Neil Downing, VP of enterprise solutions and sales operations at Interoute, discusses enterprise cloud and his company’s recent tie-up with Unisys What is the biggest challenge facing cloud providers currently?

Neil Downing: The biggest challenge many cloud providers face today is how they integrate their networks.

With a cloud service built and an audience identified, cloud providers must connect up to the networks in order to deliver their services.

This is no easy task. To do this, they need to buy capacity from different providers, tie together the different layers and topologies, and ensure that maintenance and all Service Level Agreements are up to scratch.

However, it doesn’t stop there. With every network working differently, cloud providers then need to work backwards to master network integration and minimise the cost of moving data around.

As clouds build, this becomes increasingly complex and this can reflect badly in the price for the end product.

What more does the telco industry have to do to provide the market with what it wants from cloud? 

The market wants easy, flexible, on demand capacity from the cloud.

Delivering this means telcos need to change their mentality from long-term contracts to on-demand charging.

However, many currently base their business models on predictable revenue streams so a shift to have customers “pay-as-you-go” takes investment.  

Volume is the key to making the new model work, and will ensure that there are no big gaps in demand.

This isn’t a unique challenge to telcos; many software companies have been facing this shift to a short-term view for a while now and so lessons can be learnt from them.

Telcos are also well placed for providing really robust SLAs that cover the delivery of a cloud service, including both the data centre and the network. This is something that is much harder for cloud providers with no network to do.

Interoute joined forces with Unisys last week to trumpet a complete enterprise cloud solution - what can the market expect from this?

By combining Interoute’s Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) capability, including its Virtual Data Centre (VDC), with Unisys cloud advisory, implementation and management services portfolio, we are offering the corporate market a complete and straightforward end-to-end cloud migration solution.

How is this partnership different to what else is out there on the market?
This partnership allows Interoute and Unisys to be smarter in how they go to market.

For Interoute it allows us to diversify the breadth of solutions our cloud services are used for, for Unisys they get a rapid, scalable and agile computing platform.

By partnering with different IT partners with multiple skills and technologies, Interoute can access the IT partner skills our customers need in a much faster time to market.

What developments do you expect the cloud market to see in the next 12 months?

Cloud providers are going to be focussed on making the world flatter.

Currently, no one cloud provider is truly global in the sense that it has datacentres in every region and is fully connected across the world.

We are going to see increasing numbers and an increasing speed in partnerships forming between continents and cloud providers in order to make the world flat and accessible.

Greater sophistication in the network services offered with cloud computing will broaden its appeal and get it into more mission critical enterprise applications

Small and mid-sized cloud providers will need to work more closely together.

As prices continue to be driven down by the bigger players and demand increases for complete solutions, cloud providers will need to match up their different capabilities into cost-effective, enterprise-ready solutions.

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