IBM: Can New Network Innovation Centers Drive Operator Adoption of SDN, Virtualization and Analytics-Driven Automation?

Ron Westfall
Ron Westfall

Summary Bullets:

• IBM unveiled the opening of two new Network Innovation Centers in Nice, France and Dallas, Texas, designed for operators and large enterprises to test SDN, virtualization and analytics-driven automation technologies for easing adoption of cloud models.

• After recent restructurings reduced its telco portfolio assets, IBM faces channel challenges in convincing operators that its innovation centers will prove essential in testing the orchestration and automation between their various IT systems and network infrastructure platforms.

IBM launched two new Network Innovation Centers, designed to address operator and large enterprise testing of SDN, virtualization and analytics-driven automation technologies, to ease the adoption of cloud models for driving their IT and network transformation objectives. Lab participants can vet solutions for capabilities such as automated and dynamic network resource management in support of burgeoning data applications such as Internet of Things (IoT), online transactions, social media, and mobile apps.

IBM must contend with a wide range of testing center alternatives in persuading operators and large enterprises to use its Network Innovation Centers. How can IBM convince operators in particular to entrust testing of their core IT and network transformation technologies with IBM facilities?

Test Partner Credibility: To stimulate potential operator interest in testing at its Network Innovation Centers, IBM has already enlisted a who’s who of high-profile IT and network suppliers, including Brocade, Cisco, Citrix, Juniper, Riverbed and VMWare, to bolster interoperability testing credentials. This range of test partners can assuage operator concerns that using IBM labs can streamline the rigors of multivendor testing of demanding interworking, orchestration-driving technologies like SDN and virtualization.

Test Center Flexibility: Operators have the option to access the test center facilities on site or remotely, easing network and IT resource coordination for testing. Moreover, testers can choose to bridge the capabilities of the two centers to streamline the design of custom solutions predicated on their specific network environment needs.As IBM looks to attract operators and enterprises to use its Network Innovation Centers for IT and network transformation testing, what steps can it take to improve its testing proposition?:

Diversify Testing Partners: IBM needs to promote the inclusion of more service enablement and mobile ecosystem partners to advance the testing and interworking range of its new Centers. On the mobile side this would include mobile device suppliers such as Apple and Samsung as well as OS suppliers such as Google to ensure cloud models better support mobile device and mobile OS integration for SDN, virtualization and automation requirements. Likewise, including OSS/BSS suppliers, such as NetCracker and Amdocs, could boost operator confidence in using IBM as the equivalent of a neutral, “Switzerland” test center for their core IT and network transformation needs.

Where is NFV?: Presumably the testing of virtualization applications extends to standardized ETSI-backed NFV implementations, so it remains vexing that IBM did not explicitly tout NFV as a complement to SDN and analytics-driven automation testing. Both operators and enterprises alike would almost certainly drive this requirement, and the sooner IBM addresses NFV-specific test resources, the more readily its Network Innovation Centers would appeal to operator IT and network transformation and automation ambitions.

Overall IBM can leverage the opening of its two new Network Innovation Centers to expand its influence in driving operator adoption of SDN, virtualization and analytics-driven automation for cloud implementation due in large part to its vast ongoing influence in the enterprise channels. As a result, the new test facilities can only likely help re-energize IBM’s channel prospects with operators.

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