This week I represented ANPI at IP Possibilities 2013 in Minneapolis. The event is produced by NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association that represents nearly 900 independent, community based telecommunications companies. IP Possibilities had nearly 500 attendees with 67 exhibitors. Given my onsite meeting schedule I was not able to listen to all of the sessions but I was able to get a good feel for the types of discussions taking place during the event. On Wednesday, I participated in a panel discussion called “Monetizing the Cloud”. Also on the panel was Arun Pasrija, CEO CHR Solutions and Steven Pickett, CEO Aspira Networks.
The hook for the panel discussion was as follows: “Industry blogs are filled with discussions on cloud services and “big data.” But how do smaller telecommunications companies play in this space? How is this industry evolving? How many data centers are enough? And, what cloud applications can you leverage in your business? Technology experts will answer these questions and more.”
How well we answered the questions can be debated but we did have a lively discussion. We approached cloud computing not from the perspective of features and functionality but by examining the demand, infrastructure requirements and revenue opportunities.
The demand is clear. Revenue for hosted communications and services is growing at 22-35% per year based upon varying sources. SMB interest in a hosted solution is approaching 50% for those considering or expected to implement a hosted offering within the next 18 months. Although, if the definition of cloud computing includes email, accounting software, and online SEO / SEM management tools, I believe the use exceeds 80%.
Infrastructure requirements include geographically distributed servers with fail over capabilities, scalability, ease-of-use with online customer portals for service management, and integration of mobile devices (smartphones, tablets and laptops).
The revenue opportunities are many ranging from web hosting and data storage to a business communications solution utilizing common broadband transport or SIP Trunking.
ANPI will definitely continue to sponsor and participate in this valuable forum.