Building a dual-purpose cloud

Tom Nolle/CIMI Corp.
30 Mar 2011

We’ve been bombarded with cloud computing services terms that describe many types of services that can be offered through the cloud. For network operators, the challenge with multifaceted clouds is that they have a variety of business drivers. The catch is that if different drivers push cloud computing infrastructure in incompatible directions, the consequences could be dire for service providers’ capital and operations expenses, as well as for ROI.

Unlike enterprise clouds, this diversity of business drivers requires service provider clouds to function as platforms for traditional OSS/BSS and internal IT, as platforms to host features and content and as platforms for cloud services for different groups of customers -- enterprises, SMBs and consumers. Virtually every operator would have a different balance of need/opportunity in each of these areas.

In addition to offering cloud services including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), Database as a Service and Hosting as a Service, internally, network operators are also giant IT consumers themselves. That means they build data centers not only for OSS/BSS and traditional applications, but for hosting content and features.

Network operators have most of the same concerns as enterprises about cloud computing infrastructure efficiency, application performance and even “cloudsourcing” to third parties, which means that operators are shifting their IT investment from an internal fulfillment strategy to one hosted in the cloud. For this supply-side vision of cloud migration, the best course is often dictated by the cloud strategies supported by the major IT vendors, just as it is for enterprises.

Yet the issue of business and network transformation represents a special challenge for service providers -- restructuring their network infrastructure to meet changing revenue goals and new service targets. Five years from now, most operators will be earning the majority of their revenues from sources that were minimal or non-existent contributors five years before.

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