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6 More Truths About Cloud Computing

The future of the cloud is still morphing for both service providers and customers, as we found at the latest Cloud Carrier Forum

Craig Matsumoto

October 6, 2011

5 Min Read
6 More Truths About Cloud Computing

NEW YORK -- Carrier Cloud Forum -- This week, Light Reading held its second Carrier Cloud Forum, five months after its first. (See 7 Truths About Cloud Computing.)

Why so soon? Because the cloud world is changing that quickly. Here's what's we've learned since May, as explained by panelists and keynoters:

1. Cloud isn't one thing -- and it's not the only thing
That was the thesis of Matt Laslie's morning keynote. As technical director of network technologies for Savvis (Nasdaq: SVVS) (now owned by CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL)), he's been supporting a hybrid approach -- not referring to public plus private clouds, but to the mixing of cloud services with whatever else an enterprise uses, including applications that (gasp!) aren't in the cloud.

"If you're an enterprise, it's fine to mix and match and work with your service provider to build a solution that is not necessarily 100 percent cloud," Laslie said.

For Savvis and some other service providers, cloud services aren't much different from other hosted and managed services. So, with some legwork, Savvis mixes all the elements -- connecting a private data center to Savvis-based cloud services via Savvis's MPLS network, for instance.

2. Enterprises are going to be really hard to serve
Small and medium businesses (SMB) have been the easy targets for cloud services: They don't want to own infrastructure and have no IT staff resisting the move to cloud. Now, cloud providers have to figure out how to attract enterprises -- beyond the occasional rogue enterprise division that taps Amazon Web Services Inc. .

"The thing that slows the enterprise adoption of cloud the most is [the thought of] somehow having to change the network configurations or the security policies they have in place," said Ellen Rubin, vice president of cloud products at Verizon Terremark , now part of Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ).

How to get around that? Scott Bils, partner with The Everest Group, suggested tackling a specific business use case for an enterprise, rather than trying to sell "The Cloud." Bils cited one CIO who has ordered his staff to stop talking to vendors about "cloud" altogether, a sign that the hype has reached the eye-rolling stage.

Similarly, Scott Cain, BT Global Services 's chief architect and CTO, explained that his company's sales strategy involves not just targeting vertical markets, but finding specific use cases in those markets.

{videoembed|213124} Another possibility is that service providers start helping enterprises adjust to the cloud. "We definitely see some service providers moving into the IT consulting realm," said David Frattura, senior director of cloud strategy at Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU).

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3. Security fears are shrinking
Security is still often cited as the No. 1 concern for enterprises considering cloud services, but Guy Shemesh, AlcaLu's senior director of cloud services, said it's fallen to No. 3.

In AlcaLu's poll of 350 IT managers, latency was the top worry, cited by 46 percent. Latencies of 150ms to 500ms aren't satisfactory, the group said, and the unpredictable nature of latency was described by some as "intolerable." Second biggest gripe: 36 percent weren't satisfied with providers' contracted remedies for missing SLAs.

4. But security is still important
Take this example, from Terremark's Rubin: Cloud providers will have to encrypt data. Critical data is being put in the hands of someone else (the cloud provider) and might share space with competitors (in the case of multi-tenant clouds). Customers are going to want some peace of mind about that.

Those kinds of factors won't go away, particularly as the financial and health care industries use more of the cloud.

5. OSS/BSS integration is still a huge problem
Partly, that's because OSS and BSS are problems to begin with; carriers still have multiple systems that never got consolidated. Now there's the cloud to worry about, too.

Agatha Poon, an analyst with Tier 1 Research , said the push into cloud could accelerate the integration of silos, but it will still take time.

Expect to see vendors such as Amdocs Ltd. (NYSE: DOX) and Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) step up to this opportunity, said Heavy Reading's Ari Banerjee. It's like a gift-wrapped marketing campaign for them.

6. Standards still aren't here -- but they are more necessary
In May, service providers said they weren't ready for cloud standards -- standard APIs for connecting into the cloud, for instance.

What's wrong with standardization? Most people said it was too early to set things in standards. Some operators theorized that standards might make it easier for customers to switch cloud services. There's also the question of who gets to define the APIs. But the usefulness of standards is only going to become more obvious as more customers start latching onto the cloud, analysts agreed.

"It can happen, but it has to come from the demand side," Banerjee said. It's going to take big customers with lots of motivation -- like government agencies, he said.

That might not take long. Government has quickly gone cloud-happy, said Christopher Drumgoole, senior vice president of client services at Terremark, which landed a major contract with the Department of Defense and is using that deal to get other business.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, and Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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About the Author(s)

Craig Matsumoto

Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

Yes, THAT Craig Matsumoto – who used to be at Light Reading from 2002 until 2013 and then went away and did other stuff and now HE'S BACK! As Editor-in-Chief. Go Craig!!

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