Rather than avoid competing with Amazon and other Web cloud providers, KT is trying to outdo them

May 26, 2011

3 Min Read
Mgmt World:  KT Puts Commodity Spin on Cloud

DUBLIN -- Management World 2011 -- Most communications service providers are promoting their cloud services as better than the commodity Web offerings from the likes of Amazon Web Services Inc. , but KT Corp. took the stage here Wednesday to show how it is actually undercutting Amazon on cloud pricing.

The KT presentation was sandwiched between two other service providers -- SFR and Colt Technology Services Group Ltd -- who showcased what might be called more traditional CSP approaches to cloud, because they focused on adding value and tying in network services. The contrasts between the three painted a picture of diversity in carrier cloud.

Charles Huh, VP, ICT convergence department of KT, was accompanied by Randy Bias, CEO and founder of Cloudscaling and consultant who is encouraging service providers to build next-gen cloud infrastructure to attract new business. With help from Bias, KT began building its cloud offering a year ago. It launched a private version in the fall of 2010 and added a public cloud offering in March that is largely focused on supporting mobile data services. (See KT Launches Private Cloud.)

By using commodity hardware and open-source cloud software (OpenStack) and avoiding brand-name vendors and clustering its hardware, KT built a platform for both private and public services that is vendor-independent and easily scalable, Huh says. Pricing today is about 30 percent below what Amazon can offer, and KT is using cluster and automated provisioning, scaling, monitoring and metering.

"KT has its own network and we can provide cheaper and more stable network service than any other players," Huh said. "We have enough experience in managing data processing, and we have already built up the customer's trust."

KT is seeing demand for cloud services from companies offering mobile data applications in South Korea, where the wireless operators offering smartphones have seen a 200 percent to 350 percent increase in mobile data usage.

Huh cited one application -- the Animoto service that creates videos from compilations of user photos on Facebook -- that was so popular it sucked up more than 100 times the usual Amazon EC2 resources. Faced with that kind of demand, companies offering applications and services needed greater access to cheaper computing power delivered by the cloud to address unpredictable usage patterns and spikes.

Contrasting clouds
In contrast to KT's service, SFR, the French alternative telecom operator, built an IT infrastructure using six data centers and 3,000 servers and took what could be considered a more traditional approach to cloud, starting with software-as-a-service offers such as email and website hosting. SFR, which presented alongside vendor HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ), then launched an infrastructure-as-a-service cloud.

That service is built on elements that have traditionally defined a CSP cloud offering, said Laurent Jacquet, marketing director, Hosted Services Business Unit, for SFR. That includes "clear contractual framework, enterprise-level security, cost control and monitoring, improved responsiveness, and a close relationship with our customers."

Colt's Greg Branch, director of IT architecture, offered a view inside a fast-paced deployment of cloud services, launched over a six-month period, that pushed hard at blending the company's IT and network resources into a service that would automate common ordering of components from both sides into a single cloud service. Like SFR, Colt is working to differentiate its cloud services by emphasizing the network integration, and trying to avoid being commoditized.

Working (and presenting) with Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL), Branch explained how Colt strained to resolve core differences between the IT and telecom sides of the house, starting with the basics such as IT's dependence on Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and telecom's ties to the TM Forum 's enhanced Telecom Operations Map (eTOM). At the end, a new order management system was deployed.

"We have new levels of automation we have to achieve for cloud services if we are going to provide end-to-end management of the solution," he said. "We need to be able to take orders that include both the network and IT sides and manage those as a single solution."

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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