Ahead of his presentation at the Telco Cloud World Forum in London next week, Jeurgen Urbanski, chief technologist for big data and cloud at Deutsche Telekom, talks to Telecoms.com about the role of telecoms operators in the cloud ecosystem and the challenges the sector faces.

Mike Hibberd

April 9, 2013

3 Min Read
Ahead in the cloud

 Juergen UrbanskiWhat is the role of telecom operators in the Cloud Computing ecosystem?

Operators can fulfil two crucial roles here:

1. Integration: Customers love cloud for its fast-paced best-of-breed innovation, besides just the cost savings that cloud typically brings. The complication is that as customers embrace potentially dozens of cloud services at the infrastructure and applications levels, sourced directly from highly focused pure play vendors, they end up with very fragmented, siloed environments. That’s exactly the kind of fragmentation we know from siloed on-premise IT landscapes. We all remember the headaches, cost and complexity of that world. Except this time, particularly in a public cloud, complications arising from poorly understood security and compliance models, incompatible data pipelines, or rogue users escaping IT control, can be far more wide-ranging and devastating. Therefore, the integration that companies like T-Systems provide, leveraging our systems integration capability or our enterprise app store (“Business Marketplace”), brings distinct value. Customers can have it both ways – best-of-breed innovation but with some level of enterprise-wide orchestration and optimization.

2. Network quality of service: Cloud means not just more bits flowing over possibly congested networks, but also more “important” bits. Traffic from a video conference with customers in Asia should have priority over me watching YouTube during my lunch break. Only operators can provide the quality-of-service, via application performance management, that discerning business customers expect.

What are the biggest challenges Cloud Computing is faced with in the immediate future?

The biggest challenges are at the application level. Running applications on virtual infrastructure in the cloud is relatively easy. But the much bigger prize is refactoring entire multi-tier application landscapes according to cloud design principles, since customers rarely have the luxury of 100% green field. This will be a 5 to 10 year transition as developers need to pick up new skills, and concrete business initiatives get funded at customers that – implemented smartly – implement cloud application and middleware one building block at a time. This includes a more modular, scale-out, reusable approach to architecting applications. Higher level frameworks like SpringSource are used instead of lower level programming languages. Apps become decoupled from the infrastructure, fully expecting to run on cheap, commodity infrastructure. The end goal is clear – new applications can be developed in a reasonably short period of time – say 3 months – to respond to new business imperatives. That is only possible because of agile application development where 90% of the “bill of materials” comes from existing “lego blocks” that can be flexibly recombined.

What is the current offer of DT-T Systems with regards to Cloud Computing?

Deutsche Telekom offers a portfolio of over 30 different cloud services across all customer segments, from the enterprise to SMB to consumer. These encompass infrastructure, developer environments, collaboration, business applications and security as a service. The enterprise services division of Deutsche Telekom is T-Systems. T-Systems generates more than €500m with cloud services, covering domains like end user computing, enterprise networking and data center.

What are the future plans of DT- T-Systems in the Cloud arena?

Our aspiration is for €2bn in additional revenue by 2015. We will build on our track record of being among the first to bring leading-edge innovation to customers in Europe. A current example of this is our active role in driving software defined networking (founding member of the Open Networking Foundation) and OpenStack (also through our board seat on the Open Data Center Alliance ODCA) to a point where each can be deployed safely and successfully. We are also an innovator in Big Data.

Telco Cloud World Forum runs from 15 – 17 April at the Lancaster Hotel in London. For more information visit the event site.

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About the Author(s)

Mike Hibberd

Mike Hibberd was previously editorial director at Telecoms.com, Mobile Communications International magazine and Banking Technology | Follow him @telecomshibberd

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