There are several oft-discussed cloud computing proponents in the market, AT&T, Google, Microsoft and IBM. I don't see the need to cover IBM as they have been in the outsourcing business for many years. Instead, I'd like to look more deeply at the remaining players. While the AT&T Synaptic Hosting service does not promote an individual application, it does address many of the major infrastructure questions that accompany cloud computing. AT&T is doing what telecom companies know well. They are delivering a cloud computing infrastructure that provides network access, security, robustness/high availability (99.9%), scalability and standard operating environment. This certainly leveraging their expertise in the building and operating of telecommunications networks.
Microsoft and Google are providing a range of applications, some of which we don't view as cloud computing but really as a basic offering from major search engine internet properties. Gmail is a cloud computing application but referring to it as such doesn't really change any dynamics. More important was the creation of Google Docs to take on Microsoft Office. It had an interesting beginning but soon users wanted access to documents without having to be connected to the Internet. Google now offers offline features to meet those requirements. Microsoft continues to evolve its operating system to support its applications and other in both a LAN and Internet environment. The Windows Azure Platform, Microsoft's answer to cloud computing, is described as providing services that can be "consumed" from either environment.
Vivek Kundra, the federal Chief Information Officer, announced the launch of Apps.gov as the US government's initial foray into cloud computing. In addition to cost savings and driving innovation, Apps.gov is also viewed as part of the Green initiative. The power and cooling requirements for the government's data centers can be reduced if Apps.gov meets its charter and is adopted by the many government agencies. A quick glance at the site finds the primary application provider is Salesforce.com with a smattering of other providers. I haven't used Salesforce.com in a few years but I was impressed by the range of applications.
So why do we in the world of SIP care about cloud computing. First, it can be a new source of revenue for both the ITSPs and channel. Second, embracing the technology and delivering solutions may prevent Google and Microsoft from dominating this space. This is important since the primary decision maker for telecom services has migrated from the Telecom Director to the CIO and IT Director. Telecom must bring value to the table in order to get any mind share with the IT Department. Otherwise, it will continue to be viewed as a commodity and fighting over price. Third, who will maintain the role for regulating ITSPs like Broadvox when these applications integrate voice as part of the feature set and processes? Skype is a good example of an ISP/ITSP expanding its service offering beyond voice into desktop sharing and file sharing. With continued improvements in voice recognition and voice to text conversion, many applications will have a VoIP component. Chief Strategy Officer Christopher Dean reminds us that Skype for SIP results in Skype being much more than voice.
The result will be an increased effort on the part of the states to claim regulatory over sight for VoIP service providers from the FCC. What may now be "settled" law will soon be under discussion again.
Ain't it fun!
See you on Friday...