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What a network-centric cloud really means for telco service providers

Keao Caindec, CMO, cloud business unit at Dimension Data, speaks to ITProPortal about the opportunity for the telco industry to take advantage of the maturing cloud trend, what a network-centric cloud really means for telco service providers and why collaboration is key for cloud success.

Why are telecom service providers well placed to adopt cloud computing?

Cloud based applications are only as strong as the connectivity of the IT network on which they run. The good news is that telco service providers (TSPs) all own an existing IT infrastructure that is built to handle low latency connectivity and an extensive network of trusted commercial relationships to make moving to the cloud a viable and natural progression.

However, the telecoms industry is facing stiff competition from cloud service providers such as Rackspace, Microsoft, Amazon and Google, who are delivering cloud-based, business-grade unified Communication and Collaboration Services.

So what can telecom service providers do to fend off cloud competition?

In order to compete on the global cloud stage, TSPs not only need to bring their cloud services to market quickly, they also need the in-house cloud expertise, such as cloud software development and marketing, to develop a feature rich, competitive offering. TSPs should work with and leverage the experience of cloud integrators to gain this cloud expertise and continue to focus on their strengths, such as the network, to be successful in the cloud.

How does adopting a network centric cloud differ from a server centric model and what benefits could TSPs expect to see?

Having already invested large amounts of money into strengthening their network technology, such as LTE and fibre, there is now an increasing need for TSPs to develop value from what goes over these faster networks.

Customers are increasingly searching for better on-demand and high speed connectivity services and TSPs that are investing in the cloud will be able to significantly enhance, extend and diversify their portfolio beyond connectivity to generate revenue.

The network-centric cloud provides many benefits over its predecessor, the 'best effort' server-centric cloud, simply because it allows configuration at the networking layer and boasts network-based security, strong SLAs and enterprise-class performance. This next generation cloud offering can also be managed easily because TSPs already own their networks, service assurances and dedicated data centres for hosting services.

With many businesses cautious to adopt cloud technologies, are there any barriers that TSPS should be aware of?

There are several barriers that TSPs face in implementing a network-centric cloud. Without the cloud expertise and software development experience needed to select, integrate and market cloud technologies and services, TSPs can suffer from implementing an offering that is poorly planned and executed. This can lead to delays that become unprofitable before even going to market.

Additionally, complying with local data and security regulations and providing high quality disaster recovery adds to the complexity of implementing a cloud offering.

What is the best way for TSPS to implement cloud technologies?

TSPs have three methods for rolling out their cloud service; build their own cloud service, outsource building a cloud service, or partnering with a cloud service provider to create an customisable cloud offering. The first two options can be time consuming - often taking several years to bring a cloud service to market and require considerable investment in talent and technology development. The most preferable option for TSPs is the latter.

Is collaboration with a cloud service provider really the best option?

Partnering with a cloud service provider offers TSPs the choice to host a cloud service within their own data centre and leverage their own network technology. An additional benefit to this implementation is that they would have access to the cloud provider's sales, marketing and operational expertise to help them to truly get a product to market. The result; TSPs are able to go to market in a matter of weeks and generate revenue quickly.

One such company doing so is JT, who recently partnered with Dimension Data, as a OneCloud Alliance partner, to create a cloud solution that will offer their customers a secure and reliable infrastructure and enable self-service provisioning of servers and storage without the need to build their own platforms.

As a result, JT will soon be able to provide their customers with enhanced new cloud based services such as IP telephony and video conferencing, to choose where their systems are hosted and select the level of security required. Additionally, JT will have the ability to change their demands as their business dictates, allowing them to focus and tailor their offering to the key industries they sell into - financial, online gaming and legal.

What are the benefits of building a network of cloud partnerships?

A successful cloud collaboration can also involve partnering with another TSPs to globally leverage and exchange each other's' network capacity.

Setting up a global cloud service can be costly and complex due to the multiple regulations wrapped around data, such as data protection and storage compliance, and the capital required. When faced with this challenge, partnering with a local TSP who is already compliant with local regulations, or a cloud integrator, can make a big difference.

The benefits of collaboration are numerous; increased traffic to cloud platforms from markets in other regions, access to a partner's facilities to offer varied services and reduced cost to deploy. JT will have the ability to deploy a cloud service in the UK and off shore and simultaneously. In meeting the needs of the data sovereignty security and low latency requirements of European and UK based businesses; JT will have the capability to deploy its service quickly and efficiently.

There are also cloud partnership programs that support service providers in bringing new cloud services to market by gaining access to a global network of managed cloud platforms and an ecosystem of partners.

What should TSPs look for when working with a cloud integrator?

TSPs should work with cloud service providers and integration partners to bring a competitive cloud offering to market ahead of their competition which can comprise of enhanced services such as cloud based telephony and video conferencing, as well as virtual desktops and storage to expand their services and meet customer demand.