GigaOM: Xeround Enables Telco Services by Virtualizing Silos
By Derrick Harris Apr. 16, 2009, 11:00am PST
Database virtualization proprietor Xeround said yesterday that it received a Billing & OSS World 2009 Excellence Award for “Best Operational Support System” based on its deployment at T-Mobile. Both companies have been mum on the details of the deployment (trust me, I asked), but given Xeround’s value proposition, it’s not too difficult to imagine ways in which T-Mobile might be utilizing the company’s Intelligent Data Grid product.
Don’t let the parade of buzzwords like “grid” and “virtualization” throw you — Xeround offers real benefits to companies with distributed data problems by giving them a federated view of pretty much all of their data. Xeround’s focus thus far has been on the telecom market, where providers tend to have subscriber data of various types, like SQL, LDAP and XML, housed in silos across the network. Because it federates data rather than centralizing it, implementing Intelligent Data Grid is relatively inexpensive and requires minimal architectural overhaul. Additionally, the solution supports both in-memory and in-disk storage simultaneously, so multiple applications can meet their respective latency requirements.
What all this means for telcos is that they can offer targeted services based on the whole of a customer’s data profile. In a September 2008 feature I wrote on Xeround, the Yankee Group’s Ari Banerjee suggested as an example location-based services, wherein a mobile provider would notice that a customer is out of town, and then send him information, coupons, advertising, etc., that would be of use in the customer’s current location. Such a business model, he stressed, would be near impossible if the data was kept in separate silos.
When I caught up with Xeround CEO Charlotte Yarkoni a few months back, she noted that mobile operators now are “really struggling with key questions about ‘How do I hook my mobile network into the social networks?’” This type of use is on the horizon, she added, because Xeround is looking into how to unify data not just within a company’s network or cloud, but also among clouds. We can expect to see advances on the cloud computing front when version 3.0 is released later this year.
Thus far, Xeround’s only public customers are T-Mobile and Pelephone, an Israeli wireless provider with upward of 3 million customers. However, Yarkoni told me the company is seeing a lot of interest (including from the financial services space), and fourth-quarter 2008 revenue topped the previous three quarters combined. Aside from the unique nature of Xeround’s offering, she attributed some fourth-quarter success to the economic downturn, telling me, “Anybody who comes with that monolithic approach to solving a problem will lose in the economy going forward, because no one can afford the disruption.”
As for T-Mobile, the use case that won Xeround the B/OSS award, here’s all we know: T-Mobile went into live production during the fourth quarter of 2008, and according to T-Mobile CIO Robert Strickland, who was quoted in yesterday’s press release, the carrier’s “ability to deliver innovative technology solutions helps improve the customer experience.”