further strengthen the appeal of Amazon Connect. Continue reading “Amazon Connect to Become Mainstream as Customers Move Contact Centers to the Cloud and Leverage AI/ML for Automation”

NCS Has Moved Out of Singtel Group Enterprise and Doubled Down on Digital Services

S. Soh

Summary Bullets:

  • NCS is investing in digital services, expanding its operations in China and Australia, and targeting key industry verticals.
  • NCS has gained greater autonomy moving out of Singtel Group Enterprise, to strengthen its regional capabilities in delivering digital solutions.

NCS, formerly National Computer Systems, was founded in 1981 to support the Singapore government’s initiatives related to IT implementation. It was acquired by Singtel in 1997, and it remains a key business within Singtel, delivering ICT solutions for enterprise customers both in Singapore and across Asia. According to Singtel, NCS has delivered revenue growth for seven years running. However, most of the business is generated in Singapore and especially within the public sector. NCS operated as a business unit within Singtel Group Enterprise for several years, but it has never been fully integrated with Singtel. The company has retained its brand name, and it has different capabilities than Singtel (e.g., consulting, business application services, AI, and automation) as well as a different business model (e.g., project-based, industry-focused, and bespoke solutions). Continue reading “NCS Has Moved Out of Singtel Group Enterprise and Doubled Down on Digital Services”

Outlook for 5G-Enabled Enterprise Solutions in 2021: The Potential Telco Game Plans

S. Soh

Summary Bullets:

  • While 5G-enabled enterprise solutions offer new revenue streams for telecom operators, they need new capabilities to develop and sell the full solutions, not just the carriage component.
  • Telecom operators will look to partnerships and/or acquisitions to gain the necessary competence to help customers in key industry verticals to transform their business operations.

Telecommunications companies (telcos) are at a crossroads as they rollout 5G and looking at how to monetize this investment. While they can continue to focus on selling carriage services, with the saturation of mobile subscription and competitive pressure, the hope of increasing ARPU from 5G connectivity remains elusive. Instead, many telcos are looking to enterprise solutions as a way to open up new revenue streams, leveraging 5G’s unique capabilities around ultra-low latency, reliability, and significantly higher throughput. Some will go even further and set new performance parameters with 5G. This shift inevitably involves moving into new territories for the telcos, including IoT, data analytics, cloud services, cybersecurity, etc., and bringing these capabilities together to solve business problems and prove outcomes. Emerging 5G enterprise solutions also tend to target specific use cases across various industries (e.g., smart factory, port automation, and connected utilities). Most enterprises do not know how 5G can help to transform their business and they rely on their technology partners to advise and show them the possibilities. Continue reading “Outlook for 5G-Enabled Enterprise Solutions in 2021: The Potential Telco Game Plans”

SD-WAN Is Gaining Momentum in Australia, but Do Enterprises Have a Long-Term Network Strategy?

S. Soh

Summary Bullets:

  • SD-WAN is gaining traction in Australia with nearly 60% of enterprises already implementing the technology.
  • Enterprise customers need to consider their long-term network strategy to cope with the changing IT workloads beyond a standalone SD-WAN solution.

The SD-WAN technology has gained attention among Australian IT buyers and it has changed the WAN market significantly. Based on GlobalData’s research, nearly 60% of enterprises (businesses with more than 200 employees) have already deployed SD-WAN, and nearly one in three of those businesses are considering implementing it in the next 12 months. SD-WAN has taken off quicker in Australia than some other markets partly due to the migration of last-mile access to the NBN, which has resulted in several service providers (e.g., Macquarie Telecom and Aussie Broadband) offering SD-WAN with NBN as an alternative to MPLS-based IP VPN. 5G will accelerate this trend. Continue reading “SD-WAN Is Gaining Momentum in Australia, but Do Enterprises Have a Long-Term Network Strategy?”

IBM Think Digital 2020: Helping Telecom Providers to Deploy Edge Computing for 5G

S. Soh

Summary Bullets:

• IBM is extending its cloud capabilities to the edge and it is partnering with telcos to deploy cloud services at 5G-enabled edge nodes and simplify the management.

