Studies started in year:
 Projects and Studies


Networks for cloud computing and software-as-a-service: weaknesses, strengths and opportunities for operators
For further information please contact:

Adam Kapovits
Programme Manager
Wieblinger Weg 19/4
69123 Heidelberg, Germany

Project Information
What is this Project about?

This study concerns the role of networks in cloud computing and software-as-a-service (SaaS). It can be placed in the context of the search for an adequate computing model, the design and evolution IT and network service platforms. The idea of computing as utility, which has been proposed the first time in 1966 [1] appears today to lead to a key computing service model of the future. SaaS may be seen as a realization of computing as utility at the application level. Compute clouds may be seen as a realization of computing as utility at the platform level, taking advantage of grid computing and recent advances in virtualization. Compute clouds provide the execution layer software for SaaS. The move to SaaS and cloud computing is an important step towards the era of dematerialized computing systems. Benefits are expected regarding the TCO and operations of IT assets, through sharing and improved usage. These benefits lead to the reduction of OPEX and CAPEX dedicated to IT.

Computing as a utility is a long term vision, and SaaS and cloud computing are two major steps towards the realisation of this vision. SaaS allows generalizing online access to software on the Web, which started to be popular with services like search engines. Cloud computing refers to computing techniques to develop SaaS applications over the Internet, as well as hardware and software systems in datacenters providing these services. Cloud computing capitalized on technology developments such as platform and server virtualization, grid computing and middleware, high-performance computing (HPC) applications that use large datasets and the related computing assets, automated system management tools. The set of software and hardware systems supporting these SaaS-like services are usually referred to as datacenters. Cloud computing can be considered a second important step towards computing as a utility, which focuses on platform technologies and distributed computing to generalize computing as a utility.

Cloud computing and SaaS have the potential to impact the Telco and IT industry, at-least vis-à-vis of communication infrastructure and opportunities offered to those industrials to extend their offers. By combining the role of application service provider (ASP) and SaaS network service provider (NSS) Telcos may have the opportunity to control an important part of the SaaS market. Also, by mastering the virtualization, resource aggregation and distributed computing service provision activity, Telcos may play an even more important role. When put together, the market of SaaS and cloud computing services may drive the future of Telcos and IT services. The mastering (or not) of this emerging service area and related technologies may have a significant impact on their future. Therefore, it is important to conduct a study to understand technological implications, market considerations and the positions Telcos should take.

Cloud networking initiatives are emerging from the industry with the intention do develop network equipment, architecture and protocols adapted to the cloud. Although experts consider networking technologies to be key for the future of cloud computing and SaaS, to our knowledge the involvement of Telcos has so far been quite limited. The network service provider role may be important for cloud computing and SaaS. The business role may be deeply impacted, and even modified by these emerging service domains. We already notice the presence of new players, who may be future competitors, with the potential to bring major changes in the networking and IT ecosystem. Important opportunities and/or changes in tariffs and sources of revenues may come from the modification of business roles, and emerging cloud and SaaS networks. Therefore, it is important to initiate a coordinated action among Telcos. Conducting such a study may be a first step towards the adequate positioning in the cloud computing and SaaS market.

What are the main objectives of this Project?

  • Provide a description of the state of art in  cloud computing and SaaS concepts, agreement on definition and focussing on terminology

  • Describe technologies contributing to cloud computing and SaaS, establish the relations between these domains, in particular

  • virtualisation and scalable datacenters

  • high performance computing and communications, including technical consequences of distributed storage of large datasets

  • clusters and grids and middleware technologies

  • systems and network management, especially autonomics

  • Identify key advantages and disadvantages (if any) of the position of a network service provider in the cloud computing and SaaS business.

  • Identify research problems, missing standards, industrial initiative and developments related to the use of network services (including mobile networks) in cloud computing and SaaS,

  • Identify key roles for (fixed and mobile) network operators in the cloud computing and SaaS industry and provide recommendation on the most strategic positions.


[1] Parkhill, D., The Challenge of the Computer Utility, Addison Wesley Educational Publishers Inc. US, 1966


Project Results
Deliverable Title  No Issue date
Cloud computing and software-as-a-service: concepts, technologies, and ecosystem D1 December 2009
Operator's strengths, gaps and opportunities relating to cloud computing and software-as-a-service D2 2010
Operator's position towards cloud computing and software-as-a-service (PowerPoint presentation) D3 2010