As cloud computing matures, more businesses are seeing the value in investing in cloud infrastructure to deliver quick, reliable services to customers. This is particularly evident in Asia Pacific, touted by industry experts to be the next hotbed for cloud adoption, where enterprises spent nearly $10 billion on cloud and data centre infrastructure services, a significant jump from previous years, according to CNCData and the Synergy Research Group.
Much of the performances of cloud-based applications depend on the quality and connectivity of the network over which they are delivered. A slow unreliable network is not much of a use for companies looking to deliver high-speed, reliable services on-demand to its customers. For many, server downtime and unavailability of services result in significant loss of revenue, damaged reputation, and, on occasions, a breach of regulatory compliance.
New growth area for telcos
The importance of the network in cloud computing is presenting a new growth opportunity for telcos. With years of experience in providing network redundancy and low latency connectivity, it is a natural move for telcos to expand their portfolios by offering integrated cloud, network, and hosting services. They have an advantage over other cloud vendors since telcos control the networks that deliver the various types of cloud services to enterprises. As a result, telcos are able to provide service assurance and end-to-end service level agreements (SLA) on cloud applications and their performances.
Many telcos have their own dedicated data centres built to provide managed hosting services. With many mission-critical business applications and processes becoming digitised, many companies are turning to scalable, cloud-based disaster recovery (DR) solutions to complement their primary DR capabilities. This is another area of advantage for telcos, as far as ensuring synchronisation between primary and secondary DR infrastructures are concerned. With low latency connectivity, customers' data are synced and backed up in near real-time between the two sites, resulting in minimal loss of data in the event of a disaster.
Navigating the hurdles
Despite the rising competition between telcos to offer cloud services, many telecom providers find themselves challenged to organically develop the expertise to manage complex enterprise class types of cloud deployments. To offset this challenge, we are seeing the trend of acquisitions of and partnerships with cloud providers as telcos look to capitalise on their existing IT infrastructure and industry best practices. For example, Telstra Global has established strong partnerships with cloud technology vendors, Cisco and VMware, to tap their expertise to improve its cloud offerings to customers.
Like all other cloud vendors, telcos offering cloud services will also need to examine their security policies to ensure data privacy and compliance. By implementing necessary deterrent controls, like identity and access management tools, strong, multi-step user authentication systems, encryptions and passcodes, telcos must ensure only the right people have access to sensitive information stored in the cloud. Physical measures are also necessary to make sure the machines in the data centres are secure from theft, vandalism, and unauthorised access. Telcos also need to have a good disaster recovery strategy in place to ensure their customers' data is quickly and accurately recovered.
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