By Susan J. Campbell
The buzz throughout the telecommunications and technology space is surrounding cloud computing. Cloud-based services enable service providers to tap into new markets without expanding budgets. On the corporate side, businesses of all sizes can leverage enhanced capability through cloud services that fit within tight budgets.
A recent Alcatel-Lucent Enriching Communications article, Cloud Services: A Strategy and a Framework, explored the potential that cloud services creates for the small- to medium-sized business (SMB) that typically does not have its own IT staff or the capabilities to deploy complex applications to support strategic initiatives. A cloud services provider can enable the SMB to deploy professional grade applications, while also reducing their entry cost. These service providers are also positioned to provide a unique combination of reliability, value and functionality.
While service providers can easily succeed with cloud services, they have to clearly understand the challenges and barriers that could arise as they launch their new cloud solutions. These can include stiff competition from over-the-top players offering efficient, low-cost services; as the cloud is new, it requires a significant investment in resources, processes and knowledge; integration may be necessary to transform current infrastructures to cloud services delivery; business models have to change; differentiation is key; customers need to be educated; providers must prove their cloud services can improve QoE for SMBs; and their technology must be able to meet the need of the SMB.
To truly leverage the opportunities that exist in delivering cloud services, the service provider must be able to develop a solid cloud services framework. Only then will the provider be able to deliver solutions that support enriching communications. This structured framework helps the provider to find the best approach to fit their strategy, operating model and improve service delivery.
To develop an effective framework, the service provider should focus on four key stages of cloud services evolution, including exploration, transformation, consolidation and differentiation. Alcatel-Lucent offers innovative solutions that can equip the service provider during each of these stages, as well as the movement to launch cloud services.
The cloud truly offers a win-win for both service providers and SMBs. The tools and applications available through cloud services ensure the SMB can provide better services to end users. The model offers a low-barrier to entry, and reliable, flexible and pay-as-you-grow pricing structures that fit well within the SMB frame. Service providers can generate new revenues by attracting those SMBs with reliable and flexible feature-enhanced applications delivered seamlessly through the cloud.
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