Turning Telcos into Cloud Providers

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    The world’s telecommunications carriers are set on becoming cloud providers as well, and the enterprise is the prime customer.

    With abstract networking technologies like SDN, NFV and OpenStack on the table, telcos are quickly building the kind of flexibility into their networks that support agile delivery of a wide range of cloud services. At the same time, they are partnering with service providers, software developers, infrastructure vendors and anyone else who can round out their offerings to provide full software-defined data center (SDDC) platforms at scale.

    In the U.S., both Verizon and AT&T are vying to become the dominant figure in cloud networking services. Verizon recently inked a deal with Oracle to provide interconnect services to improve latency across distributed hybrid architectures. According to ZDnet, Verizon will link its Secure Cloud Interconnect with Oracle’s FastConnect platform to provide pre-provisioned resources on-demand and enable the kind of rapid connectivity required of highly dynamic data environments. The system will be overseen by Verizon’s Dynamic Network Manager that maintains connectivity between traditional IT resources and public clouds from AWS, Microsoft, Google and others.

    For its part, AT&T is working with AWS, IBM and other giants with an eye toward advanced security, IoT and other scale-out applications. As telco analyst Patrick Donegan noted to Light Reading, the combination of web-scale service providers and carrier-class network services enables distributed data architectures to finally meet enterprise performance requirements in terms of speed, scale, agility and application diversity. AWS was already tied to AT&T’s NetBond cloud connection service, but the new agreement provides greater integration between cloud services and networking, providing for a more unified environment that can be easily provisioned and dynamically scaled.

    Overseas, Japan’s NTT Communications has teamed up with Vantis and Microware to launch an Enterprise Cloud Marketplace in Hong Kong that enables a wide range of enterprise service options. The goal is to provide organizations with the ability to establish “cloud-first” deployment models for key functions such as ERP, CRM and Business Intelligence. The platform relies on NTT’s global data center and network infrastructure to integrate hosted vSphere or Hyper-V private clouds with multitenant OpenStack cloud services, all running atop an SDN-based Layer-2 networking architecture. Vantis and Microware will provide consulting and management services to enable seamless continuity and support.

    Telco-based cloud delivery is expected to be such a strong growth market that many IT vendors are starting to tailor their development and channel support efforts in that direction. HPE and Samsung recently joined forces to provide integrated virtual networking solutions through HPE’s OpenNFV partner program. The pair will aim for ETSI-compliance carrier-grade application and service infrastructure solutions that should enable telcos around the world to speed up the transition from monolithic, proprietary infrastructure to agile, abstract networks. Samsung’s role will center mostly on providing virtualized EPC, IMS and VNF management services for mobile networks, which will supplement HPE’s management and orchestration expertise.

    Networking has long been the limiting factor in establishing broadly distributed cloud environments, but now that carrier infrastructure is gaining the same software-defined flexibility that has infiltrated the data center those limitations should quickly diminish.

    In fact, it isn’t all that unreasonable to expect that, before too long, dialing up remote cloud services won’t be much more difficult than making a long-distance telephone call.

    Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.

    Arthur Cole
    Arthur Cole
    With more than 20 years of experience in technology journalism, Arthur has written on the rise of everything from the first digital video editing platforms to virtualization, advanced cloud architectures and the Internet of Things. He is a regular contributor to IT Business Edge and Enterprise Networking Planet and provides blog posts and other web content to numerous company web sites in the high-tech and data communications industries.

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