Cloud enablement

Savvis Exec Argues Against Cloud Standards

The man who has been the cloud computing guru at Savvis (Nasdaq: SVVS) says the telecom industry shouldn't rush to standardize cloud services, for risk of shutting down innovation.

Larry Steele, vice president of software as a service (SaaS) at Savvis, says that tying cloud services to transport services is a natural next step, and most likely a positive one, unless telecom operators try to create standardized cookie-cutter approaches to delivering cloud services. (Savvis struck a deal Wednesday to be acquired by CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) -- see CenturyLink Clouds Up With Savvis Buy.)

"When I start hearing about cloud brokers and cloud standards, I get nervous, because I think there is still so much innovation that has to happen," Steele says. "This is becoming a services world -- that is where competition is, and that is where innovation still needs to happen."

Savvis has been integrating its network offerings with its SaaS business for some time, and it's finding that CIOs like the combination, because it further reduces the complexity with which they wrestle, Steele says. Becoming part of a telecom service provider takes that a step further.

Steele believes that the key to competing in cloud services lies in the continual change that comes with having to win customers' hearts month by month. Service providers will have to work harder if cloud services remain a pay-as-you-go option, without long-term contracts to lock in customers.

"That's the thing you are fighting for, and that's where your risk comes in," Steele says.

Steele doesn't think a model exists to accurately compare the long-term cost of cloud-based offerings with the old model of licensing software, building out infrastructure and managing the whole thing. That hasn't stopped cloud skeptics from saying that, in the long run, the cloud model could actually look more expensive.

Which is why, he argues, the service itself must continually meet and exceed enterprise expectations not just for features and functions but for quality, reliability and security.

An enterprise that is constantly upgrading its infrastructure, doing security patches and managing all the piece parts doesn't have time to innovate, Steele argues, but cloud services done right can bring the latest and greatest to the enterprise doorstep.

"It's one of the reasons I think that as many things as you can put in the cloud, you should be putting in the cloud," Steele says.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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