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Leading Lights 2017 Finalists: Most Innovative Cloud Service

Carol Wilson

The notion of what constitutes a "cloud service" in the telecom space has changed dramatically from 2010, when the notion of cloud started popping up on the telecom landscape. So it's not surprising that this year's shortlist for Most Innovative Cloud Service represents that diverse landscape.

One finalist, Telstra Corp. Ltd., has created a comprehensive approach to cloud services and is now streamlining the way enterprises connect with a diversity of cloud-based resources. Another finalist, Digital Realty Trust Inc., is using a software-defined networking approach to making cloud connections easier as a way to differentiate its services in a competitive market. And the third finalist, AT&T, used cloud technology to revolutionize the way it orchestrated and managed its core networks and then shared what it developed with the industry via open source.

We're going to go into greater depth on our shortlist but first, I'll remind you that winners for all of the Leading Lights categories will be announced at the Leading Lights Awards Dinner on Monday, May 15, at Brazos Hall in Austin, Texas. The following day will mark the start of this year's Big Communications Event.

You're invited to attend Light Reading's Big Communications Event -- the ONE event that delivers context and clarity to the software-driven future. There's still time to register and communications service providers get in free.

If you've been living under a rock for the last three months, you may not have heard that AT&T developed its own software code -- 8 million lines or so -- for a cloud-based platform it called Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy (ECOMP), that it developed to create the infrastructure and enable automation that supports virtual network functions.

ECOMP was born of necessity -- having decided to start virtualizing its functions at an aggressive pace (5% in 2015; 30%-plus last year), AT&T found there was no industry solution to how it would automate service delivery and perform basic tasks such as service assurance, performance management and fault management as well as SDN control. So it developed a cloud-based, model-driven platform to do that, using real-time data collection, analytics and policy functions to automate network management.

By releasing its code as open source to the Linux Foundation, where ECOMP is now part of a broader initiative, the Open Platform for Network Automation (ONAP), AT&T has enabled this cloud-driven technology to be used by network operators -- including China Mobile, Orange and Bell Canada Enterprises -- serving billions of wireless subscribers, helping to change the landscape of wireless services globally.

Digital Realty Trust – Service Exchange
When Digital Realty announced Service Exchange, competitive cloud exchange services were already in the market and doing well, so the company decided to go a few steps farther and launch a product that would also offer virtual services such as security, and be delivered through a global platform and managed by a single service portal.

Service Exchange leverages SDN technology and a platform developed by its partner, Megaport, to extend the reach of Service Exchange beyond its own data centers. In addition to providing direct, private connections to a range of public cloud service providers including Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft Azure, it can connect enterprises to multiple network service providers, additional participants on the platform and third party data center providers.

The platform offers both rapid scaling and a pay-as-you-go approach that matches well to cloud services. By providing secure, high-throughput, low-latency access options with a simplified and automated service delivery model, Digital Realty intends to lower the cost and complications for enterprises looking to deploy hybrid cloud and multi-cloud strategies.

Telstra – Telstra Global Cloud Services
Like many of its global services competitors, Telstra launched a cloud services platform a few years back and has been adding capability to it ever since, including easy connections to common public clouds as well as hosted private clouds in its data centers for enterprises pursuing the increasingly common hybrid approach to cloud adoption.

Telstra's Generation 2.0 enhancements, introduced in the second quarter of 2016, in Q2 2016, integrated the newest versions of cloud technology from Cisco, VMware and SAP, and introduced its Cloud Gateway and Cloud Management platforms, which greatly simplified how enterprises interact with Telstra to get their cloud connections.

It is that effort that landed Telstra on the cloud services shortlist. Cloud Gateway is a single portal to connect to multiple public and private clouds in multiple locations. It easily enables enterprises to extend their virtual private networks to public clouds and deploy new connections to multiple clouds, allocating the needed bandwidth on an on-demand basis.

The Cloud Management Platform, which uses Rightscale's Cloud Management Platform, provides a single console that can control and manage new and existing workloads across multiple clouds and servers, simplifying the implementation and management of hybrid cloud resources. It supports public clouds such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, as well as private clouds powered by CloudStack, OpenStack and VMware.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

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