|Issue:||Europe I 2014|
|Topic:||Enterprise mobility services: Flexibility is the key to CSP success|
Pravin Mirchandani joined OneAccess as Chief Marketing Officer in May 2011, bringing with him more than 20 years’ experience in the Telecoms industry. Pravin has held key roles in Marketing, Product Development and Sales at major telecom equipment manufacturers and software vendors such as Bay Networks, Nortel, Orchestream and Codima Technologies. Most recently, Pravin was CEO at Syphan Technologies UK, an innovative organisation providing security services to Managed Service Providers (MSPs.)
Pravin is fluent in English, French and German and is a graduate of both the University of Edinburgh and the London School of Economics,
Enterprises today require a mix of access methods which enable employees to ‘roam’ between LTE, WiFi and VPN seamlessly in an all-IP WAN. This is feasible, using a centralised facility to manage the links between these access networks, via a multi-service access router, which is deployed at the edge of the network. Such WAN optimisation technologies distinguish between network and application performance issues and provide far greater visibility. The combinations of access technologies can vary widely between enterprises, and they require flexibility in their access equipment. Hence, a managed service with WAN optimisation and versatility will generate over time lower TCO than mere price reduction.
Pravin Mirchandani, CMO, OneAccess Networks
If communication service providers (CSPs) across Europe and beyond are to take advantage of the rapidly evolving market for enterprise mobility and, at the same time, satisfy their need to reduce TCO, they will need to rethink their approach to network access technologies.
The rampant adoption of mobile devices in the enterprise has driven up expectations for corporate mobility and fuelled global demand for hybrid IP WAN (Wide Area Network) designs. Businesses intent on enabling dispersed workers to access a hyper-connected, mobilized environment know that the successful implementation of, say, a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, or the deployment of a secure remote access VPN, can have an instant impact on operations and deliver a real competitive edge.
CSPs of all kinds should be taking steps now to strengthen and future-proof their mobile business network capabilities in order to deliver differentiated services in what is an increasingly crowded market place. The enterprise shift toward all-IP communications, both for general purpose data and for voice transportation, means that fixed and mobile operators must work harder to maintain the previously-undivided loyalties of enterprise customers, while providers of Cloud and other managed network services weigh in with their own propositions.
LTE has raised the stakes further. The dramatic increase in cellular network data transfer enabled by LTE has unlocked huge potential for the future development of enterprise mobility. When you factor in that a well configured LTE device can ‘roam’ seamlessly between cellular, WiFi and femtocell zones, connecting to whichever network infrastructure offers the strongest signal, and the opportunities for network managers and CSPs to optimize traffic throughput on a corporate WAN start to reveal themselves. A recent research report from Ovum’s ICT Enterprise Insights revealed that customer experience management will be a key CSP priority in 2014, with investment in OSS systems to support LTE implementations promising to play an important part.
As the number and variety of mobility options increase, so do the possibilities for different hybrid WAN designs. It will be CSPs that are capable of offering bespoke converged connectivity solutions, tailored to the individual needs of each enterprise, which stand to prosper the most. Gearing up to offer everything to everyone, however, is far easier said than done. Each network ‘endpoint’, such as a smartphone, a videoconference screen, or a notebook connected with an LTE dongle, will need to establish its own connection to the corporate network. If the CSP is to deliver an optimal connectivity experience and deliver on the terms of its SLA (Service Level Agreement), these connections, together with the data they produce and the applications they access, will need to be monitored, managed and prioritised according to the needs of the organisation.
As CSPs adapt their WAN infrastructures to serve this new all-IP converged fixed and mobile world, maintaining the necessary visibility over data flows on the WAN is growing increasingly difficult. Adding to this challenge, CSPs are also being asked to create bespoke solutions that blend public, private and hybrid Cloud models all in a single service contract. When a distributed enterprise, like a major hotel chain or a brand of fuel service stations, requests a single fixed and mobile managed service contract that will connect multiple sites all over the country, each with their own individual connectivity requirements, then the business of generating appropriate levels of performance visibility becomes a real technical challenge.
Putting these elements in place can be an expensive business for the CSP. For many across Europe, now is not the time for extravagant investment in new equipment. Telecom operators, particularly in Europe and the US, are working against a backdrop of falling revenues and network infrastructure obsolescence. They are also wrestling with huge year on year hikes in data volumes and fierce competition from a range of new service providers. Inevitably, these conditions have resulted in an inexorable drive to reduce TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) which has, in turn, become a governing force in networking equipment purchasing decisions. The trick, therefore, is for these players to reduce TCO and enhance their converged network capabilities and generate new revenues in the process. Mission impossible?
Thankfully not. Recent innovations in carrier-class enterprise access technologies can help CSPs deliver converged fixed and mobile solutions quickly, cost-effectively and at a price point that is attractive to enterprise customers. Deployed on the customers’ premises but managed centrally, these solutions also establish a platform through which revenue-generating services can be introduced, in line with the CSPs own commercial objectives and the varying appetites of customers.
Services that deliver visibility on the performance of critical applications on multiple WAN links can help the CSP monitor the quality of the end-user’s network experience, enabling action to be taken to resolve issues relating to the optimal delivery of data before they negatively impact on business process. By deploying network access equipment on the customer’s site, right at the edge of the network, the CSP can generate far greater network and application performance visibility. WAN optimisation technologies, when delivered as a managed service via a multi-service access router, enable CSPs to both identify and differentiate between network and application performance issues. This information arms them with actionable intelligence, enabling them to respond quickly to resolve a network problem, or to defend themselves (and their SLAs) against wrongful performance accusations leveled at their network.
Taking full advantage of these innovations will, however, require a subtle shift in the prevailing procurement policies of CSPs across Europe and beyond. With TCO reductions in mind, CSP procurement has focused on driving down the cost of equipment, installation, maintenance and upgrades, leading to the adoption of a ‘just enough’ approach to the componentry and functionality built into its network access equipment. However, in a converged fixed and mobile world, where the required combinations of access technologies can vary widely between customers, opting for flexibility and versatility in their access equipment will, over time, be a far greater reducer of TCO. By supporting a wide variety of access technologies in a single box, CSPs can reduce cost-per-unit through volume purchases and deploy the same units across multiple bespoke customer WANs, provisioning only the specific technologies and services needed by that customer. By adjusting their procurement policies to nudge value generation ahead of per-unit price, CSPs can reduce TCO, establish a channel through which they can profitably deliver voice and data services in a converged fixed and mobile network environment and also gear up to introduce new services as the market continues to develop.
By looking beyond the dominant players in the enterprise network access market and by thinking strategically about procurement, CSPs have an opportunity not only to capitalize on today’s demands for enterprise mobility, but also to ensure long-term competitiveness.