Cloud services are everywhere and the notion of “putting it in the cloud” has become an easy answer for sales people and service providers alike when asked how best to offer critical applications and data to customers and increase revenue. But there is nothing easy about the cloud. It’s not easy for operators, it’s not easy for IT, and it’s not easy for customers. The promise of cloud is supposed to be simplicity. No ownership concerns, no licensing issues, no maintenance headaches – cloud services are supposed to be as pleasant as the white puffy variety that we see floating by on a summer day. But we’re not there yet. One challenge that operators face when deploying platforms on which to build and deliver cloud services is that each instance often includes its own product catalog, creating a cloud silo that flies in the face of the rationalization of OSS/BSS solutions and data that has been underway for the past 10 years.
For operators wanting to deliver cloud services to businesses and consumers, a multi-tenant catalog-driven architecture based on integrated product, service, and resource catalogs makes fulfillment, assurance, and billing more reliable and accurate. However when implementing cloud hosting platforms, they are being assaulted by proprietary cloud product catalogs that are proving to be independent, inconsistent, and incomplete. Many operators have completed the arduous task of consolidating product, service, and resource catalogs from multiple sales channels, services, and lines of business only to be presented with yet another incompatible catalog silo for cloud offerings. While each cloud customer may require a catalog node for its unique configuration, operators would benefit from federation of that catalog into an existing centralized catalog environment rather than isolating each new cloud silo. Federation of a cloud catalog node into a centralized catalog stack provides users with individual catalog support while maintaining alignment with the core.
As the cloud becomes an attractive alternative for applications of all sorts, not just desktop applications but mission-critical OSS/BSS and business applications, the downside is that without a centralized product catalog we don’t really know what’s out there or how it’s being used. Before anyone is connected to a public or private cloud, service providers need to implement a cohesive approach to the definition and management of the applications and data made available to each user. Each user request for access to an individual cloud or application is an order that likely requires more information and capability than is included in a stand-alone cloud catalog.
Do It For Your Customers
A centralized product catalog, integrated with customer data that coordinates the access of every user in the same way using the same data creates efficiency and reliability while minimizing risk and eliminating customer confusion. Facing the customer there is a need for a consistent approach to cloud services that creates the foundation for a seamless and satisfying customer experience. Integrating cloud offerings into a centralized product, service, and resource catalog ensures reliable access to critical applications by any user and the retirement of services no longer in use.
There are a lot of good reasons to insist on the federation of cloud catalogs into existing product catalogs, but the most compelling is that we really don’t want to go through this silo-thing again.