Developing and deploying the enterprise cloud

The Telecom Cloud Services Summit takes place in Berlin in early May. caught up with speaker Jorge Caraphina, Engineer at PT Inovação, a research and development company under Portugal Telecom Group, to talk about the challenges of scaling, reliability and security while meeting the opportunities that cloud provides in the enterprise customer segment.

Cloud means many things to many people. What is your definition?

It’s the provisioning of computational resources through a network infrastructure (not necessarily the Internet). Strictly speaking, the term is used to classify things that have been around for a long time, in fact long before the terms was coined. What’s new in clouds is not the service itself, but mainly the fact that it can be dynamically provisioned on-demand and resources can be used in an elastic way. Virtualisation technologies have made this vision possible. Doing it on a large scale, while at the same time fulfilling stringent reliability requirements, is currently the main challenge.

Where do you believe the greatest opportunities are in terms of cloud technology adoption?

From a network operator’s point of view, it opens up new opportunities, mainly in the enterprise customer segment. For enterprises, strict fulfilment of security, reliability and performance is crucial. The network between the data centre and the customer obviously plays a key role here.

Are you aware of any challenges to the adoption or deployment of cloud services?

Enterprises are particularly cautious when it comes to deploying mission-critical applications. The biggest challenge is to demonstrate that clouds are mature enough to fulfil stringent enterprise-class requirements.

Should cloud primarily be used to optimise in house processes – such as optimising your data centres? Or are its main benefits those that can be passed on to customers – service delivery?

I guess both apply, but I see great business potential in service delivery.  I think network operators are particularly well positioned to play a key role here.

Which key markets do you see cloud as a good fit for? Is it restricted to vertical markets?

That’s a difficult question to answer. There are of course markets for which security and reliability are not enough today, but things may change.  I don’t see why the business potential of clouds should be limited to vertical markets.

How important are partnerships in the cloud space?

Partnerships are essential at this stage, as very few, if any,  players have full control of all the crucial components of the cloud – e.g. virtualization, data centre networking, wide area networking

With regards to technology – is cloud a mature model?

It’s clear that in many respects – security, reliability, dependability, performance – cloud technologies are still immature. For example, the combination of clouds with network-based VPNs (or enterprise networks, in general) is a field that requires a lot of attention. Just like the WAN component of enterprise networks is usually based on reliable VPNs (rather than the public Internet), there is no reason to believe that future enterprise cloud services will require a lesser degree of reliability and quality guarantees. Security is another obvious weakness of the cloud today.

With regards to business model – how does cloud change the game?

From a telecoms perspective, it can change a lot. For a long time, operators have struggled to become more than just connectivity providers and the cloud offers a great opportunity.

Which companies do you see as pioneers in cloud adoption?

Amazon, Google and Salesforce have played a pioneering role in this space. But as cloud services become mainstream, the role played by operators and equipment vendors will become more prominent.

Jorge Caraphina is speaking on building cloud services and assessing their impact on the currently dominant network service models for enterprises – network based VPNs – on day one of the event.

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