Operator choices for cloud and hosting – an Analysys Mason analysis
Really interesting to read the recent article from Tom Rebbeck at Analysys Mason, which does a good job of summarizing the different cloud options for telecoms operators.
While it does provide a great high-level summary, in a funny way it also represents the complexity that connectivity specialists face when they’re trying to work out how to deal with this thing called cloud.
Tom breaks down an operator’s cloud options into a few different categories. At one end of the spectrum, there’s the “no cloud” strategy – operators just carry on selling the connectivity services they’re used to. I really don’t think this is a sustainable strategy: as I’ve written about before, Telcos who stick to what they know will continue watching margins erode in traditional product areas, and see cloud operators eating more of their lunch.
At the other end, we have “managed hybrid cloud”, which combines services delivered from an operator’s own datacenters, with services that depend on third party clouds. In between, Analysys Mason covers colocation, virtual and hosted private cloud, and public cloud based on third party infrastructure, or an operator’s own datacenters.
It’s interesting to see how different operators can be shown to have taken one specific path in the context of these definitions: the article calls out differences in approach from KPN, Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica, for example. As Tom says, “Perhaps more than anything, operators are revealing their long-term visions through their approaches to cloud.”
Cloud delivery models for operators
Where it gets really interesting, though – and where I think we have a different view of the correct approach to cloud for operators – is the way Analysys Mason explains the delivery model for these services. Either the operator delivers cloud itself, or it relies on partners to do so – AKA, reselling.
There are plenty of operators offering cloud services today, but they’re just reselling AWS, or Azure, or GCE.
Why have so many operators taken this path – and why are so many still lagging in cloud service delivery? It’s the same reason for both: they perceive cloud as complex, expensive, and outside their core competence.
Faced with the matrix of potential service offerings, and probably an even more complicated matrix of what their customers need, it’s easy to see why Telcos – who are, let’s face it, connectivity businesses – just partner with Amazon, Microsoft, Google or some other cloud provider.
What’s the problem with that? In doing so, operators leave so much on the table for companies who, little by little, are moving into their core product areas: voice, VPN, industry-specific cloud applications, IoT, contact center, unified communications and mobility, for example.
Cloud is absolutely where you need to be as an operator. It’s too important to offload to partners, too critical strategically to the success of your business. Consider just two of the hot technologies you’ll find on the agenda of any telecoms conference this year: SDN and 5G.
SDN is the latest example of cloud absorbing a core connectivity service. Why deploy separate network hardware appliances when your cloud can run them virtually? Quite often, having to cram additional devices into your cloud to handle the networking results in driving a wedge between your customers and the services they need to access. As well as adding unnecessary cost, it creates layers of additional complexity and can degrade performance.
Meanwhile, 5G is being touted as the next major growth engine for the industry, and if the predicted uptake actually happens, it’s going to place huge importance on compute capability at the edge of the network.
Do these sound like core parts of your proposition that you should be handing to a partner?
Wouldn’t it be better to own the platform, and blend cloud and connectivity services to continue staying relevant to your clients – not to mention, to retain as much of the revenue and margin as possible?
Operators should keep three things in mind when considering their cloud options.
1. Cloud is a critical strategic product
2. Having a skills gap, infrastructure gap or capital gap is no barrier to cloud success
3. One approach to cloud does not have to exclude the others
And then, they should talk to OnApp!
The best of all clouds
We’ve designed a cloud platform for service providers that encompasses all of these service options, and enables you to provide any mix of cloud using any mix of your own or third party infrastructure. Instead of choosing a single path and having to stick to it, OnApp gives you the flexibility to change and adapt your strategy according to your needs, and the changing needs of your customers.
There’s a very important difference in our approach versus simply “partnering”. It’s your cloud service. It’s completely white-labelled – and puts you in control of your own destiny.
Use OnApp to manage your expanding edge, offer public cloud, hosted private cloud, virtual private cloud, or any mix of those using your infrastructure or third party infrastructure – including hyperscale from AWS and others. You can even provision and automate bare metal for your customers, offering a more value-added alternative to colo for those that need it.
Crucially, you can offer all of this through a single platform. You control the service mix, you control the location, you control the pricing, and you control the margin – and you most certainly continue to own the customer.
But, what about technical debt – what if you don’t the skills, or the infrastructure, or the capital to do this? These things are really no obstacle. You can do it all on an OPEX basis, using our fully managed “cloud platform as a service” offering.
Cloud doesn’t have to be complex. Get in touch and we’ll show you a better way.