By Beecher Tuttle
The cost-effective, scalable and flexible nature of cloud services have made them exceedingly popular with enterprises of all sizes. As such, the cloud – along with the parallel convergence of information technology, telecom and media – has given communication service providers (CSPs) substantial opportunities to increase revenues and profits. These manifest themselves in a number of different market segments that leverage cloud computing capabilities and include Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).
The benefits cloud services provide enterprises – and the associated revenue generating opportunities for CSPs – were recently documented in an article entitled, “Enterprise Cloud Services Come of Age,” which was authored by Alcatel-Lucent's Xavier Martin and Annie Ohayon-Dekel. In it they explain how and why SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS market segments are expected to enjoy 15 percent, 61 percent and 27 percent CAGR growth over the next ten years.
These strong growth projections stem from the numerous business and technical benefits of the cloud, including its elastic, virtualized and on-demand nature and ability to enhance immersive communications experiences for end users. The authors elaborate as to how and why the cloud also offers several strategic benefits, including the ability develop and deploy new platforms, technologies, services and applications with minimal time-to-market. They also point out that from an enterprise perspective, cloud services require negligible or even no upfront costs, making them highly desirable for expanding organizations who can pay as they grow.
Martin and Ohayon-Dekel also see mobility as a driver of the rising adoption rates of cloud services as today's enterprise workforce becomes both more dispersed geographically, more mobile and literaaly driven by necessity to give the appearance of being always on, all ways accessible and always available for business. This proliferation of connected devices and the demand for constant access to business-critical applications has made cloud services not just something of interest but in a growing number of cases a necessity for most enterprises.
Although some barriers to cloud adoption do exist – including concerns over security, reliability and maturity – the benefits can outweigh the drawbacks. In addition, these concerns can be mitigated by choosing alternative models to cloud adoption, such as private and hybrid clouds, which restrict user access and network usage to keep private data secure.
Martin and Ohayon-Dekel also note that the role of the CIO has dramatically changed in today's enterprise. Information officers are no longer seen as technical experts, but rather generators of ideas for services that will enhance productivity, increase customer satisfaction and enable the mobile workforce.
"The cloud can offer some significant benefits in these areas," they wrote. "The role of the CIO will increasingly be to decide which services can be made available from the cloud, and which cloud model to use."
The authors are quick to point out that the cloud can be similarly beneficial to CSPs, as enterprises will be looking to service providers to help manage their cloud infrastructures and services.
CSPs "can intelligently blend platforms for immersive communications with network-based services (such as prioritization and caching of applications), based on their business criticality. They can build Virtual Private Clouds for enterprise customers, or simply become pure cloud providers, by syndicating resources to serve many organizations from the same infrastructure."
The bottom line for the authors was that in a rapidly changing world where accommodation of change is increasingly the path to sustainability and profitability, both service providers and enterprise customers can look to the cloud for answers to their challenges and silver linings that represent opportunities. The cloud is not just in most company futures it is ready for prime time now.