Why carriers must

The emergence of cloud computing and its exploding interest among enterprise IT shops will force carriers and service providers to adapt or risk being relegated to the position of “commodity provider,” according to the head of Cogeco Data Services.

Speaking at a session during the Canadian Telecom Summit in Toronto, Cogeco Data Services President Tony Ciciretto referred to the current IT landscape as a “redefining moment” for telecom carriers and network service providers. He said that these organizations need to utilize the products, services and expertise at their disposal to help their enterprise clients truly benefit from the cloud.

“Carriers and network service providers will have to evolve to become trusted guides for the enterprise to move to the cloud or risk becoming irrelevant,” he told conference attendees. He added that the move to cloud also means service providers have to operate in an app-driven environment.

“They can’t simply offer access and let the chips fall where they may,” Ciciretto said.

To pull this off, Cogeco Data Services hopes carriers and service providers will collaborate more with customers and look beyond their traditional organizational structures. Ciciretto said the network is “just a foundation,” pointing to the work of British Telecom’s “open broadband” initiative, which offers developers simple APIs to build apps that work in harmony with the company’s broadband lines.

In addition to network service providers, executives from major tech vendors attended the cloud computing-focused session to drive home the need for more collaboration and innovation in the IT service provider space.

Victor Garcia, CTO at HP Canada, said his company’s “Open Marketplace” vision aims to help cloud service providers craft the services they want for the customers they want to target.

“The whole idea of the cloud is we’re going to use less hardware and use it smartly,” he said. Garcia added that the company is recognizing that is the future and shifting from a provider of hardware to a provider of services.

Brian Kracik, director of worldwide telecommunications markets for Oracle Inc., said telecom executives are facing several big challenges. He classified them into several keywords: transformation, convergence, partnering, customers, flexibility and the cloud.

Kracik encouraged telcos to continue pushing toward automated provisioning of their networks and building out mobile services. “You have to figure it out otherwise the network just continues to be that bit pipe,” he said.

He added that carriers should put more emphasis on their impressive security record, pointing out that big telcos like Bell Canada or AT&T are never in the news for their security or data breaches.

“You never hear of a telco being hacked,” Kracik said. “Take advantage of that.”

Kracik also highlight a recent move by the organizers behind the Indianapolis 500, who decided to move the live video stream of their annual race to a public cloud.

“They moved it from a capital expenditure to an operating expenditure and reduced their costs by over 40 per cent,” he said, adding that “looking at what your customers are doing” and helping them is the most effective way to take advantage of the cloud bandwagon.

From a service provider perspective, Ciciretto advised vendors to move away from “one-size fits all” packages and toward industry and vertical-specific solutions.

“Collaborate with us and customers to make sure you’re part of that evolution,” he said.

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