Cloud enablement

Leading Lights Finalists: Telecom Services, Pt. I

12:15 PM -- The Leading Lights awards finalists have been announced, so now we're putting a bit more flesh on the bones of our shortlists. (See Light Reading's 2011 Leading Lights Finalists.)

So here's a bit more on some of the entries that made the cut in the Best New Service or Application (Telecom) category, where hosted services and Carrier Ethernet offerings dominated. Here we delve into the hosted finalists, while part II will look at the Ethernet and exchange finalists.

In no particular order…

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s Office 365 service (in partnership with telecom operators). The software giant has tried so hard to be a heavy hitter in many different sectors of the communications market over the years, with varying degrees of success. Now it has a more collaborative approach to the market and that shows in the Office 365 service, which can be bought through multiple service providers that are supporting the hosted applications with their billing and customer support services. (The service is available in 40 countries and in 20 languages currently.) This is a grown-up cloud service based on grown-up strategy. (See Microsoft Calls On Telcos for Office 365, UPC Targets SMEs With Office 365, NTT Com Adds Office 365 to Its Cloud, Orange on Board Office 365 Bandwagon and The Other Microsoft.)

  • Orange Business Services 's Business Together. It's the cloud again but, again, in the proper sense -- users decide which applications they use and when, paying only for what they use. In this instance the applications on offer are unified communications -- to be more precise, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)'s Hosted Collaboration Solution (messaging, conferencing, document sharing, and so on) -- made available in five pre-set profiles to match the differing needs of users. Orange Business Services knows that if these services are to be any use they have to come with high-level availability, which is why it is utilizing the global data center capabilities of its partnership with SITA to deliver this service, which it already uses internally. (See Orange Fluffs Up UC Cloud and Cloud Plans Need IT/Telco Unity.)

  • Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s iCloud. This is how the operators wish they could do it. No synching to PCs involved here, just a wireless connection (including Wi-Fi) to "the cloud" and the synching of apps and capabilities across multiple iOS devices. Of course it's not perfect -- you can't stream content and it's all about Apple, so not multiplatform. But it has set the bar in terms of mass hosted content access capabilities. (See Apple's iCloud Lets Wi-Fi Take the Strain and Apple's iCloud: Where Are the Telcos?)

  • KT Corp. 's U Cloud. The Korean incumbent's offer may not be the iCloud, but it plays to the strengths of a large network operator that, well, knows how to run a network. Basically, KT decided to appeal to customers that already trust it as a provider of carrier-class services by combining network muscle, commodity hardware, open-source software, and automated provisioning and management to create a service that the carrier is marketing as being way cheaper (30-60 percent) than equivalent offers from Amazon Web Services Inc. . (See Mgmt World: KT Puts Commodity Spin on Cloud and KT Uses More Cloud.com.)

    Tomorrow we'll look at the shortlisted offers from XConnect Global Networks Ltd. , CENX Inc. and Sidera Networks Inc. .

  • Don't forget: Leading Lights winners will be announced at an Awards Dinner at Hudson Terrace in New York City on Nov. 8, following the first day of Light Reading's Ethernet Expo Americas 2011 event.

    — Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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