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SAPO, a brand and subsidiary of Portugal Telecom (PT), saw the potential for developing new converged products, which bring together web and mobile telecommunications. As a result, it wanted to expose PT network services to developers to create applications and generate additional advertisement and subscription revenue. It deployed its on-premises Service Delivery Broker (SDB) to the cloud using Windows Azure and Microsoft SQL Azure in collaboration with the TM Forum, an industry association that promotes best practices in IT. The project has shown how SAPO developers and third parties can now rapidly create value in the cloud. The worldwide developer community’s familiarity with Microsoft tools, together with development productivity supported by Windows Azure was a major factor in the choice of a cloud-based platform.
Portugal Telecom (PT) is the largest telecommunications service provider in Portugal with a significant presence in Brazil, Angola, Namibia, Cape Verde, São Tomé e Principe, East Timor, and Macau. Its subsidiary SAPO is a well-known brand and internet service provider that originally started as a search engine in 1995. With mobile service innovation entering the software domain, SAPO saw the potential for developing new converged products that linked computing and other IT technologies, media content, and communication networks.
SAPO recognised early on that a key requirement was a solution to manage the process of exposing individual and composite services supported by a governance system that enforced best practices for enterprise service oriented architectures. The resulting Service Delivery Broker (SDB) evolved as a web services control layer that could efficiently handle common tasks and mediate access to resources within various underlying domains. The SDB needed to do this in a consistent manner across the enterprise, the telecommunications provider’s network, and the cloud.
SAPO was keen to generate new advertising and subscription revenue by creating a two-way Web 2.0 revenue model. The SAPO SDB evolved to expose web enterprise applications such as operations support systems, business support systems (BSS/OSS), and network services to its own developers. António Cruz, Software Architect and SDB Project Manager at SAPO, says: “These include mobile applications, our media room internet protocol television (IPTV) framework, web services, and enterprise applications for businesses.
SAPO also wanted a solution that would support multiple deployments globally. Cruz says:
"While developing its SDB over the past six years, SAPO collaborated with TM Forum, a leading industry association committed to best practice in IT. In support of the TM Forum Software Enabled Services Management Solution, SAPO embarked on a new project that included offering a choice of SDB as a service either on-premises, in the cloud hosted on Windows Azure, or in a flexible hybrid cloud mode. SAPO has now opened the platform to third party developers—600 of them participated in a developers fair and application contest in the last quarter of 2010."
SAPO recognised that consumers and businesses want a great experience across many different services—not just mobile phones, but also on computers and other channels. Cruz says SAPO identified four key business challenges that any solution should address:
In the last quarter of 2010, at the TM Forum Management World Americas 2010 conference, SAPO exhibited its SDB Catalyst for software-empowered services on the Windows Azure platform and Microsoft SQL Azure to help developers easily add telecommunications functions to their applications.
Four developers deployed the entire SDB and its supporting systems to Windows Azure in just two months. Cruz says: “In this new configuration the SDB can also be implemented in a hybrid cloud architecture using Windows Server 2008 R2 and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and Windows Azure and SQL Azure as needed.”
The SAPO SDB Catalyst solution also needed to support application development, service creation, and service delivery worldwide. The scoping of the SDB Catalyst required compliance with new industry standards to improve service oriented architecture governance. These include the TM Forum Software Enabled Services Management for end-to-end service delivery.
Aileen Smith, Senior Vice President Collaboration, TM Forum, says: “These concepts are critical to creating a mature implementation for delivering new services, and one that will help all users to truly compete in the market.”
Cruz adds: “Whether hosted on-premises, in the cloud, or as a hybrid cloud solution, the SDB architecture ensures cost-effective, automatic, and standardised service delivery and management across all phases of the lifecycle.”
SAPO ensured the scalability of new services and application revenue by deploying its SDB to the cloud using Windows Azure and SQL Azure technology. SAPO SDB Catalyst shows how developers and third party customers and partners can innovatively and rapidly create value from service providers APIs, delivering applications over the web, mobile and IPTV channels. The prospects for increased revenue are already favourable and on the SDB Marketplace launch SAPO will be selling APIs for pre-paid access to SMS and other services.
Common Service Delivery Platform for Converged Products
SAPO is driving opportunities for developers with cloud and mobile services recognising that consumers want experiences across a range of screens—not just mobile devices. Cruz says: “We ensure common service creation and exposure for our media room IPTV framework, web services, mobile, and enterprise applications for businesses.”
Service Delivery Broker Creates Developer Marketplace
With Windows Azure and SQL Azure, SAPO has created an SDB Marketplace demonstrating the value of Microsoft technology adoption in both sell-with and sell-to strategies.
Cruz says: “SDB Marketplace is a website where third parties can buy access to service provider product offers such as web service APIs and web applications access. It will also give them the opportunity to have revenue sharing over their own applications usage.”
Enhances Opportunities for .NET Developers to Deploy New Services
Developers using the Microsoft .NET Framework development system can develop applications in minimal time using the SDB hosted on Windows Azure. It avoids the need for capital expenditure on hardware and uses risk-free communications services. Cruz adds: “The SDB service will result in many corporate customers experiencing a new range of value in the applications they can access through multiple channels, including the web and mobile devices.”
The applications already developed by SAPO and deployed on web, mobile, and IPTV channels are mainly based on content services such as weather, pharmacy locations and opening hours, traffic news, sport, and national and international news. Cruz says: “When we launch our SDB Marketplace we will be selling pre-paid access to services such as SMS. On a second release we will focus on more services and support a two-way revenue sharing model with application developers.”
Helps Ensure Application Compliance with Industry Standards
For the SDB Catalyst, SAPO developers added a standard way for a service designer to add a TM Forum Software Enabled Services Management Interface (SMI) to any individual service provider or service mashup. Cruz says: “The presence of the SMI makes end-to-end management easier and helps developers monitor revenue coming from their services.”
The SDB solution effectively provides a role-based services factory that helps enforce TM Forum and Information Technology Infrastructure Library standards while providing a solid governance model for managing the services lifecycle. The demonstrated result has been to significantly improve service reusability while reducing the time and cost of launching and retiring services. As a result, adoption is accelerating.