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Table of contents
of the current issue

Selected Highlights
An introduction to cloud computing

Telco perspective
on cloud

applications on a
federated cloud


Mobile cloud


Telco perspective on cloud computing

Eurescom study P1951

Drissa Houatra
Orange Labs

Eurescom study P1951 has analysed the cloud computing service delivery model and the related service offerings. We focused mainly on Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, and Software as a Service. The study aimed to understand how cloud services will impact the future of IT and networking, the evolution required for telecom networks and datacenters to enable cloud service delivery, and the strategic positioning of telcos in the new business environment. The technical analysis, combined with a better understanding of the cloud service business, allowed us to identify emerging research and standardization topics, shape the evolution of telecom networks and datacenters, identify emerging businesses and provide recommendations for telcos. 

By analysing the impact of cloud computing on IT and networking, we have identified a set of open research and standardization problems. We have also studied the need for telecom assets to evolve to meet requirements brought up by cloud services. We were able to position telcos in the cloud service environment with a SWOT  analysis ((strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats), key strategic choices, and recommendations. In light of this study, the cloud service environment appears to be largely favourable to telcos, with the potential to play a key role in the operations of cloud infrastructures, the possibility to add value to existing services and explore new services.  

IT research and standardisation
Further research is needed regarding cloud services security, data location and privacy issues, datacenter management and automation, software licensing, programming tools and techniques for high-performance distributed computing in virtualised environments, open and interoperable clouds, and many others. These efforts concern almost any organization involved in IT and the networking industry, including technology research and developers, those operating these technologies to offer services, and those using these technologies and services. 

Commonly agreed cloud standards are critical for the adoption of cloud services by telcos. Several initiatives are under way to create open and interoperable clouds, which support the seamless migration of cloud applications and data from one provider to another and can be programmed via standard APIs. 

Evolution of networks and datacenters
Telcos have a major technical and investment advantage with their existing service infrastructure, which can be used to support cloud services. However, in most cases telcos need to adapt their networks and datacenters. For some specific properties, telcos need to conduct research, establish collaborations with the networking and distributed computing research communities, and develop novel standards. Examples for actions telcos need to undertake to strengthen their competitive advantage are:

  • Transform their datacenter networks into a LAN-based distributed system, with reliable high-speed and direct communications between servers.

  • Adopt network and server technologies that will enhance server scalability.

  • Develop techniques to reduce latencies and guarantee delays.

Telcos in the cloud service environment
Telcos can use their global network and service management expertise to stimulate R&D on new techniques for the global management of telecom clouds. This can lead to securing cloud services with a more holistic approach towards security threats, and to ensuring the dependability of cloud infrastructure services. In addition, existing telco businesses can be augmented with cloud services to add value to the existing. However, there is a need to study which services can benefit from being transferred into the cloud. Some key elements emerging from the SWOT analysis are:

  • Strength: the existence of a strong market position and customer base,

  • Weakness: difficulties for telcos to innovate in software and their lack of agility,

  • Opportunity: the use of Telco assets for cloud services,

  • Threat: operators’ role may be squeezed to become a mere bit-pipe business.

Cloud computing will generate demand for dependable and low-latency distributed computing services. The needs to further investigate end-to-end latency reduction, especially for critical applications and high-performance computing, and to develop open and interoperable clouds are of primary importance. Telcos need to adapt their networks and datacenters, establish collaborations with the networking and distributed computing research communities, conduct research and develop novel standards to enable the coverage of the full spectrum of cloud services. 

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