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7 Truths About Cloud Computing

Gleaned from hours of discussion at Interop, here are the big cloud trends influencing service providers

May 12, 2011

4 Min Read
7 Truths About Cloud Computing

LAS VEGAS -- Interop -- Cloud services were a dominant topic here this week. Hours of discussion, conference sessions and interviews led to the following conclusions:

It's too soon for cloud service standards
Telecom service providers typically want to move to standardize services, but that's not yet on anyone's mind. Doug Junkins, CTO of NTT America Inc. , and Scott Cain, head Global Portfolio Management, BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), both agreed on this point during a panel I moderated at the Carrier Cloud Forum. There are still too many things to work out to begin cementing things in standards, although standard APIs for connecting pieces of cloud services will become important. A day later, Chris Gesell, chief cloud strategist at Verizon Enterprise Solutions , agreed and went a step further, saying Verizon doesn't want to commit to standards now and get locked into an approach that loses a VHS-Betamax battle down the road. Even Tom Mornini, CTO and co-founder of EngineYard, a cloud platform provider, agrees that it's too early to nail down standards.

But end-users can't get locked into cloud solutions
On this point, cloud will have to remain different from other networking services, where term contracts are the norm and CPE is tied into the network offering. At an Interop panel on cloud moderated by Randy Bias, CTO of cloud consultant Cloudscaling , a diverse set of industry experts agreed that end-users must be able to move from one cloud platform to another or pull their services back onto their own premises. That thinking confirmed what Mark Thiele, VP of data center strategy for ServiceMesh, an IT software and services company, said at our Carrier Cloud Forum a day earlier. This will be a key trust factor for early adoption of cloud. (See Clouds Need More Than SLAs.)

Network operators who want to develop cloud services should move fast -- with caution
The battle for the cloud already includes Web providers such as Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) and Rackspace and some, including Bias, think telecom service providers won't win the battle for green-field apps versus these more nimble Web competitors with their commodity pricing:

{videoembed|207676} That said, service providers can leverage their networks, their relationships with businesses but they need to proceed carefully -- what Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR)'s Mike Marcellin calls "placing many small bets" versus a few large ones, and staying close to the roulette wheel, so to speak, to be ready to double-down on those with greater chances of success. (See Characteristics of Cloud Computing.)

Next page: Vertical Reach & Mobility

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

Cloud services represent another way to go vertical
BT is already targeting four specific markets -- financial markets, global commerce, consumer package goods, government and health care -- developing specific knowledge of those industries and using that knowledge to create industry-specific services. Verizon, which has created business units around key verticals such as the health care industry, is also creating industry-specific cloud services. This is one area in which network service providers can distinguish themselves from Web-based offers, although they will face competition here from large systems integrators, and have to invest in industry-specific expertise to succeed:

{videoembed|207692} Mobility and cloud services are a natural fit
As more mobile users need access to data from smartphones and tablets, putting that data in the cloud makes sense. But the real winners are the companies that not only provide access to the data but also have the ability to use that data in meaningful ways, and combine with other capabilities such as presence and policy. This only gets more compelling as machine-to-machine (M2M) communications takes hold, says Verizon's Chris Geselle. (See Verizon Biz Supports 'Bring Your Own Device' ). There are many partnership options for cloud services
Even the smallest of service providers can get into cloud relatively quickly, because there are a lot of companies eager to help. At the Carrier Cloud Forum, firms such as Parallels Holdings Ltd. , AppDirect and CHR Solutions Inc. were on hand to share expertise, and we'll have more on their efforts in coming days. (See Charter Clouds Up For SMBs.)

Still very early days for cloud, change is on the way
Security, particularly for customer data, is critical, but so are a range of service-level agreements (SLAs) for availability, performance and other characteristics yet to develop. Cloud needs to remain on-demand and pay-as-you-go, but beyond that will likely evolve in many different directions:

{videoembed|207831} Previous page: Too Soon for Standards?

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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