We spend quite a bit of time on MSPmentor covering small but fast-growing software companies that cater to the managed services market. But occasionally an industry titan will catch our attention. A case in point: IBM made a key move this week, and it involved small and midsized communication service providers (CSPs). Does this mean the Big 4 systems management companies (BMC, CA, HP, IBM) are finally waking up to managed services? Here's some perspective and speculation.
First, the facts: Big Blue has announced a partnership with generationE Technologies. It involves a software and services bundle designed to help CSPs monitor their networks and mitigate disruptive network outages.
The bundle combines IBM Tivoli Netcool telecom network monitoring software with implementation services provided by generationE. According to an IBM press release, the effort:
"provides a comprehensive view of the network, consolidating and prioritizing networks alerts, which helps prevent network outages."For generationE's part, they bill themselves as leading experts on Tivoli, with high-level accreditations in the software worldwide.
Where's The Big Four?IBM's CSP move sparks a bigger question: Are Big 4 systems management companies -- BMC, CA, HP, IBM -- finally going to make aggressive moves into the managed services market? Or are their enterprise management platforms too complex for most MSPs?
We don't have any firm immediate answers. But for the most part it seems like smaller, up-and-coming RMM (remote monitoring and management) companies are finding ways to displace the Big 4 in some enterprise accounts. Just follow Nimsoft CEO Gary Read's blog/claims on the subject and you'll get a taste for what's apparently going on. And in some market sectors, open source companies like GroundWork have been causing the Big Four more headaches.
Still, we do owe the Big Four equal time. And in 2010 we'll try to do a better job covering their businesses and strategic moves.
IBM and CSPsNow, back to the story at hand: IBM's support of CSPs. For those not in the know, CSPs provide all kinds of managed telecom services: they can handle anything from digital TV to internet telephony to broadband Internet. In that market, loss of service often means loss of customer, since no one's going to use a telephone that only sometimes works.
Scott Sobers, program director for the communications industry, Tivoli Software, IBM, offered this prepared statement:
“This new bundle offered with generationE Technologies will help small to mid-size CSPs become more competitive and profitable by recognizing short-term efficiencies, managing service quality, and launching new services faster to market.”It's easy to see why IBM is making this move now. As smaller CSPs start to move into territory previously ruled by big telecom providers, they're going to need to offer bulletproof managed VoIP services.
Additional reporting and analysis by Joe Panettieri