Cloud enablement

Mgmt World: It's the Network, Smartie

8:05 AM -- DUBLIN -- Management World 2011 -- Take a bow, telecom network. You are the "unsung superhero of modern commerce."

And the network is still the way AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) plans to differentiate itself in the Internet realm, says CMO Kevin Peters. In a high-energy keynote speech here that seemed to even leave him breathless at times, Peters made the argument that the network is embedded in cloud services and an inexorable part of how they will be provided.

This is not the network of "pipes and ports," he emphasized, but -- borrowing from AT&T's current ad campaign -- much more like a geodesic dome of connected computing nodes with inherent intelligence and mesh network reliability and survivability. In Peters' view, the network is a key part of making virtualization possible by giving access to shared resources with the power of dedicated.

But Peters also stressed the need for telecom service providers to "co-create with our customers" -- i.e., solve specific business problems, and then efficiently use each of those solutions as a case study for future customers.

He didn't dwell on how a telecom behemoth manages to compete with the likes of Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) in the cloud space, other than to hint at partnering with "frenemies" when needed.

Peters, who last spoke at TMF's Management World when he was in operations at AT&T, also commented after his speech that his closest working relationship at AT&T is with CTO John Donovan, as the carrier more closely links its technology investment and development with its customer-facing processes. (See CTIA 2011: AT&T's Donovan Backs Innovation Through Openness.)

One thing Peters might want to drop from future speeches is the reference to the fact that most of AT&T's customers now carry three mobile devices. The first thought that popped into my mind was that, if one of those is an iPhone, the other is likely to be the phone on which voice calls are made -- on someone else's network.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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