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Bell Canada Pioneers Cloud Service Brokerage

Brokering is one of the oldest fundamental models of business

Earlier today I interviewed hot Cloud venture Appdirect, a company that offers a white label platform for implementing ‘Cloud Service Brokering’.

This is one of the headline R&I focus areas for our road map.

On the back of a $3.25m VC deal last year, Appdirect is one of a number of pioneers in this super hot Cloud field, signing clients like Bell Canada, Deutsche Telecom, Sasktel and others, and as such has been suitably recognized by Gartner.

Check out the uber-cool Bell app marketplace here, and for Sasktel theirs is here.

Cloud Service Brokers

Brokering is one of the oldest fundamental models of business and so it’s logical it can be applied to Cloud too. Like any broker they aggregate services from multiple suppliers, in this case SaaS (Software as a Service) apps, like for CRM or Constant Contact for email marketing, and help companies manage the complexities of increasing use of many of these different tools.

This includes features like single sign-on (eliminating the need to have duplicated username & password process for each one), as well as associated administration and billing. For example if a user leaves the company it’s a pain to have to go through each one and remove them. An AppsDirect market builds in this kind of process automation.

The stats they told me about blew my mind and also explain the size of the problem statement they are addressing:

  • The number of SaaS apps they’re counting grew from 20 odds in 2009, to 100 in 2011 to 3,000+ in 2012
  • Gartner predicts an overall Cloud market of $177 billion by 2015, of which 20% will be delivered through CSBs

In addition to the volume of apps growth they’re also seeing an increase in the types of apps available via SaaS as well as also growth in the number of SaaS apps that small businesses are starting to use.

Given this dynamic telcos are the ideal candidates to act as the broker. They already provide small businesses with the building blocks of broadband and telephony services, so adding apps to the mix is a natural evolution, and this is the strategy Bell and others are pursuing.

As one of the first customers of AppDirect Bell are demonstrating global leadership in the Cloud field. Btw the AppDirect team themselves are Canadians but sadly shining a light back on the innovation gap issue again, they like others have moved to the USA to be able to drive this kind of tech innovation.

Cloud Innovation Platform

What was particularly interesting was that the CSB platform can also be used by the telco to automate provisioning and billing of their own existing products too, right through to core telephony. It can also be used by ISVs to enable innovative software marketplaces for extending their product too, integrating other apps and modules.

Think communities like the Apple apps store and you’re touching on where this could go. Appdirect customers in this area include Appcelerator, demonstrating just how much of an innovation-enabler this type of platform is… hint hint RIM.

Other key areas where there will be big growth in this trend include within the enterprise, as IT departments start to give up hugging servers and instead become internal ITaaS providers, and like we will be covering on our upcoming GovCloud 2.0 webinar, government agencies selling to other agencies.

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