Cloud Services

Leading Lights 2018 Finalists: Most Innovative Business Cloud Service

Cloud services are a bit of a mixed bag in the telecom space, as network operators have generally failed to crack the dominance of big cloud operators such as AWS, Google and Microsoft. That hasn't stopped innovation in the cloud arena by telecoms, however, and this year's Leading Lights finalists for Most Innovative Business Cloud Service have shown how they adapt cloud capabilities for their specific markets.

Whether it's making hybrid cloud connections easier for customers or delivering services such as voice or WiFi from the cloud for greater ease and efficiency, the four finalists are all leveraging cloud capabilities to offer a new or better service to businesses. Those finalists are AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) for its Cloud to Cloud feature in AT&T NetBond for Cloud, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) for its Business VoiceEdge, Orange (NYSE: FTE) for Orange Cloud, and Telenet for its WiFi Business Service.

The winners of all 24 Leading Lights awards and the three Women in Comms awards, as well as the identities of this year's Light Reading Hall of Fame inductees, will be announced at the fantabulous Leading Lights dinner/party, which will be held during the evening of Monday, May 14, at the Brazos Hall in Austin, Texas, following a day of pre-BCE workshops. Then, the morning after the awards party, the doors open to this year's Big Communications Event (BCE) at the Austin Convention Center.

Now let's take a closer look at the finalists:

AT&T is a finalist in this category once more for the Cloud to Cloud feature in AT&T NetBond for Cloud, a service which won the 2016 Leading Lights award for Best Carrier Cloud Service. Also, AT&T won the 2017 Leading Lights award for Most Innovative Cloud Service for its ECOMP platform.

With its Cloud to Cloud feature, AT&T integrated the ability to efficiently move workloads across highly secure connections between cloud services in the NetBond for Cloud ecosystem without touching the Internet. This kind of capability becomes critical for businesses as they use multiple public cloud services and need to be able to securely but easily move data among the different applications in a way that doesn't make it more vulnerable. For no additional cost, network managers can use the digital AT&T Cloud Portal to easily managed connections between clouds, including a mix of public, private and hybrid clouds.

The AT&T NetBond for Cloud ecosystem is made up of more than 20 members delivering highly-secure access to more than 130 leading cloud services. It helps businesses by providing scalable network connectivity between clouds in the ecosystem through a fully off-internet service from virtually anywhere.

Comcast Corp.
Comcast continues its aggressive push in the business space, and this year enhanced its cloud-based voice service aimed at businesses, Business VoiceEdge, by adding the ability for users of Microsoft Office 365 and Skype for Business to do click-to-dial telephone numbers to launch secure, reliable calls over the Comcast dedicated VoIP backbone.

This kind of workflow integration is increasingly important to a wide range of business customers, many of whom aren't able to do this for themselves. As a Microsoft Cloud Solutions Provider, Comcast Business brings a dedicated sales force trained on Software as a Service solutions, including Microsoft Office 365, and the ability to help business customers understand the efficiencies gained by interoperability of workflow solutions, especially as the workforce is increasingly distributed and mobile.

Comcast is able to serve as a single vendor for its customers, reducing both complexity and cost of integrated solutions.

Orange Cloud is the most pure-play cloud solution among the finalists in this category. It offers easy-to-use cloud storage for all types of files, including photos, videos, music, files, calendar and contacts, using an automated back-up and secure storage system that has particular appeal for small office-home office businesses. Stored information can be access at any time, from any location via any type of personal computer or mobile device, or shared securely with others.

The service is offered by Orange and its affiliates, as part of another service such as a mobile offering or on a standalone basis. The pricing model is freemium-based, with the first five gigabits of storage offered at no charge and additional paid capacity available after that. Orange affiliates can set up a full in-country storage service to meet data privacy requirements.

Telenet's WiFi Business Service takes a cloud-based approach to solving a growing problem for businesses, especially smaller ones: How to provide the WiFi access customers expect without compromising security or endangering company business access. Many smaller businesses lack the IT expertise to develop a solution on their own, so Telenet, the largest provider of cable broadband services in Belgium, offers a plug and play WiFi Business solution that combines service to the business itself with secure guest connectivity.

Telenet's WiFi Business Service services enable free secure WiFi to up to 50 customers at one time, using a simple settings management tool that prevents guests from accessing the private WiFi service of the business itself. The new service is also already aligned to the impending European privacy guidelines. Businesses can use Telenet's user portal to offer enhanced capabilities to customers as well including Facebook check-in, loyalty programs, and targeted promotions using the analytical data collected.

To find out which companies were shortlisted across all of this year's Leading Lights categories, please check out Leading Lights 2018: The Finalists and Congrats to 2018's WiC Leading Lights Finalists.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

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