5 Takeaways From Carrier Cloud Forum

3:00 PM -- After a full day of talking cloud with 18 industry experts and a crowd of about 150 attendees, the key takeaways are clear:

  • Cloud services are an end-to-end proposition: Enterprises may be willing to buy cloud compute or storage capabilities piecemeal from some providers, but when they turn to telecom players for cloud, they expect cloud to be part of an integrated service that includes transport, professional services and integration expertise, to save IT bucks big time. Doug Junkins, CTO of NTT America Inc. said: "The cloud is not the cloud without the network."

    Cloud customers want disaster recovery and business continuity, security that meets their industry-specific requirements, and elasticity of services in a pay-for-what-you-use cloud model. That last part can be tough to provide, particularly when it comes to access services, Junkins admits, because service providers still need to lease those and turning them up and down is not part of the business model. Mike Palmer, VP product strategy and development for Verizon Enterprise Solutions , says it would be much easier to deliver what customers want if their facilities were more conveniently located on the existing networks.

  • There is still a significant BSS/OSS challenge for cloud: Making MPLS and Carrier Ethernet services into on-demand offers to match the expectations of the cloud crowd is not a simple proposition, nor is adding on-demand capabilities to existing portals.

    There is significant standards work in this area, but it takes time, and time isn't on the side of service providers hoping to compete in cloud this year. That's why vendors are stepping up with managed services solutions and other options, according to Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Ari Banerjee. Expect to see more significant announcements soon in this arena. (See MEF Starts Thinking Cloud.)

  • Cloud reality is not meeting cloud expectations. The big reason for this is that cloud expectations are unrealistic. Small businesses in particular are adopting cloud services faster but are also being disappointed by the results, according to Stefan Bewley, director with Altman Vilandrie & Company .

    Too often, small businesses don't get the savings anticipated or they find they still need internal IT people to handle some integration because cloud is like crime scene investigation: It isn't as easy as it appears on TV. Small businesses also find the variable costs of cloud to be a detriment, not an asset, says James Taylor, CEO of CHR Solutions Inc. They want predictable costs they can manage.

  • Cloud models are proliferating to meet user demand. Pat Adamiak, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) senior director, SP Data Center and Cloud Solutions, proved that point with a graphic that showed how public, private and hybrid clouds actually come in too many flavors to count. On another front, Cisco is making a huge effort to show off how its equipment and applications fare in cloud computing scenarios.

    Multiple panelists reinforced that point and sought to dispel the notion that the choices are cloud services behind the firewall or on the public Internet. One model that I thought would get more discussion was the massively scalable cloud for next-gen Web-based enterprise services, along the lines that Cloudscaling announced last week. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s Toby Ford was a late scratch, however, so details of what that major carrier are doing will wait for another day. AT&T did make another private cloud announcement yesterday, reinforcing the notion that there are many cloud models. (See AT&T, Cloudscaling Open New Cloud Strategy and AT&T Launches a Private Cloud.)

  • Standards? What standards? While enterprises in particular might want to see standards, particularly standard APIs, for cloud services, those aren't yet in place and may not be for some time. Many service providers think it's too early to try hard and fast lines, which might prove limiting later on. Cloudscaling CTO Randy Bias argues that standards are needed now, but also cautions that pre-standard "federating" of clouds is more sham than substance and cloud users shouldn't be fooled.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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