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| Interview

Operators own the most important pieces of the real cloud; the infrastructure. I don’t mean just the communication lines, but peering agreements, and all the support structures and

contracts with customers. Manuel Gallo, director of global carrier cloud business development at NEC

not about his power. And decisions are easier and much faster —it’s a matter of business survival, rather than power.” So given the obvious benefits of business-

es moving to the cloud, and given that the barriers can be overcome, how can carriers best go about providing these services to their customers? The answer is in forming partnerships with application vendors. Historically, most carriers have had a small number of partnerships with players such as antivirus firms or office applica- tion vendors. Those partnerships were, in general, close relationships between the carrier and the application vendor. Now though, operators cannot make a huge impact on customers by just offering two or three services or applications, they have to many more partners because they have many different customers, target seg- ments and verticals to address, so there is a broad range of applications and services that they need to offer. “Carriers need to integrate partner systems into their own systems and adding new services to their carrier offering could take between 12 to 18 months. This is far too long,” says Gallo. “They do need part- ners, there’s no doubt about that, because operators are not software developers; they cannot develop all of their services. But they need a fast time to market, and they need a wide portfolio.” Operators can slash the time it takes to bring cloud services to their customers by

using the partnership aggregator concept, argues Gallo. This is a concept that helps operators become an “end-to-end cloud services broker”. It involves NEC provid- ing, not only the cloud services broker platform, the technical tools to make cloud service deployment easier, but also the ag- gregation of services. “From the carrier perspective, they can get one strategic agreement with NEC, one single point of contact for business or for technical purposes, and we take care of the integration,” explains Gallo. NEC would also take care of all the

carrier-customer contracts, negotiations and invoices between service providers and operators. By doing this with a range of operators, NEC is developing cloud services catalogues with hundreds of different ap- plications and services inside that carriers can provide to their customers. “If they want to add any services, they can request it from us, and we will take care of negotiating the contracts, performing the technical integration, and make it available to the carrier in their cloud services broker system, in their market place, in an average time of six weeks.” And he advises operators looking to broaden their cloud offerings to avoid being bound by the rules set out in the IT industry. For example, the US National Institute for Standards and Technologies has defined only three categories of cloud service: Software-as-a-Service (Saas),

Mobile Communications International | Cloud Supplement 2012

Platform-as-a-Service (Paas) and Infra- structure-as-a-Service (IaaS). This is too IT- influenced an approach, argues Gallo, as if you take into account operators’ strengths, several major categories are overlooked. There is no mention of communications as a service, for example, or unified comms as a service, M2M, security as a service—cate- gories that are very important for carriers’ businesses. “The key message to operators for cloud services is that they are not IT companies, they cannot behave like an IT company and take the same approach. As a carrier, many are feeling they are followers in the cloud— but the reality is that they are the most important part of the actual cloud,” he says. “They own the most important pieces of the real cloud; the infrastructure. I don’t mean just the communication lines, but peering agreements, and all the support structures and contracts with customers, and they even have the trust of customers.” Therefore, carriers should focus on ad- dressing the customers they have today and let their partners focus on the applications that are required. “As a carrier, don’t think about Saas, PaaS

or IaaS, think about your market segments: residential, SoHo , SME and large business, Gallo advises. “Don’t think about the stand- ard category definitions by the IT industry and focus on your own sales and marketing, forget about everything else, as you can rely on your partners for that.”


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