IBM Cloud Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, William Schmarzo, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, IBM Cloud, Agile Computing, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Article

Self-Service and Managed Service Provider (MSP) Cloud Solutions

Self-service driving cloud solutions

Customer self-service is a theme that is spreading across a number of industries. As a result, numerous jobs, including those in IT, are changing or becoming obsolete, while industries are becoming more efficient. Cloud computing is a key technology enabler in making these changes possible. Last week I spoke at the IBM Edge 2013 MSP summit in Las Vegas, where self-service through automation was emphasized at a number of sessions, with the IBM PureSystems family of products as an enabler.

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are a segment of the IT ecosystem that needs to pay attention to this trend. It should be an important element that cannot be overlooked while developing their cloud strategy. Let's first look at some examples in various industries that are making headway with self-service:

  • Consumer IT: Internet users take it for granted that any help they need in utilizing products is obtained through a self-service online interface. For example, Facebook or Gmail do not provide phone support to non-paid end-users. Individuals, based on their expectations, set all configuration parameters. For example, you are responsible for privacy settings that Facebook then follows in matching appropriate information to accredited users.
  • Airlines: When a recent Delta flight I took landed late in Cincinnati, announcements encouraged passengers who could not make connections to use self service to re-book their tickets, e.g. scanning their boarding passes to re-print new itineraries. Delta recently allowed same-day bookings to be made online, a service that in the past was only available by phone. These help passengers enjoy a more pleasant experience while Delta saves costs.
  • Retail: Without interacting with any employees, you can order online or walk into any FedEx Office (formerly Kinko's) store and utilize print services with a credit card. While the costs at FedEx locations are higher for business cards compared to web-ordered cards, the convenience of immediate access draws a loyal set of customers. FedEx enjoys a healthy profit margin for such services.

When MSPs decide to deliver a service, they need to look for opportunities similar to those in the manufacturing industry that focuses on automation and process improvement. The maturity in manufacturing automation is so advanced that, while manufacturing capacity is returning to the United States, manufacturing jobs are not growing at the same pace. This is because fully automated facilities require fewer but more highly skilled labor resources. To build and deliver cloud solutions successfully, MSPs need to acquire or develop necessary skills.

When comparing self-service enablement in various industries, there are IT processes that can be automated to increase efficiencies. Ideally, the services would emulate processes that are already being used in consumer facing solutions, but MSPs can also look at cloud leaders for best practices. These are some examples:

1. Backup: The best example of how to deliver self-service is Dropbox. Installing the package is easy, and you can add multiple users for a Dropbox for Business account. With the end-user responsible for all management, Dropbox has to primarily focus on providing a reliable service and trusted security. Cloud backup service solutions play in a very competitive space, and self-service could be a unique differentiator for a MSP solution.

2. Infrastructure: Amazon is the gold standard of self-service in providing cloud resources. The user interface allows Amazon Web Service (AWS) customers complete tasks that remove the complexity of managing an IT environment. In addition to creating instances through a portal, Amazon has an interesting Platform as a Service solution called Elastic Beanstalk. It allows developers who deploy applications on AWS to set parameters driving automation of the infrastructure without having to write extensive code. Other infrastructure providers like Rackspace, Joyent and SoftLayer (planned to be acquired by IBM) are all in a race to enhance their self-service capabilities.

3. Software as a Service (SaaS): Since Electronic Health Records have been made mandatory by 2015, a number of solutions to help the medical industry have sprouted and gained a foothold in large establishments. However, new and progressive "born on the web" SaaS providers are making it very simple to register and start using their solutions. While the initial adoption was dominated by a few companies, several companies, like Practice Fusion and Kareo, are now delivering self-service solutions that help small medical practices match capabilities of larger medical groups at a much lower cost.

In any of the above examples, customers expect significant reliability from MSP solutions. To meet these needs, vendors like IBM and Oracle are providing integrated systems of compute, storage and network capabilities to help MSPs build differentiated cloud solutions. Simplified infrastructure is key to helping MSPs build self-service solutions that meet customer expectations of high availability and reliability.

With the increase in IT infrastructure needed to handle recent social, mobile and analytic trends, it will be difficult or impossible for traditional outsourcing/out-tasking to meet enterprise needs. The ratio of resources to the volume of IT services delivered through cloud solutions is very different from historic outsourcing contracts. The goal for MSPs will be to efficiently deliver self-service-based cloud solutions leveraging programmable infrastructures on an integrated stack. At the IBM Edge 2013 conference, the PureSystems family was well positioned to simplify the path of MSPs planning to deliver cloud, big data and analytics services to their customers.

This post was first published on Robustcloud.com. Republished with permission.

More Stories By Larry Carvalho

Larry Carvalho runs Robust Cloud LLC, an advisory services company helping various ecosystem players develop a strategy to take advantage of cloud computing. As the 2010-12 Instructor of Cloud Expo's popular Cloud Computing Bootcamp, he has already led the bootcamp in New York, Silicon Valley, and Prague, receiving strong positive feedback from attendees about the value gained at these events. Carvalho has facilitated all-day sessions at customer locations to set a clear roadmap and gain consensus among attendees on strategy and product direction. He has participated in multiple discussion panels focused on cloud computing trends at information technology events, and he has delivered all-day cloud computing training to customers in conjunction with CloudCamps. To date, his role has taken him to clients in three continents.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.
Poor data quality and analytics drive down business value. In fact, Gartner estimated that the average financial impact of poor data quality on organizations is $9.7 million per year. But bad data is much more than a cost center. By eroding trust in information, analytics and the business decisions based on these, it is a serious impediment to digital transformation.
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
Predicting the future has never been more challenging - not because of the lack of data but because of the flood of ungoverned and risk laden information. Microsoft states that 2.5 exabytes of data are created every day. Expectations and reliance on data are being pushed to the limits, as demands around hybrid options continue to grow.
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
As IoT continues to increase momentum, so does the associated risk. Secure Device Lifecycle Management (DLM) is ranked as one of the most important technology areas of IoT. Driving this trend is the realization that secure support for IoT devices provides companies the ability to deliver high-quality, reliable, secure offerings faster, create new revenue streams, and reduce support costs, all while building a competitive advantage in their markets. In this session, we will use customer use cases...
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
DevOpsSummit New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of bus...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, we provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading...
DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICOHOLDER named "Media Sponsor" of Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO. ICOHOLDER give you detailed information and help the community to invest in the trusty projects. Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO has opened its Call for Papers. The two-day event will present 20 top Blockchain experts. All speaking inquiries which covers the following information can be submitted by email to info@dxworldexpo.com. Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO also offers s...
DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
The IoT Will Grow: In what might be the most obvious prediction of the decade, the IoT will continue to expand next year, with more and more devices coming online every single day. What isn’t so obvious about this prediction: where that growth will occur. The retail, healthcare, and industrial/supply chain industries will likely see the greatest growth. Forrester Research has predicted the IoT will become “the backbone” of customer value as it continues to grow. It is no surprise that retail is ...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that "Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO" has announced that its Call for Papers is now open. The two-day event will present 20 top Blockchain experts. All speaking inquiries which covers the following information can be submitted by email to info@dxworldexpo.com. Financial enterprises in New York City, London, Singapore, and other world financial capitals are embracing a new generation of smart, automated FinTech that eliminates many cumbersome, slow, and expe...
Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo have announced the conference tracks for Cloud Expo 2018. Cloud Expo will be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, and November 6-8, 2018, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DX Expo within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive ov...