Enterprise Cloud Computing
Cloud Computing: Opportunities for Communication Service Providers
Cloud computing offers CSPs a great opportunity to regain an important role in delivering services to consumers
By: Kapil Raval
Jul. 25, 2011 02:15 PM
Cloud Computing is an evolution of existing technologies to deliver services to end users. Communication service providers have an early adopter opportunity to compete with new entrants, increase their bottom line and play a dominant role in delivering cloud services.
Service providers have seen many so-called next- generation technology waves in the last 15 years. Cloud computing, which was seen as a new fad, has passed the initial test. Cloud computing is for real and not a vague idea anymore. It helps drive down costs for IT organizations by making infrastructure more distributed, more efficient and massively scalable. It's being accepted by enterprises of different sizes as a smarter way to deliver services. The worldwide cloud computing market is growing fast. According to IDC, it will be a $148.8B market by 2014, of which the public cloud alone would be about $55.5B. Communication service providers (CSPs) have made a significant investment in technology, people and processes. They have customer knowledge and relationships. Public cloud computing offers a unique opportunity to CSPs to defend their hosting business and grow significantly by focusing on a much larger market than what they can do today. This article focuses on some of the areas where CSPs have an advantage over others to take the lead market share in public cloud computing.
The Connected World
Communication service providers (CSPs) understand this better than any other industry. From the very early days of telephony, customers always expected a dial tone when they picked up the phone. CPSs know how to ensure a dial-tone each and every time. CSPs understand and appreciate what it takes to deliver information instantly anywhere every time. They are used to designing, implementing, running and managing infrastructure that is always on. Traditional voice services could be classified as cloud services.
Now it's beyond just the dial-tone. Today, the enterprise that can deliver instantly what a customer/user expects has a competitive advantage. It's important for businesses to make sure that applications, infrastructure and processes in the back end are able to meet this expectation. Businesses need to be agile to capture opportunities presented in this instant-on world.
Today the focus is shifting to service and away from infrastructure components that are getting virtualized, standardized and commoditized. Virtualization utilizes resources better. But an architecture built on disparate components in a virtualized world adds more complexity. As a result, converged infrastructure, based on industry standards, is the foundation for agile service delivery with reduced time to provision additional resources. IT neither has the time nor the budget to integrate different components and own up to the risk of integration, resulting in increased time-to-market.
With virtualization, the application is not tied to the IT infrastructure, resulting in flexibility that's needed to meet the requirements of the real-time world. The service can be delivered from a data center or from the network or a combination of the two, as long as it makes business sense and can meet user's service-level expectations.
Cloud computing is a natural evolution due to the convergence of IT delivery and network. With cloud computing, networking is part of the shared resources. It plays an important role in making everything work in an instant-on manner. It needs to be based on open industry standards, not proprietary protocols, more so now than ever, to provide the required agility and flexibility at reduced operational costs.
Opportunities for Service Providers
Today, CSPs provide network connectivity to enterprise and SMB customers. Cloud service is a natural extension to what they are already providing:
The computing resources and applications remained mostly in data centers. CSPs have focused primarily on managing and supporting networks connecting data centers. Typically, the computing resources are managed separately. If a customer looked for a single point of contact, CSPs, in most cases, worked as sub-contractors to large IT and SI companies.
According to Gartner, "By 2012, 20% of all business will own no IT assets."  As CSPs play a central role in delivering quality service to customers, they have an opportunity to be a services broker for customers. They can become the CIO of many businesses and deliver applications (services) from multiple sources.
CSPs can be trusted providers of network connectivity to cloud services providers. As we move some computing resources from the data center to the network, the network becomes a gateway to store, retrieve, process and analyze information. This increases network traffic with cloud and drives more bandwidth.
CSPs can aggregate different types of services and content and deliver them as and when requested through a self-service portal to customers with required level of quality and personalization on any access device. They can also let consumers store their content in the cloud and allow them to access it on any device.
The traditional hosting business growth for CSPs is tapering off. Cloud computing (IaaS and SaaS) not only offsets this decline but fuels the overall growth for CSPs.
CSPs will improve efficiency and reduce their internal IT costs by deploying cloud, thereby improving the top line. They will also realize a positive business case for internal cloud deployment when it's coupled with revenue-generating GTM programs.
Cloud computing offers CSPs a great opportunity to regain an important role in delivering services to consumers as well as SMB and enterprise customers. The questions remain: Who will take the early adopter advantage with cloud computing and who will try to be early followers?
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