Joe Weinman: the executive leadership challenge is also
organisational, managerial and behavioural
Cloud is an exciting new technology that is pervasively
impacting all aspects of global telecommunications businesses:
commercial services, internal IT, and network transformation.
This is a mixed blessing, since many carriers are treating
these three areas separately, potentially missing out on
opportunities for cost synergies and organizational
Commercial services offer intriguing potential in solving the
perennial issue that carriers face: what will be the next
driver of revenue growth? The growth of cloud services means
that transport volumes are likely to increase, which holds out
at least the possibility for monetisation.
While this may be largely unfulfilled today, carriers are in
the position of offering a broad range of multi-layer services,
including optical transport, that can create hybrid cloud
architectures for enterprises at cost-effective price points.
Operators can also leverage their strong customer relationships
and trusted brand status to offer and monetise applications for
SMBs and consumers, in both wireline and wireless domains.
Internal IT can benefit from private cloud solutions, including
proven cost reductions arising from virtualisation,
consolidation, and optimisation. Moreover, what could be called
"seamless cloudbursting" from internal IT systems to third
parties provides capacity insurance for both business
continuity and disaster recovery as well as to handle peak
Network transformation is yet another area. On the wireless
side, emerging technologies are enabling smaller and lighter
radios, with some functionality potentially being consolidated
via cloud approaches.
On the wireline side, other emerging technologies such as open
source WAN acceleration, PBXs and even routers are enabling new
cloud fabrics built on industry standard servers to be used for
functions traditionally performed by special-purpose appliances
and systems that required application specific integrated
circuits to meet line-speed requirements.
Today, standard servers can offer multi-gigabit-per-second
performance to support real-time services, even including
virtualisation layer overhead.
While all of these individual approaches are exciting, it is
the rare carrier that considers all three not as independent
initiatives but from an integrated perspective. The leadership
challenge then — the view from the top — is
to coordinate these initiatives to achieve synergies.
Typically, commercial services are the domain of the chief
marketing officer, product management, and perhaps corporate
strategy and business development. Internal IT is the domain of
the CIO. Network infrastructure belongs to the CTO and head of
network capacity planning and engineering. While these are the
traditional roles, cloud computing can achieve its greatest
impact through collaboration and coordination of these three or
It is provable mathematically that consolidating two or more
varying workloads, such as commercial cloud services and
internal IT, can either require less capacity, have less
likelihood of an SLA violation, or both. If some work is
deferrable, service providers can defer internal work to be
able to sell more commercial capacity during peak customer
demand, and then run the deferrable internal work during off
Another is simplification of vendor partner relationships and
cloud design, engineering, and implementation efforts.
Leading carriers are defining a common architecture stack
beginning with hardware and continuing through virtualization,
OS and middleware, as well as a common physical implementation,
where data centres do double-duty as both internal IT sites and
commercial services delivery locations.
This approach is not restricted to megalithic data centres, but
can be used at the edge via microcell data centres —
not to be confused with pico or femtocell wireless. A
relatively small configuration, say two to two dozen servers,
can be used for content delivery, but also over time, to run
edge applications ranging from remote virtual desktops to
network traffic analysis.
A set of emerging technologies is enabling this to happen,
ranging from real-time capacity management to security in
common environments to automated provisioning and automated
cloudbursting to partner capacity.
The executive leadership challenge, however, is also
organisational, managerial and behavioural: how do three
different organisations collaborate effectively? How should
they be incented? What are the processes for coordination that
achieve synergies without delaying business-critical
The challenge to traditional operators is not so much other
traditional operators, but the over-the-top players which are
already using elements of this approach as they increasingly
pursue communications services.
From desktop/server software companies acquiring hundreds of
millions of VoIP subscribers to search/advertising firms
offering voice chat and acquiring mobility assets, this new
architecture is evident: using large, scale-out cloud
infrastructure to offer communications services, offer IT
services, run internal IT, and handle network tasks.
What’s your strategy? GTB
Joe Weinman is worldwide lead in Hewlett
Packard’s communications, media, and entertainment
business solutions unit