Cloud services can drive telco success

Historically, telecommunication companies have been characterized by fixed rates for telephone and Internet service. Because price is the distinguishing factor instead of features or other differentiators, the average revenue per user has been on a downward trend. The industry has been looking for a solution to this trend for some time, and some providers are now finding it in managed IT services in the cloud.

Well Positioned to Engage in Managed Cloud Services


Historically, telecommunication companies have been characterized by fixed rates for telephone and Internet service. Because price is the distinguishing factor instead of features or other differentiators, the average revenue per user has been on a downward trend. The industry has been looking for a solution to this trend for some time, and some providers are now finding it in managed IT services in the cloud.

Well Positioned to Engage in Managed Cloud Services

Telecommunication companies are uniquely positioned to succeed by offering managed IT cloud services, especially compared to other telecommunication industry players. They have networks and long-term relationships with their customers that their competitors don’t have. Combining a telecommunication company’s knowledge of customers with a service offering to match their needs would give a telecommunication provider an offering unique among its competitors.

Telecommunication companies’ billing systems and customer care centers also constitute valuable strengths. They allow telecom providers to operate in a scalable manner and are highly professional and process controlled, giving them the ability to expand and diversify very effectively.

Knowledge of cloud computing architectures and protocols is a plus, and many telecommunication providers gained essential experience when transforming old proprietary networks into a powerful next generation network (NGN). The NGN is already entirely based on the all-IP protocol, relying on modern service delivery platforms (SDPs).

Deciding Which Services to Provide

In order for businesses to reap the benefits of managed IT services in the cloud, telecommunication companies must choose what services will be most beneficial for them to adopt and how to rearrange their current licensing models to utilize usage-based billing of the actual IT services provided. This requires consideration of three groups: the telecommunication companies, their end users and the IT vendors with whom the telecommunication companies will partner with to deliver the new services.

But what services can drive revenue and be operated cost-effectively? The choice can seem overwhelming because so much IT functionality today has the potential to be delivered as a cloud offering. The array of services sometimes ends up tricking companies into delivering a variety of services that rarely meet the desired customer retention and revenue expectations. Telecommunication companies need to stick to their core competencies of telecommunication infrastructure and communications and link them to IT services their customers see as essential. By doing so, they can rejuvenate their revenue streams with managed IT services and simultaneously drive increased satisfaction among their target customers.

The following breakdown of different cloud services will help telecommunication companies decide which managed IT cloud services can best increase their revenue and please their customers.

Security-as-a-Service
When a person becomes a customer of a telecommunication company, the provider will install lines and manage availability and performance. Unfortunately, those lines are not immune to security problems. It would be a mistake for a provider to manage availability and performance without taking into account the security problems that could take down the service. This is easier said than done since doing so requires time, money and people. That’s where managed IT cloud services comes in.

Small and medium-sized companies often have little knowledge or experience in this area and represent an ideal group of potential security-as-a-service adopters. To start, this service may consist of a passive monitoring process with set reactions to detect security problems. Long term, however, providers can take on active security management. When choosing a security provider to partner with, telecommunication companies need to evaluate service level commitments for performance, scalability and effectiveness to make sure they can deliver the required level of security.

By partnering with a certified security provider and operating a security operation center according to the SAS 70 standard, telecommunication companies can minimize their technical and financial burden. This also enables them to maintain security without having a separate security operation center for customer service. Depending on their business model, the telecommunication provider can offer first or second level support through its customer care centers and maintain important customer contacts while the security partner performs the more technical operations work in the background.

Archiving-as-a-Service
Email and other messaging services like email archiving are a core competency for telecommunication providers. Many of them already host their customers’ Exchange or Domino environments, so taking the next step into email archiving is a logical solution for customer satisfaction.

By utilizing archiving-as-a-service, customers not only enjoy operational advantages such as unlimited mailbox sizes, but can also reduce the risk of non-compliance with laws and regulations. A telecommunication provider specializing in this area can extend the base offering with necessary storage systems, processes and e-discovery tools in a cost-effective way.

Backup-as-a-Service
Because telecom providers and ISPs own their own networks, they are in an excellent position to operate central data backups for their business customers. Businesses are increasingly data-centric and need backup services to ensure their assets are safe. Using a third-party provider to manage that service in the cloud is a necessary benefit for business subscribers. New compression processes like data deduplication even make fast backup of customer offices on low-bandwidth networks possible.

Storage-as-a-Service
Many of these managed IT services will increase customers’ demand for storage capacity from their telecommunication providers. Those providers would therefore benefit, even at an early stage, from building an internal private storage cloud that meets the requirements for extreme scalability and flexibility at the lowest total cost. The time may come when customers demand those features or take their business elsewhere.

Building their own cloud for storage also gives telecommunication providers the future possibility of taking its resources and the experience of operating a private storage cloud to later offer Storage-as-a-Service externally.

Conclusion
Managed IT services are becoming commonplace and critical in a telecommunication provider’s offerings. The security and information management services discussed above are increasingly important to individual and business subscribers. They will no longer use price as the sole differentiator between providers but will increasingly consider the breadth of cloud-based services available. Customers will choose the telecommunication providers that offer the features they need at reasonable costs. Third-party providers and cloud technology enable telecommunication companies to identify the services their target customers need most and provide them in a cost effective way.

About the Author

John Magee is a vice president of product marketing for Symantec’s cloud initiatives. He is responsible for managing cross-portfolio initiatives that span Symantec’s security, storage and information governance solutions. He has over 20 years of experience in enterprise software. Prior to joining Symantec, he was vice president of product marketing and marketing operations at EMC. Before joining EMC, he spent 12 years at Oracle, where he held various positions in product development, product management and product marketing including vice president of product marketing for Oracle’s middleware and application development tools.