European operators are, it appears, still very much feeling their way when it comes to cloud services.
At the TM Forum Management World event in Dublin, two operators – Telefonica Digital and TeliaSonera – outlined their latest thinking in this emerging field.
Despite the new TD website declaring that it is “working to provide the best cloud services”, Juan Canibano, head of IasS and PaaS at the London-based outfit, claimed they did not even use the term “cloud” internally.
Instead, he likened the cloud to a huge supermarket in which end users would be able to pick a range of different services from a range of different providers.
Canibano described the TD approach as being wide in scope, incorporating fixed and mobile networks as well as private, public and hybrid cloud models.
Last month, TD announced that it had successfully completed a pilot trial, in partnership with Intel, of a hybrid cloud service.
It said it would enable enterprises to move data from a local private cloud to a TD-provided public cloud to meet temporary spikes in demand and optimize data centre capacity without portability or interoperability issues.
The company’s emerging cloud portfolio is “person-centric” and anchored by virtual data centres, Canibano continued.
It also includes fast-track virtual servers, storage, Telefonica’s Terabox service as well as apps.
Canibano demonstrated one of the company’s new apps, Dual Persona, which allows users to switch between their personal and corporate profiles on their mobile devices with just one touch.
But are TD’s cloud initiatives profitable? No, they’re not admitted Canibano.
However, Keith Willetts, chairman of the TM Forum, told European Communications that making money from cloud was “not relevant” at this point in time.
“This preoccupation with finding the next billion dollar business is a problem as it has led to complacency,” he said.
“Operators don’t need to make profits immediately, what they need to do is experiment.”
Willetts said operators needed to learn the lessons of Google, Facebook and Apple.
“They are all about growing first and monetizing second, which is critical in the emerging digital services space.”
This cultural change is something that Teliasonera’s head of cloud services, Soren Nyckelgard, knows all about.
He outlined the restructuring that the Scandinavian-based operator has made in the last few years to ensure they are well placed to profit from cloud.
The company has settled on being a cloud service broker, Nyckelgard said.
Internally, it has implemented a shared integration point for all of the clouds controlled by the company’s various businesses that are spread across 15 countries.
From this shared point, cloud services can be rolled out more effectively and more cheaply, according to Nyckelgard.
These changes were not cheap, but transforming the mindset of “traditional telco employees” and how they work were perhaps greater challenges.
Crucially, Teliasonera’s board got right behind the transformation from the outset.
“I was surprised it was so well received by senior management,” admitted Nyckelgard.
However, he fudged a question on whether TeliaSonera was making any money from its new model – we can therefore assume not.
Moving forward, experts agree that vertical markets appear to offer operators with the best chance of succeeding in cloud.
“The biggest opportunity is delivering cloud services in vertical markets, particularly where operators can overlap with M2M services,” said Oracle’s Gordon Rawling.
Willets agrees, citing healthcare and energy as two sectors with the biggest potential.
“For operators, profitable cloud opportunities really revolve around the enterprise market,” he said.
“However, we have to be realistic and say a large number of them won’t succeed.”