Cloud/network integration

Tom Nolle/CIMI Corp.
30 May 2011

Network operators are as interested in cloud computing as third-party cloud services providers - perhaps even more so - but the way the cloud and the network come together is of special interest to operators.

With more than a trillion dollars invested in networks worldwide, operators are understandably focused on how the cloud can help monetize the enormous network asset base. Three business drivers lay behind the focus on cloud/network integration, and they will likely drive deployment in both the cloud and the network in the future.

Driver 1: A desire to provide hosted services to businesses and consumers based on a scalable IT architecture in terms of both capital and operations costs. These services should leverage the connectivity (particularly broadband) available to business and residential users. Since this segment is only marginally profitable, the services should also help raise ARPU and profit per customer.

Cloud computing is a way of “hosting” add-on services without resorting to the traditional server model that would put users at risk of a service failure should their assigned resource fail. The cloud, while not automatically more resilient than traditional architectures, can be made resilient and highly available through proper implementation, and the techniques are well understood and supported by IT vendors. The connection of cloud computing into network services is also well understood and supported.

Cloud Computing as a Service is an example of a hosted service, and nearly all network operators are interested in providing cloud computing as a service. But they point out that their broad customer base of consumers and SMBs is more likely to consume a hosted service like security or management than buy cloud computing. For network operators, services with a broad opportunity base are particularly appealing.

Driver 2: Monetize content distribution, including content delivery, media transcoding and rights management.Verizon’s Digital Media Services (VDMS) is an example of a content monetization strategy offered as a service to content owners and partners.

Content monetization has many functional elements, and creating an operations framework in which these elements can run reliably and at scale is critical. Cloud computing is seen as such a framework, and since content monetization projects are already creating deployments, operators are committed to finding an IT hosting approach immediately.

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