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SP360: Service Provider

All eyes were on TIA this week as leaders from across the telecommunications industry gathered at Inside the Network to discuss the hottest and most challenging issues facing telcos today. I participated Wednesday morning in a cloud panel discussion at TIA with lively interplay on telcos’ role in cloud, differentiation, and key success factors on which to focus. The takeaway was this: there’s no easy answer, but plenty of opportunity for those who can figure out a formula that works for their firm.

What we do know is that the rush to cloud is on, but this is no five lane superhighway with everyone barreling ahead in the same direction. It’s a journey with many possible paths, and once you set off in one direction it can be difficult to reverse course. Two themes that were common throughout the discussion were the need to thoughtfully differentiate your offerings and the emergence of a diverse set of clouds, not just a single monolithic cloud approach.  This is why telcos are thinking very hard about the best way to approach delivering cloud services.

Telcos, or Service Providers as we refer to them at Cisco, need to begin by examining their strengths. They possess a high-grade infrastructure that spans end-to-end and connects directly to the enterprise.  They understand the availability and security needs of the enterprise and have the assets and expertise to deliver on these needs with tight service level agreements (SLA). They already have a relationship with many of their potential cloud customers.

Telcos are in a unique position. They are the only cloud providers that own the infrastructure over which services are delivered, so each part of that infrastructure must be connected and made intelligent. Once geographically disperse data centers act in concert and the network becomes aware of the information it is delivering, entire new services become possible.

Cloud is not commoditizing infrastructure, but instead making it more important than ever. With the right data center and network approach, service providers can transform their offerings and take a leadership role in delivering cloud.

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