SK Telecom, a South Korean telecommunications service provider, wanted to use its extensive experience in mobile network technology to move into a global market. It built an indoor location-based services (ILBS) solution for mobile devices called
Wizturn that runs in the Microsoft Azure cloud-computing environment and added StorSimple, a cloud-integrated storage solution from Microsoft. Offering an ILBS solution that uses the Microsoft cloud operating system adds value to Wizturn and boosts global
marketability. Customers can connect to virtual machines and data storage resources from anywhere in the world, and they can scale those resources according to their needs. SK Telecom believes that its ILBS solution will enable customers to take advantage
of the latest cloud-computing trend, the Internet of Things, and build new connections with consumers via mobile devices.
South Korean telecommunications services provider, SK Telecom, wanted to take advantage of the growing indoor location-based service (IBLS) market. Already well-established in its local market, the company wanted to leverage its mobile network technology
expertise and increase revenue. SK Telecom also reasoned that by developing and offering innovative services in the ILBS market it would improve its competitive standing in the global marketplace.
Today, devices that have global positioning system (GPS) receivers built in are a well-established part of our mobile computing experience. But as people rely more and more on smartphones, the physical limitations of GPS, which requires a clear view of the
sky and doesn’t work indoors, have become a blocker for the next generation of location-based applications. Today, the majority of smartphone usage occurs indoors—including public indoor spaces such as malls, airports, retail outlets, museums, and subways—making
a strong business case for ILBS, where, for example, it can be used inside commercial buildings to help consumers find their way to a store or to an item on their shopping list.
||Our Wizturn platform will be a value-packed window to ILBS services with Microsoft Azure as the stable foundation for global business.
| Choo Seun Hyun
Convergence Business Development Team,
SK Telecom also recognized that making inroads into the ILBS market would be a way to capitalize on the increasing connectedness of all kinds of devices, a trend called the Internet of Things (IoT). SK Telecom saw that ILBS is a promising customer service opportunity
for IoT, focused as it is on delivering useful, location-based information to consumers using a variety of mobile devices. In the broad consumer market, context-aware services are becoming a key differentiator for companies who use them to engage with potential
customers. Analyst firm ABI research predicts that by 2017, the indoor location technology market will reach US$5 billion in revenues, represent more than 200,000 installations of infrastructure equipment, including Wi-Fi hotspots, Bluetooth-based beacons,
and more than 800 million branded applications downloads to mobile devices.*
To take advantage of this opportunity, SK Telecom determined to provide an ILBS platform for its customers. The idea was to provide a solution for SK Telecom customers to learn the location of consumers, using an ultra-wide band (UWB) network and then to
deliver information and services to those consumers’ mobile devices via Wi-Fi or a Bluetooth 4.0 beacon. SK Telecom noticed that most competitors focused on the wireless beacon itself rather than prioritizing network architecture and building a cost-effective
service platform. SK Telecom decided to make the most of its knowledge of UWB networks capable of 50-centimeter precision and to create an ILBS platform that would stand out from its competitors’ offerings.
To achieve this goal, SK Telecom needed to develop an ILBS platform that could work in any global market. SK Telecom thought that using the public cloud, together with a standardized infrastructure and platform, would facilitate initial setup of its ILBS
platform, no matter where its customer was. “We thought that we could stand a better chance of winning against global companies if we standardized everything from physical infrastructure to the server operating system and data in a cloud-friendly platform
that ensures the same level of performance and stability anywhere in the world,” says an SK Telecom spokesperson. “In this regard, software packaging did not fit our model: It is not realistic to install the system, outsource software development, train staff,
and do maintenance work on a case-by-case basis. We just needed to find the right cloud computing technology vendor to accommodate our strategic goals.”
SK Telecom decided to partner with Microsoft and build its ILBS platform, dubbed Wizturn (Wisdom + Turn), on Microsoft Azure, a cloud platform that provides on-demand compute, storage, content delivery, and networking capabilities from Microsoft data
||It is not realistic to install the system, outsource software development, train staff, and do maintenance work on a case-by-case basis. We just needed to find the right cloud computing technology vendor to accommodate our strategic
| SK Telecom spokesperson
“We needed a partner to work with us on Wizturn development and planning, not a vendor to lend us computing resources, and that partner was Microsoft,” says an SK Telecom spokesperson. “Unlike other cloud services, Microsoft Azure enables collaboration with
Microsoft and its extensive ecosystem, opening up the doors to working with software developers, ISV partners, and others to add value to our Microsoft Azure–based ILBS platform.”
Wizturn incorporates a UWB infrastructure and a beacon capable of locating consumers in a large building. When a customer deploys Wizturn, it uses the platform to automatically detect a consumer’s location and to deliver pertinent location-based information,
for example product information, to his or her mobile device. In a retail setting, all service transactions can be handled on Microsoft Azure and the consumer can make a payment with their smartphone. Microsoft Azure helps encrypt and keep personal, confidential
information safe, whether stored on-premises or in the cloud.
SK Telecom used another Microsoft cloud-computing technology to help solve a potential problem to marketing its solution globally. It needed a flexible data storage solution to accommodate global customers that must comply with local data security regulations
as well as established international privacy and information location laws. StorSimple, a cloud-integrated storage solution that works with Windows environments enables Wizturn customers to store some data on-premises in accordance with laws governing location
information and usage, and to store other data in Microsoft Azure. When extra storage is needed to cope with sudden surges in ILBS usage, StorSimple uploads data to Microsoft Azure. StorSimple embodies advanced technologies that include wide area network (WAN)
optimization, data compression, redundancy removal, and security for streamlined data storage and transfer.
