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BT/TM Forum demo targets new role for carriers in cloud services

The Cloud Service Broker Catalyst demonstration project aims to define and create a cloud management platform that would enable service providers to connect enterprise customers to different cloud service providers

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A demonstration project involving British Telecom, the TM Forum and others could be a step toward the development of what BT managers are calling a “broker” offering for cloud services.

“BT and other service providers are in a very good position to mediate between up-and-coming cloud service providers and the enterprise customers they have strong relationships with,” said Gary Bruce, lead for BT Catalyst.

The Cloud Service Broker (CSB) Catalyst demonstration project aims to define and create a cloud management platform that would enable service providers to connect enterprise customers to different cloud service providers, such as Amazon and others, depending on the customers’ needs. If for example, an entire cloud were to become inoperative, the platform might enable the customers’ service to be shifted to a competitive cloud. Potentially the platform also could support what Bruce called a “hybrid” offering in which an enterprise runs its own applications but those applications can spill over into a cloud-based service when capacity concerns arise.

Other participants in the CSB project -- which will be demonstrated at Management World 2010 in Nice, France in May -- include Comptel Corporation, Infonova, OpenNMS Group and Square Hoop. Comptel will provide an order portal and active service catalog to manage various components of a service, as well as a service designer to aid in the rapid assembly of cloud services. Infonova will provide a billing catalog and engine aimed at enabling enterprises to be virtual service operators. OpenNMS will provide monitoring services and Square Hoop will be responsible for aggregating product service and billing information for presentation to the customer.

In helping to develop the CSB platform, BT conducted research with enterprise customers to better determine what they wanted from cloud services, Bruce said. A key concern was what he called “vendor lock-in,” which he said seeks an answer to the question “If you’re an enterprise running applications with a particular cloud service provider, how easy is it to move to another cloud provider?”

Today enterprises may find themselves effectively locked into a specific cloud service provider, Bruce said -- a situation he likened to the early days of telecom when providers had to use a specific switch vendor to support a wide range of service options. Developments involving what Bruce called “cloud bursting” aimed at enabling data and applications to shift between clouds could help overcome vendor lock-in, he said.

Other roles of the service broker could include matching enterprise customers to cloud service providers depending on the customers’ requirements for security, flexibility and value-added services, Bruce said.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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