As a service provider, you have to find new ways to attract new customers, retain existing customers and add new services all the time.

Customers are constantly looking for new services, so you have to be on top of your game.

And the market is getting a lot more competitive: the big cloud providers are eating into your market on the one side, while low-cost emerging companies are bringing disruption from another direction.

Service providers are feeling the squeeze from all sides: costs are under pressure; there’s increasing demand for new and innovative services; and they are having to work harder than ever just to stay where they are.

It’s at times like this that partnering with the right technology provider can make all the difference.

Fujitsu understands the pressures service providers face, which is why it offers them higher performing products; solutions precisely tailored to individual customer needs; and commercially innovative finance and service options.

Grow and de-risk with Fujitsu

Service providers are the people that customers turn to when they need always-on computing, on-demand storage and services that can be consumed as and when required.

This means they have to provide a wealth of services that may or may not be used, while planning for expansion that may or may not happen.

This puts them in the uncomfortable position of having to take a lot of expensive bets about their business.

But what if service providers could buy their IT infrastructure in a more flexible way: paying for capacity when they use it; and even with the option of returning equipment if they don’t need it anymore?

Now they can do just this.

With solutions and services from Fujitsu, service providers can now move up the value chain and become service integrators.

Ruediger Frickenschmidt,, head of EMEIA xSP and IoT at Fujitsu, explains that Fujitsu is dedicated to de-risking the journey for service providers.

De-risking comes in two forms, and can be tailored to the client’s specific needs.

The first model is around growth capacity, Frickenschmidt explains. In this scenario, the customer pays for his base hardware and software configuration – but there’s an additional buffer added in case additional capacity is needed. The service provider pays only if and when this buffer is used, and then only for the portion and time it’s used.

If the business grows and the buffer is used more frequently, it can be incorporated into the base infrastructure, and a new buffer added.

In this way, the service provider doesn’t pay for capacity that’s not being used, Frickenschmidt points out.

He second model allows the service provider to actually return data centre equipment if the business changes or scales down.

“If the customer has a 36-month or 48-month contract for the equipment, but decides after 24 months that it’s no longer required, we will simply take it back,” Frickenschmidt says.

Together, these two models protect the service provider from a range of risks: capacity risk; lock-in risk; cost risk; downtime risk; migration risk; and slow time to billing.

“We are committed to working closely with all of our service providers to help ease all of their pain points,” Frickenschmidt says.

When it comes to capacity, the ability to create buffers or return equipment is a huge benefit for service providers who need to plan for maximum usage – but don’t want to incur the costs for hardware that’s standing idle.

Lock-in is avoided because Fujisu will take its equipment back if the service provider downsizes or decides to switch to a different environment. “The market can change, and service providers sometimes need to change too,” Frickenschmidt explains.

In similar vein, a new cloud provider might enter the market, or customer needs might change from what the service provider offers, so revenues in a particular area could drop – and it could happen quickly. Being able to return equipment protects the customer against cost risks.

Downtime can be a massive risk for service providers. Fujitsu designs its hardware to the highest standards to avoid unplanned downtime, but planned downtime is a reality. If this has to be moved or rescheduled, unexpected risks can crop up. The ability to take parts of the system down without affecting other parts is a boon for service providers.

“We know that setting up a data centre is an expensive business, and migrating to a new environment incurs extra costs – while requiring costly skills – that businesses often just don’t have.

“So we create micro-alliances or ecosystems where we can help run services for our customers; or link customers up with one another where there is a symbiosis. We can bundle these solutions and offer them to service providers as a service.”

Systems that work together without lengthy implementation and testing, but can be up and running often in a matter of hours, helps to mitigate the time to billing.

Supplying equipment that’s designed for the service provider environment is another way that Fujitsu helps to de-risk the customer journey, Frickenschmidt adds.

Because Fujitsu products are pre-tested to work in a converged and hyperconverged environment, service providers can save valuable time and resources on deployment.

Further savings come in during operations as well. Because Fujitsu products are energy efficient, they can help customers to save up to 30% of their electricity bill.

“Yes, we sell industry-standard hardware,” Frickenschmidt says. “But Fujitsu servers are the most compatible with VMware, so customers can run 3% more virtual servers on Fujitsu than comparable hardware from other vendors.”

Fujitsu helps customers to save on licensing costs too. Storage software licencing is paid on the initial base configuration, at rates similar to other storage vendors. When arrays are added, there’s no additional licencing costs, so Fujitsu storage becomes more cost-effective as the customer grows – unlike competitive products where additional software costs are incurred as storage capacity is added.

“If you take the savings from faster deployment, lower electricity costs, increased capacity and lower software licensing costs, it adds up to real benefits on the customer’s bottom line, and offers substantial benefits to the business.

“And our products just don’t fail: they are superb quality.”

Fujitsu’s solution aims to anticipate and solve the many challenges that service provider face in their quest to become service integrators, Frickenschmidt adds.

“We have engaged with our service provider customers, including a number of core customers in South Africa, to tailor our solutions to their needs,” he says. “We have focused on how we can help them to move their businesses forward.

“We want to engage with the service providers on a partnership basis, and create ecosystems or value chains that benefit everyone. There is not just one single answer to their needs: some need help with skills, some need a deployment tool, others have no hardware, and still others want to do everything themselves.

“IDC talks about micro-alliances and we are actively creating them in our service provider business.”

The South African operation is the first Fujitsu team in EMEA that is taking the service provider offerings to market, Frickenschmidt adds. “In South Africa, service providers are taking the next step to becoming service integrators.”