Public Cloud and Managed Communications Services: Right Time, Right Place?

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1 : Right Time, Right Place? Market Advisory Report Ashok Kumar Director, Custom Research December, 2013 Current Analysis ( Washington, D.C. Paris, France Phone: ; Toll free: Phone: +33 (0) Current Analysis, Inc. All rights reserved

2 Introduction Public cloud and managed communications services have been increasing in popularity over the past 24 months as a solution to the growing complexity of IT applications and growing cost pressures in IT departments. This Advisory Report reviews the market trends and driving forces for communications related public cloud and managed services. Enterprise Communications Management Challenges Managing enterprise communications infrastructure today is a balancing act. It has become a daily challenge for IT managers to keep systems operating efficiently while adding new applications and systems. Our research with IT professionals shows that they are facing increased pressure to meet objectives that are requested by the business, but which generally require increased investment and attention, even though IT teams are working with the same or only slightly increased resources. Some key pressure points IT professionals struggle with today are: Enabling business initiatives and competitiveness with IT resources Driving improved return on IT investment and assets Managing a widening base of increasingly complex IT applications Maintaining and improving service quality Complying with regulatory and security compliance mandates Enabling an increasingly mobile workforce Achieving agility in business and in IT Within this context, cloud-based and managed communications services may present a number of advantages for IT teams, at least in theory. Recent developments have created a wealth of new cloudbased offerings, which target the same or similar use cases that managed communications and IT services have targeted: off-loading IT teams from the day-to-day management of IT infrastructure employed by the business. For example, advances in virtualization, automation and orchestration are making cloud-based services more reliable and cost-effective. Meanwhile, the increasing availability of network connectivity and bandwidth helps facilitate the rollout and operation of new types of cloud and managed services. Service providers business models have also matured over the past 18 months, leveraging experience gained in early days of cloud services to create cloud offerings that deliver more effectively against enterprise expectations. Solutions in the market are starting to integrate better security capabilities, a key concern for many enterprises before moving workloads into the cloud. Another area of progress is the improved delivery methods for communications solutions. All of these trends are converging to drive increased interest in cloud and managed services, as shown in Figure 1 below. Europe: +33 (0)

3 Figure 1: Cloud and Managed Services Drivers Given these trends, the question for IT managers is of whether and how they want to leverage managed and public cloud services. There can be good reasons to employ these services, and good reasons why IT managers should avoid either approach. Following are some of the advantages and drawbacks of each approach. For any desired communications function point (e.g., voice communication, data networks, business video, collaboration platforms, contact centers, etc.) IT managers have more choices now regarding whether to: a. Own, operate, and manage their own on-site communications systems b. Outsource their communications infrastructure, either via traditional infrastructure outsourcing arrangements or through a number of hosted and public cloud-based services c. Employ communications managed services, a hybrid approach in which a third party manages customer owned premises equipment either on-site or in a data center. In a managed services model the enterprise s communications assets might be located on the customer premises and owned by the customer or located off-site in a data center and owned by the customer, and in both cases are managed and maintained by a third party. Outsourcing services are customized solutions designed to meet clients requirements to manage complex, large, and/or multivendor environments. In this model the communications assets might be on-premises at the customer site; but owned, managed, and maintained by a third-party outsourcing services supplier. In a cloudbased model the communications assets are owned and managed and hosted by a cloud provider, with services delivered on a pay-as-you-go basis. Cloud-based delivery models include private (dedicated) cloud solutions, or public (shared multitenant). Hybrid approaches are also possible, delivering applications based on some application infrastructure that is located on the customer premises and some infrastructure the cloud. Europe: +33 (0)

4 The right choice is not necessarily the same for all communications infrastructure domains. There are advantages and disadvantages to each approach, as outlined in Figure 2. With time at a premium, IT managers need to determine how best to optimize their staff s time in the delivery of communications infrastructure and services to the business. Figure 2: Communications infrastructure management options The managed services models may be applied to either computing infrastructure, communications infrastructure, or both. Managed services offerings range from pre-packaged offerings aimed at horizontal, generic workloads such as hosted voice communications or the remote management of customer-premises network equipment, to customized engagements for the management of complex global networking environments. Managed services can also include other IT technology areas such as managed security services (including bring-your-own-device (BYOD), managed network services, managed office automation and software services, managed data database services and other areas of enterprise resources, inventory management, etc. This paper will explore recent trends in managed services related to enterprise communications which we call communications managed services. Market Drivers - Near Term and Long Term One of the key market drivers for the growth of public cloud and managed services in the near term is the unstable economic outlook, one impact of which has been workforce reductions and/or hiring freezes within IT departments. As mentioned earlier, there is cost pressure on the IT organizations to sweat their invested assets longer. Mergers among enterprises are resulting in a growing need for IT teams to manage disparate and heterogeneous communications solutions from different vendors. At same time, there is also market consolidation occurring among network equipment vendors and service providers. There have been instances of vendors exiting the industry, leaving enterprise users Europe: +33 (0)