• IBM and other hyperscalers are developing ecosystems of partners including telecom providers to deliver enhanced networking solutions for enterprises as they accelerate the adoption of cloud services.

IBM has announced new services to help enterprises and telecommunications companies implement edge computing for 5G; leveraging Red Hat OpenStack and OpenShift. Firstly, IBM Edge Application Manager enables customers to manage AI, analytics and IoT workloads at scale – up to 10,000 edge nodes simultaneously by a single administrator. IBM Telco Network Cloud Manager enables automation capabilities to orchestrate virtual and container network functions in minutes. The company has also extended a portfolio of edge-enabled applications and services to the edge to give customers a range of AI and cognitive capabilities. These include IBM Production Optimization, IBM Connected Manufacturing, IBM Asset Optimization, IBM Maximo Worker Insights, and IBM Visual Inspector. Continue reading “IBM Think Digital 2020: Helping Telecom Providers to Deploy Edge Computing for 5G”

5G Will Play a Key Role in Economic Recovery but Spectrum Availability is Key

S. Soh

Summary Bullets:

• 5G and the ecosystem around it will be a major contributor to the economy and facilitate economic recovery post-COVID.

• Regulators need to provide greater certainty on spectrum availability to allow operators to plan their investment and activities to get new 5G services to the market in a timely manner.

2020 is expected to be the year of 5G. With leading carriers already launched 5G in 2019, the rollout of 5G was ramping up and new 5G-ready devices were in the product pipelines of major manufacturers. However, 5G’s momentum, like many other segments of the economy, has been impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic. One of the key challenges for mobile operators is the availability of 5G spectrum. Mobile operators’ 5G rollout plans are often closely linked to the spectrum availability made by regulators. Unfortunately, the virus outbreak has led to some regulators putting planned spectrum allocations/auctions on hold due to health and financial reasons. Meantime, operators are also seeing a significant spike in mobile data services over the last two months. For example, in Spain, the telecom operators saw a 40 percent increase in IP traffic, a 25 percent increase in mobile data, and a five-fold increase in OTT messaging traffic (e.g., WhatsApp). Continue reading “5G Will Play a Key Role in Economic Recovery but Spectrum Availability is Key”

Vodafone Business Provides a Glimpse of the Future of Networking

S. Soh

Summary Bullets:

• Vodafone is developing an intent-based infrastructure, which is an automated platform to deliver desired business outcomes.

• Enterprise customers should consider the trends related to the evolution of network solutions and include the evaluation of digital platforms and roadmap when sourcing a new WAN supplier.

Vodafone has articulated and shown how the right digital platforms and software-defined capabilities can enable the network of the future. As enterprises pursue digital transformation, they often think cloud first before worrying about whether the network can support the major shift in workloads. To support a hybrid, multi-cloud environment, the network needs to be flexible to deliver the right performance for different applications, in a dynamic fashion. And yet, customers often do not have full visibility into how their network and applications are performing. It can also be problematic to determine network issues without the tools that provide end-to-end visibility. This will likely get more complex when enterprises begin to adopt 5G, edge computing, and IoT. Continue reading “Vodafone Business Provides a Glimpse of the Future of Networking”

Alibaba Cloud Adds an Application PaaS Solution via the Terminus Acquisition

S. Soh

Summary Bullets:

  • The acquisition of Terminus has given Alibaba Cloud an attractive application PaaS solution that it can take to market and help to boost cloud adoption in China.
  • The Terminus PaaS is evolving and it has a strong roadmap; the multi-cloud approach is a crucial factor when Alibaba Cloud extends the solution internationally.

Terminus and Its Application PaaS

Terminus is a Chinese software provider founded in 2012 with a strong focus on addressing the needs of retail, procurement, and the supply chain functions. The company was acquired by Alibaba, and its products are now offered based on Alibaba Cloud while retaining the Terminus product brand. The Terminus team remains intact and is driving product development, but tapping into Alibaba’s ecosystem, go-to-market machinery, and its infrastructure and technologies to accelerate business expansion. Continue reading “Alibaba Cloud Adds an Application PaaS Solution via the Terminus Acquisition”