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As anyone who has worked closely with Service Providers would know, they are always under constant pressure to grow revenue by winning new customer applications, whilst simultaneously reducing service delivery costs and increasing customer satisfaction. Never easy!

In recent years, most Service Providers have already realized that sticking with traditional 3-tier infrastructure architectures will leave them at a competitive disadvantage. A more modern alternative has been to look at Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) to try to boost the profitability of existing services and/or launch new innovations and service offerings to the market. However, as is often the case, there are significant limitations with traditional HCI architectures that Service Providers are now acknowledging and addressing.

Nebulon smartInfrastructure is a new architectural approach that is a particularly valuable proposition for Service Providers. Nebulon can typically help to generate new revenue by delivering services 2x faster, increase profit margins with at least 33% reduction in costs, help reduce risks with centralized management, and improve customer satisfaction.

Already want to know more? To see how Nebulon can help you bring differentiated services to market, faster, and save you money, contact one of our team of expert Service Provider consultants directly.

The Hidden Costs of HCI for Service Providers

It is now well over 10 years since the concept of HCI came to market. The leading HCI vendors in the market today, Nutanix and VMware, now have relatively mature offerings. There is no doubt they offered advantages for a Service Provider business model over older, more traditional 3-tier or Converged architectures, but they have now shown to have significant and surprisingly similar architectural limitations. They have created application and hypervisor ‘lock-in’, are less efficient than first thought, create new and different performance challenges, and are complex to manage at a Service Provider scale.

  1. Limited new services opportunities
    To grow top line revenue, Service Providers need to offer the range of services their customers expect. The more innovative and differentiated, the better. Time to market is also key. Traditional HCI architectures limit opportunities for differentiated services and offer no opportunity to economically deliver services for bare-metal and native container-based applications.
  2. Service delivery cost pressures
    HCI is often sold on the promise of reducing service delivery costs by consolidating workloads onto server infrastructure. The hidden cost of this is that HCI architectural overheads typically consume 25% of server CPU, memory, and network resources. This means you need to buy at least 33% more servers, more expensive software licenses, more power, more cooling, and more data center space. In addition, you have to manage it all using multiple consoles, typically a different management instance for every site or cluster. This makes your HCI infrastructure both increasingly inefficient as you scale, and very complex to automate for optimized service delivery.
  3. Service providers: How to grow top line revenue and reduce customer churn, starting today
    Customer churn is a critical metric that all Service Providers track. An unhappy customer will always find a way to leave for a better level of service. The experience of public cloud services in recent years has ‘raised the bar’ when it comes to customer expectations. Today’s shared-resource HCI architectures are inherently unpredictable, making it almost impossible to deliver the predictable, dependable services needed to build trust and customer loyalty. Tedious and slow HCI software/firmware updates and maintenance (patching) take critical storage resources offline and may even place customer data at risk. And it gets continually worse as you scale. This could be fine for small enterprises, but not the best approach for growing Service Providers!

Why you need Smart[er] Infrastructure – 3 reasons it is better for Service Providers

Smart Infrastructure means Service Providers can build their businesses on the back of a self-service infrastructure managed as simply as the public cloud. Nebulon was founded to offer a new and differentiated architectural approach – server-embedded infrastructure software delivered as-a-service. This architecture provides the benefits of the public cloud in your data center. Deliver smart(er) services for any customer application – containerized, virtualized, or bare-metal.

Here are the top three reasons why Nebulon smartInfrastructure is a better choice of infrastructure for Service Providers vs a traditional HCI approach from Nutanix or VMware:

  1. Grow your revenues, faster
    Nebulon’s smartInfrastructure approach means you can focus on growing your service revenues, not managing infrastructures. Unique and patented capabilities like the ability to manage all your infrastructure securely from the cloud and remote boot drive management means you can deliver new services to market faster. Both hosted, and customer-owned infrastructure can be managed by a single management API in the cloud. You will also typically be able to provision new customer applications twice as fast, whether VM-based, Kubernetes or, with our open architecture, whatever opportunity comes next! You can even think about building new revenue streams, such as smarter Edge use-cases and services for those looking to re-patriate public cloud services.
  2. Increase profit margins
    Nebulon’s smartInfrastructure approach means you can buy 33% fewer servers for a given customer application, as no server resources are consumed by data or storage services. If you offer bare-metal Kubernetes-based services, you don’t need the hypervisor, meaning another 46% savings on top of that. This can apply to existing services, delivered at lower costs, as well as new services to expand your addressable market.Infrastructure acquisition cost savings are important, but there are also other ways smartInfrastructure will help boost your profitability. Our AI-assisted, secure cloud control plane will reduce your operational costs as you’ll spend zero time with slow and tedious on-prem management consoles. You will need fewer building blocks and less data center space as you will be monetizing all of your server resources.Our innovative SaaS subscription-based pricing models allow you to better match infrastructure investments to incoming customer revenues. You only need to turn on infrastructure when you need it – start small, with individual node increments. The pricing model is also ‘all-inclusive,’ with no hidden costs, training, or on-prem management infrastructure required. This is, by design, a Service Provider friendly approach!
  3. Better customer satisfaction
    Nebulon’s smartInfrastructure uses cloud-managed IoT endpoints, that we call SPUs (Services Processing Units), embedded in your choice of application server from Lenovo, HPE, Supermicro, or Dell. The data-plane runs entirely on the programmable IoT endpoint in the form of an embedded PCIe adapter that replaces the RAID, FC and/or iSCSI HBA’s that typically come in your OEM servers. This innovative architectural approach, combined with the Nebulon ON cloud control plane, provides vastly more predictable service delivery, with better control and resilience. New features and updates can be rolled out to all your sites and customers, consistently from the cloud. You can remove maintenance windows entirely! With predictive maintenance, automated troubleshooting, and prevention, you can also identify, address and fix potential security risks 10x faster, before your customers (or PR department) are impacted. Isolated fault domains provide the stability of 3-tier architectures, at ‘better-than-HCI‘ cost points.

In summary, you might feel happy with your 3-tier, Converged or Hyper-Converged Infrastructure choice today. However, now is the time to seriously consider what comes next if you are going to continue to win more customer applications, optimize your operations, and increase customer satisfaction.

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John Rollason

Revenue Marketing Manager

Prior to joining Nebulon, John led the transformation to successfully build NetApp's digitally-driven, Revenue Marketing team. He was responsible for driving all global digital marketing programs and managed a team of 100+ marketers, across 17 global locations. Previous roles at NetApp included leading marketing across Europe, Middle East and Africa, and being responsible for NetApp’s global Cloud Infrastructure marketing strategy. Before that, John was the Marketing Director for SolidFire, responsible initially for International marketing (EMEA/APAC).