Most Innovative Carrier Cloud Service is a new category for the annual Leading Lights awards, and was introduced to recognize the growing focus in the communication service provider (CSP) sector on cloud services and the ways in which CSPs are innovating in this realm.
In the early days of cloud, innovation involved little else beyond just offering a service, or acquiring a company that did. But carrier cloud services are not proving to be cookie cutter offerings, as our four finalists indicate.
In choosing these finalists, we looked for companies that were responding to market demands in how they tailored their cloud offerings or breaking from the pack in delivering new capabilities or deploying new technologies.
Interestingly, three of the four finalists chose to innovate in how they paired their cloud services and network services, in an effort to make on-demand commodities of both.
You can see the full Leading Lights finalist list here.
Our four Innovative Carrier Cloud Service finalists are:
CenturyLink Inc -- savvisdirect This new service was launched in the fall of 2012, as a combination of CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) assets (fiber optic network resources and data center infrastructure) and the IT and cloud expertise of Savvis, which is part of the CenturyLink empire. Intended to offer self-service pay-as-you-go options for software, infrastructure, platform or storage clouds on an on-demand basis, the service competes directly with Amazon Web Services and other commodity clouds. (See CenturyLink Takes On Amazon in the Cloud.)
With a specially designed user interface, savvisdirect serves up a catalog of standard IT apps including Microsoft Exchange, Sharepoint, and more, on a one-click basis. The service can be the gateway to more sophisticated Savvis cloud services or stand on its own.
CenturyLink had hoped to see more savvisdirect sales than it has so far achieved, but the service is still a bold and innovative move.
NTT Communications -- Enterprise Cloud
This Infrastructure-as-a-Service offering deployed on a more limited basis in May of 2012 but went global in the fall of last year, making it eligible for consideration in this year's Leading Lights. It represents the first private cloud include software defined networking (SDN) so that both the data center and the network services that connect datacenters can be virtualized. (See Ethernet Expo 2012: SDN Is Nothing New at NTT.)
Designed for medium-to-large enterprises, the NTT Enterprise Cloud delivers on-demand cloud services that include everything from computing resources to a global customer portal to VPN connectivity and more across a global infrastructure that includes 11 data centers. The service lets IT managers control their IT resources globally from one portal, and deploy resources as they are needed, including critical disaster recovery capabilities. Colocation, managed hosting, cloud services and service tickets can all be managed from the portal.
By pioneering SDN deployment, NTT Communications Corp. (NYSE: NTT) paved the way for enterprises to begin reaping the full rewards of cloud offerings, making the network service an on-demand feature as well. (See NTT Advances SDN.)
IBM Corp. -- IBM and AT&T Global Cloud Service
This partnership between tech behemoths pairs AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s virtual private networking and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)'s SmartCloud Enterprise, with the addition of AT&T Labs innovation to create a new service based on private networking for enterprises seeking higher level of security and availability than public clouds can deliver.
The AT&T Labs piece creates the secure integration of IBM's SmartCloud with AT&T's VPN service, so that enterprises can easily, reliably and securely move information and applications between their own private clouds and the IBM and AT&T Global Cloud Service. Enterprises can connect to wired or wireless computing devices including tablets, smartphones, PCs, retail kiosks or other machine-to-machine devices over AT&T's VPN, for greater security and reliability. Those network services can also be deployed dynamically and in an automated fashion as needed, rather than through manual changes, which take longer.
Level 3 Communications Inc. - Carrier Cloud Voice How can a voice service be innovative? This one aims to let both fixed and mobile service providers compete with over-the-top voice providers by completely outsourcing their voice services to Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT) and its partner, cloud voice provider Alianza Corp.
Instead of operating their own voice networks, these service providers deliver voice services -- which are still critical to a service bundle, if not profitable -- for a much lower cost per user. Level 3 provides a well-established U.S. local voice network, its VoIP number and interconnection platform, and interconnections with other carriers, while Alianza offers the voice cloud platform that includes a set of application programming interfaces back into the back office systems of service providers for billing and bundle integration purposes. (See Voice Crunch Elevates Alianza.)
What do you think of our first crop of innovative cloud services finalists? Feel free to weigh in on the message boards below and even suggest alternatives.
The Leading Lights winners and latest Hall of Fame inductees will be revealed at the Leading Lights awards dinner, which will be held during the evening of Tuesday, October 1 at the way-too-hip-for-me The Out hotel in New York City. (For more details, see Leading Lights 2013.)
Us old folks will hit the hay early, so we're not bleary eyed the next morning at the Ethernet & SDN Expo, which takes place at the Javits Center, NYC, on October 2–3. (Details and the agenda are on our show site, Ethernet & SDN Expo.)
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading
Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to Ethernet & SDN Expo, a Light Reading Live event that takes place on October 2-3, 2013 at the Javits Center in New York City. Co-located with Interop, Light Reading's Ethernet & SDN Expo will focus on how the convergence of Carrier Ethernet 2.0 with emerging carrier software defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) technologies could change the whole telecom landscape for service providers. For more information, or to register, click here.