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If you want to unleash the full potential of your partner network, building alliances are the name of the game.
There are few people who know more about alliance building than Amit Tiwari, Vice President of Strategic Alliances & Systems Engineering at Affirmed Networks. Affirmed Networks is the leader in virtualized mobile networks, which brings together mobile operators, service providers, app makers, and more.
New exciting alliance landscape
Today, alliances are driving technology like never before.
"I've spent my entire career in service provider connectivity and mobility roles," says Tiwari. "This is a once in a lifetime kind of a transition, where you have virtualization, cloudification, and 5G-driven ubiquitous connectivity."
Because of this rapid convergence, Tiwari sees the pervasive connectivity as the real game changer.
"Pervasive connectivity, ultra-low latency, being able to instantaneously connect and do things that we already do today, and some that we haven't even thought of," says Tiwari. "Think about the next generation of connected cars connecting to a network base station to vehicle-to-vehicle communication, vehicle-to-curb communication, and vehicle-to-command center communication as you do some autonomous driving."
To paraphrase Sun Microsystems' Scott McNealy, the network is the killer app.
"The ecosystem is the enabler," says Tiwari. "The ecosystem is no longer the domain of one company or a handful of companies. The days of oligarchy on the network are in our rearview mirror."
Instead of a closed system run by legacy service providers, the democratization of network technologies is opening up the network as a platform so that other innovative companies can now come in and innovate on top of these service provider platforms.
Instead of a handful of big companies, what's fueling this growth is thousands of small vendors who can shoestring innovate on an open platform.
Use cases will drive alliances
If you consider the different data requirements for autonomous driving, imagine the differences between a passenger car, a long haul truck, and an ambulance.
The ambulance needs to send prioritization communications to override traffic lights, to vehicle-to-vehicle autonomous systems to have them make way long before a human driver could react to the siren so that the ambulance could speed unimpeded to its destination. Add on top of those driving-related layers, all of the real-time medical data that an ambulance must relay to hospital staff while en route, and you've got many alliances that need to be forged.
For example, Affirmed Networks writes applications that take advantage of all of the infrastructure pieces that are provided by these partners and then creates end-to-end applications that allow these different use cases to happen.
"The democratization of the network is what creates and enables innovation in this space," says Tiwari. "We worked together creating reference architectures and certified designs with the likes of our key partners like Qualcomm, Red Hat, VMware to create this joint reference architecture. And now actual systems integration becomes a definable scenario."
These reference architectures create designs for different use cases from the connected car to secure encrypted sessions for financial transactions that are now certified and give the service providers the level of assurance they need.
Making the ecosystem profitable for everyone
In order to make the ecosystem profitable for everyone, you need to create business plans based on use cases.
For example, let's compare a low-bandwidth, non-urgent task like remote power meter reading verses. something resource-heavy like an automated ambulance sending real-time data to the hospital. Both are using the network but their demands are different.
"The types of network usage that are driven by power meter reading versus a connected ambulance or an autonomous self-driving car are very different," says Tiwari. "You have to make the business case work for different types of bandwidth for different use cases."
After you make the first use cases pencil out to profitability, adding new ones becomes easier. This finances ecosystem expansion, which eventually lowers the costs of all use cases.
"Now they have built that network and there is excess capacity or they can add capacity. It's a smaller spend to add capacity with new use cases versus actually building out that entire capacity from zero," says Tiwari. "It's driven by technology, but it has to have that technology be justified by the business."
Upcoming joint go-to-market alliances
Tiwari sees the future of the ecosystem being driven by joint go-to-market alliances where partners big and small craft a variety of service offerings.
"Think of the app store for the smartphone; we could create a service store for service providers," says Tiwari. "You could have small, very innovative folks writing applications for service providers that are then running on this platform because it's an open ecosystem doing innovation just like the web folks do."
These joint technology solutions in this partner ecosystem would exist in different parts of the ecosystem from cloud providers like Amazon Web Services or IBM which is a systems integrator.
"You'd be creating a solution that has components of technology, sales, and marketing tied together. So it really is multidimensional," says Tiwari. "Jointly co-creating is very compelling for deeply integrated solutions. It's like you're working with your engineering team, but you're also working with the partner team, the ecosystem engineering team as if they were just simply part of the whole team."
The future belongs to alliance makers
People who can forge alliances between technology and business can write their own ticket.
"You can actually generate value for the partner by making sure they understand how this product that we are co-creating is going to get used," says Tiwari. "If you crave understanding 'the why,' alliances is the place to go."