How telcos could conquer the cloud
Cloud computing holds enormous potential for telecom service providers if they get aggressive about driving technological innovation there
Still, several sources say telecom equipment vendors are lagging behind in the race to drive cloud-enabling technology.
"The vendors are all kind of at first base at best," said Dave Schaeffer, chief executive officer of Cogent Communications, a prolific supplier of network bandwidth to data centers. "They're very embryonic in this."
Thus far, telecom equipment vendors have focused too much on the mere connectivity aspects of the cloud, Nolle said, and not enough on a more holistic view toward its most important property: the efficiency with which resources are allocated for, and consumed by, applications.
"The network is the connection fabric that builds the cloud for cloud computing, but a bunch of servers on a network and a cloud are distinguished from one another by the effectiveness with which you can allocate the resources from the pool to support the mission of the application -- that's the key ingredient," Nolle said. "Just because I can connect to a resource in Singapore that's half the price doesn't mean that if I put it into this application, I'll get a satisfactory performance. Like in origami, gluing pieces together to create something is definitely essential to a cohesive structure, but having some notion of what the hell you're trying to build is even more essential."
Even those most recent innovations in data-center telecom equipment are weakest when it comes to the process of smart, efficient resource allocation that Nolle says is the most important aspect of cloud computing – a function he calls "brokerage."
Some of the biggest names in cloud computing – such as Amazon.com and Salesforce.com – got there quickly by blazing a trail in brokerage. Amazon.com's Elastic Compute Cloud service (aka EC2) – beta trialed last August and available since October – is sold in units of virtual machinery the company calls "instances" that users can easily and dynamically turn up and down, paying only for what they consume. Amazon uniquely divides clouds into regions and availability zones, and it uniquely employs a concept called "elastic IP," which sits in the gap between static and dynamic IP. Meanwhile, Salesforce.com, another cloud pioneer, developed a proprietary system so efficient that it is able to serve more than 55,000 enterprise customers – 1.5 million individuals – using only 1,000 servers. (And since it is mirrored, the true usage is closer to 500 servers, or 1 per every 110 enterprises.) And both Amazon and Salesforce.com achieved these results with essentially no more advantage over telecom service providers than their own ambition and aggressiveness.
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© 2013 Penton Media Inc.
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