Window on WANs

Dec 9 2009   5:04PM GMT

Lions and the lambs: Enterprise/telecom carriers to work on cloud services together

Kate Gerwig Kate Gerwig Profile: Kate Gerwig

Large enterprises and telecom service providers working together for the common benefit of cloud computing service adoption? Imagine that.

To bring it about, the TM Forum announced a new role for itself -– the middle-person of its new cloud services buyer’s council — this week at its Management World Americas conference in Orlando. The point of the new Enterprise Cloud Buyers Council (ECBC) is to make sure telecom providers are listening to what enterprises need in terms of public, private and hybrid cloud services and technologies. The council also plans to form focused groups for specific vertical markets like financial services or pharmaceuticals because of their unique needs.

Because the cloud is such a highly hyped issue, the TM Forum’s Eric Pullier, executive director of the ECBC, said he wants working groups to get familiar with the realities and challenges of cloud computing services so they can present a solid business model. It may come as a surprise to enterprise IT, but as the cloud model takes hold, IT groups will find themselves as one of the competitors vying to provide services to the corporation.

“One of [the] suppliers is themselves. IT groups didn’t have to be competitive before, but now there’s a new economic setup,” Pullier said.

Two heavy-hitting enterprises — Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Deutsche Bank — have signed on to represent the buyers’ side of the cloud-services equation. Commonwealth Bank moved to a Platform as a Service (PaaS) model for its company almost two years ago and has seen costs plummet to 40% of what they would have been for maintaining individual application silos for different divisions of the company. On the sellers’ side is a virtual who’s who of telecom provider, equipment vendor and solutions provider players, including AT&T, BT, Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, EMC, HP, IBM, Microsoft and Nokia Siemens Networks.

In particular, the group will attempt to create common product definitions; identify security challenges, equipment interoperability and data portability issues that would prevent provider lock-in; deliver provider benchmarking tools and studies; forecast buyer demand; and delve into advanced issues like federated cloud storage and cloud service level agreements (SLAs).

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