5 stranded with an installed base of communications assets, which might still have product life left or has not been depreciated fully. All of these factors are creating near-term need for the enterprises to look to the outside of their IT organizations for help in managing disparate collections of communications resources. In the longer term, growing complexity of IT and communications applications is making the job of managing applications more difficult for IT teams. In certain vertical market sectors such as financial services and healthcare, regulations dictate control and audit of enterprise IT assets. Many managed services providers have extensive experience meeting these types of requirements, and can lend their assistance to enterprises. Another long-term driver for managed services is the operational efficiency they can bring to managing IT infrastructure which in many cases translates into positive results such as increased uptime, higher performance, and more cost-effective delivery of IT resources. Market Opportunity Review In a survey of 550 enterprise IT decision makers across North America and Europe conducted in 2012, Current Analysis observed that many enterprises expect to migrate rapidly to cloud services over the next 24 months. The survey respondents had managerial responsibility for the strategic direction of IT policy and/or selection of IT suppliers in their organizations. By the end of 2014, according to the survey, 28% of enterprises plan to deliver over 20% of their overall IT application burden via a cloud architecture. The planned adoption of cloud services was particularly high among government organizations, with almost half of the organizations planning to deliver over 20% of their overall IT workloads via cloud architectures. This is driven in part by the U.S. government s CloudFirst mandate. Other sectors also are planning strong adoption of cloud. More than a third of the organizations in the communications & utilities (37%) and transportation & distribution (38%) sectors plan to use cloud services for more than 20% of their workloads by yearend Figure 3 details the survey results on an industry by industry basis. Europe: +33 (0)

6 Figure 3: Cloud adoption plans by industry sector Percent of Companies with Greater than 20% of IT Needs Met Via Cloud In another enterprise adoption survey on the use of various collaboration technologies, Current Analysis found that the most common collaboration applications currently delivered via the cloud are and enterprise applications (such as customer relationship management, sales force automation, enterprise resource planning, etc.). Enterprises near-term procurement plans for cloud favor , unified communications (UC), and on-demand, cloud-based storage. Figure 4 provides a view of enterprises current and planned adoption of various cloud-based applications based on Current Analysis 2012 Collaboration Research Compilation. Europe: +33 (0)

7 Figure 4: Most common application deployments for cloud: current and planned Industry best practice is to select the workloads to be moved to public cloud and managed services on a domain by domain basis. One of the domains that is expected to see the quickest move to the cloud in the coming years is UC. In fact, self-management of premises-based UC and collaboration infrastructure is the preferred deployment model for less than 20% of the respondents in the collaboration survey, as shown in Figure 5. Figure 5: Enterprises preferred deployment models for UC & Collaboration Europe: +33 (0)

8 Our collaboration survey also showed that enterprises frequently reach out to vendors for assistance with various other training and support requirements associated with their deployment of their communications and collaboration environment, as shown in Figure 6. These kinds of professional services may be used to augment the deployment process or ongoing operation of communications networks and services, and are often a component of managed services relationships. As a result, the quality of a provider s professional services capabilities can be a selection factor for enterprises when it comes time to choose a vendor. Figure 6: Professional services used in UC&C deployments Key Buying Criteria The importance of different buying criteria for public cloud and managed services can vary by the type of business, applications targeted, workforce, and business locations of the enterprise customer. The IT staff s relative skill level and familiarity with the communications products in the environment to be managed also comes into play. Obviously, the financial terms of a services deal can be a prime consideration, although not the only one since there are wide variations in capability among vendors supplying public cloud and managed services. IT managers considering using public cloud or managed services first need to determine which factors are most important to them. These factors will likely differ for different communications domains (e.g., voice, data, contact center, video, etc.). Following is a list of criteria that can be useful in Europe: +33 (0)

9 differentiating among the capabilities of public cloud and managed services vendors under consideration: Ability to integrate customer s existing communications solutions and infrastructure Demonstrated TCO improvement from similar use cases (domain-level & engagement type) Modular service offerings with tiered service levels Capability and track record of managing multi-vendor environments and expertise Maturity of the vendor s customer management processes and service management Standardized processes used in service delivery, such as IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) conformance for release management, upgrades, capacity management, etc. Performance metrics as measured by SLA commitments, variances, and penalties Single points of contact, accountability & well established procedures for escalation Platform used to monitor and manage the customer s communications environment Capabilities of the service provider s customer portal across engagement lifecycle Regional and local support capabilities and resources Geographic reach, including in-region language support As IT management challenges continue to mount, public cloud and managed services solutions can be attractive solutions for enterprises to consider as a way to keep the lights on in their enterprise communications domains, while potentially also increasing efficiency. These solutions can help IT teams to address the growing complexity of today s increasingly multi-vendor communications systems and environments, providing efficient, standardized delivery processes. Financially, many organizations will appreciate the ability to pay as you go, often a component of public cloud, managed services, and outsourcing propositions. Given these trends it is not surprising that our research shows a growing number of enterprises are becoming comfortable with communications-oriented public cloud and managed services and expect to employ one or both or hybrid variations of these models in the coming 24 months. As they prepare for these evolutions, it is important that the enterprise keep both the short-term as well as the longterm needs of the organization in mind. Operational efficiency in IT cannot be achieved overnight, so enterprises should evaluate potential partners abilities to create and then deliver continuous improvements to the performance, quality, and cost-effectiveness of enterprise communications infrastructure. Europe: +33 (0)

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