Cloudy Skies or silver linings?

Cloud has been much talked about but implementations have been slow to take off. Operators view cloud as a way to build on their relationships and revenues with end users, particularly major enterprises. Cloud initially appears to provide a way forward for CSPs as voice and SMS revenues go into decline and OTT operators challenge them over data income streams.

A number of reasons have been suggested as to why operators appear to be making a slow start with cloud services offerings. These include customers not being ready, operators taking a long time to build cloud services, poor marketing, and unclear benefits to customers.

Some CSPs also appear to be unclear whether they are targeting enterprise or general consumers as prime customers for cloud services. Some are trying to do both with the same services.

In the consumer segment, while some CSPs have dithered, generic OTT cloud operators such as Dropbox, which offers basic consumer- and SME-orientated services have been fast to build awareness. One can’t help wondering too whether operators have been disheartened by their failure in many cases to compete successfully with the West Coast US OTT giants in areas such as music streaming, video content, social networking and email services.

While things may be bad in the consumer cloud space, they are potentially worse in the enterprise sector. Many operators appear to be failing to realise the extent to which they are also competing against traditional IT vendors and system integrators.

Many of these have a lower cost base, are faster to act, are more responsive to the needs of enterprise clients and have more personal relationships with customers.

There were possible signs at Cloud World Forum in London this week that some of these issues may be changing and operators are at long last getting more serious about Cloud services. However, there is a long way to go, particularly with regard to cost.

A potential solution to one of the key challenges comes from Hungarian company Neostratus, formerly CE On-demand. The Cloud-in-a-Box claims to be able to massively reduce the implementation period from 18 month to 3 months for network operators.

The company claims this is a first; CTO Andras Tudos notes: “The customer gets a complete pre-tested, ready-to-run solution where only minor customer-specific customizations and integration might be required, most of which can be prepared before shipping in a test environment. The Cloud in a Box platforms include complete remote operation and support provided by Neostratus, while IBM is providing the hardware support, which includes quick replacement of failed parts on-site.”

If true it is of interest. Whether it is enough to overcome the other disadvantages CSPs appear to be placing in their path remains to be seen.

Neostratus, meanwhile, is not betting the entire enterprise on operators alone. The partnership with IBM is initially for CEE & Russia but there are plans to move further afield. While Neostratus are strongly focused on CSPs they also intend marketing the product directly to leading enterprise customers.

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