Flexible Deployment Options
Customers can choose to deploy the Wizturn platform on-premises or use the software-as-a-service (SaaS) deployment option with the complete solution hosted in the Microsoft Azure environment. With the SaaS option, web, map, and key services are provided
using virtual machines, Microsoft Azure SQL Database, and block blob storage within the Microsoft Azure environment. With the on-premises option, the Wizturn platform can be deployed on the Windows Server 2012 R2 operating system and Microsoft SQL Server 2012
data management software. SK Telecom designed the Wizturn platform to achieve a flexible architecture that would allow users to scale computing resources up and down as required. Whether opting for the SaaS or on-premises delivery, customers can add more infrastructure,
services and storage whenever they need to because both SaaS and on-premises are connected to Microsoft Azure. (See Figure 1.)
|Figure 1 – SK Telecom uses Microsoft Azure as the basis for its ILBS solution.
The cloud-based aspect of the solution is giving SK Telecom a competitive
advantage in the global market.
Working with Microsoft and using the Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform, SK Telecom completed the development of the Wizturn platform in early 2014 and immediately began to market the solution globally. To date, 15 service models are under development
and will be deployed on a commercial scale from early 2014 onwards.
With Wizturn, SK Telecom is positioning itself as a global leader in the ILBS market that encompasses the latest Internet of Things trend in cloud computing. SK Telecom has created a solution that connects people and their devices to data and a wireless
infrastructure so its customers can change their business in real time. “Our Wizturn platform will be a value-packed window to ILBS services with Microsoft Azure as the stable foundation for global business,” says Choo Seun Hyun, Manager of the Convergence
Business Development Team at SK Telecom.
Cloud-Based Solution Improves Marketability
According to SK Telecom, Wizturn is the first solution to incorporate ILBS technology and the public cloud. It is the cloud-based aspect of the platform that gives Wizturn a competitive advantage. That’s because Microsoft Azure offers customers an ILBS
platform that obviates the need for any on-premises infrastructure and offers elastic scalability along with robust service level agreements. “Wizturn is marketable on a global scale because customers can save time and money as they develop ILBS service models
that meet their needs,” says an SK Telecom spokesperson. “Offering customers a standard, cloud-based ILBS solution means SK Telecom has a solution that works for any customer, anywhere: key for covering a global market.”
And with an ILBS solution based on Microsoft Azure, it’s easy to offer the same level of performance and stability from anywhere in the world, because the same virtual machine and data storage resources are available to customers simply by connecting to
the Microsoft Azure environment. “Using the public cloud and a standardized infrastructure and platform facilitates initial setup, no matter where the customer is,” says an SK Telecom spokesperson. “A quick time-to-market is a huge competitive advantage we
gain with Microsoft cloud-based technologies.”
Global Ecosystem Adds Value
||Using the public cloud and a standardized infrastructure and platform facilitates initial set up, no matter where the customer is. A quick time-to-market is a huge competitive advantage we gain with Microsoft cloud-based technologies.
| SK Telecom spokesperson
Another benefit of working with Microsoft and the Microsoft Azure platform is that SK Telecom can focus on developing beneficial business partnerships within the Microsoft ecosystem. For this reason, Microsoft Azure was a strategic move that will help
SK Telecom boost its competitive standing.
“The success of the Wizturn platform depends on the ecosystem behind it,” says an SK Telecom spokesperson. “ILBS is a business that requires cooperation between the many different parties involved. For example, SK Telecom needs software developers, wireless
cell architects, and map authorizers on board to provide services via the Wizturn platform. It is important to create an ecosystem through which the many companies and experts involved can work together and stay connected. In this regard, Microsoft is a reliable
SK Telecom also expects the Microsoft global ISV (Independent Software Vendor) partner network to develop and market innovative services that would help improve the competitiveness of the Wizturn platform. “When our dedication to the Wizturn ILBS platform
is combined with Microsoft’s partnership network, it will create great synergy,” says an SK spokesperson. “The future looks bright indeed.”
Scalability Reduces Administration, Costs
SK Telecom gained another competitive differentiator with Microsoft Azure and StorSimple—a flexible architecture that allows customers to scale computing resources up and down as required. “Microsoft Azure and StorSimple constitute a scale-out cloud
architecture, which minimizes administrative work: All a customer has to do is subscribe to more resources in the cloud when needed,” says an SK Telecom spokesperson.
In addition, StorSimple streamlines cloud-based data storage and protection for customers. For example, customers can use StorSimple to store the most frequently used data on-premises and migrate less-used data to the cloud, minimizing on-premises data management
tasks. For both on-premises and SaaS Wizturn options, StorSimple can be used for cloud-based backup and archiving purposes, instead of paying for on-premises storage and third-party backup solutions.
Takes Advantage of the Internet of Things
SK Telekom believes that because Wizturn takes advantage of the Internet of Things trend, it has added marketability. One aspect of the IoT is the delivery of information and services to consumers without their having to do anything other than what they
normally do, which is carry mobile devices. For example, Wizturn used in a retail environment can help SK Telecom customers redefine their in-store consumer engagement scenarios with ILBS services that drive sales and generate data about consumer behavior.
In fact, Wizturn would be useful anywhere context-aware services could be used as a key differentiator to interact and engage with potential customers. “We are looking forward to capitalizing on the business opportunities yet to be uncovered by the unfolding
megatrend of ILBS and the IoT,” concludes an SK Telecom spokesperson.
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