Pipeline Publishing, Volume 7, Issue 9
This Month's Issue:
The Cloud Beckons
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The Cloud Services Opportunity
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One of the promises of the cloud is universal access. End users expect to be able to use a desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile device to access the services they need. The ability to provide service, regardless of the underlying platform, is critical for end-user satisfaction. Therefore, a complete cloud service delivery platform must be able to work with a multitude of operating systems, databases, and application servers that power provisioned services and their individual components; be able to mix and match them efficiently to provide best-of-breed service offerings; and be able to easily replace one component with another if the need arises. (For example, service providers must be able to easily switch between third-party independent software vendors who supply one of their enabled services.) This complexity requires cloud service delivery platforms to be able to handle the widest range of diverse components.

One of the promises of the Cloud is universal access, regardless of the underlying platform.

Self Service, Storefronts and Business Models

Cloud services require a higher degree of end-user self-service capabilities than traditional telecommunication or IT services, and cloud service delivery platforms need to take this need into account. Self service is an integral part of the overall delivery system—especially in view of the high volume of new cloud services that are rapidly being made available to end users.

The online storefront and underlying shopping cart and product catalog for cloud services need to be able to handle the tens of thousands of components defined above. This makes such a storefront and shopping cart much more complicated than traditional interfaces used by companies selling

Traditional vertical service delivery solutions are typically designed to solely provision services located on a provider's premises. However, many services today are hosted on third-party vendors' sites or in the cloud. Consequently, a complete cloud service delivery platform must be able to provision, configure, and manage such remote or syndicated services in conjunction with their on-premise services. For example, a service provider may want to combine an onsite Hosted Exchange deployment with offsite e-mail archiving from a third party.

Because of increased complexity and the need to rapidly develop and roll out new services, traditional vertical service delivery platforms will have a hard time adapting to cloud requirements. But even if they can deploy enough side-by-side vertical platforms to be able to provision the full spectrum of services, a seamless user experience requires good integration between services, which is extremely hard to achieve with multiple vertical stacks not designed to work together.

widgets, as they need to be able to handle the relationships and dependencies between all the components. Much like self service, this requirement is another integral part of the overall cloud service delivery platform.

Traditional service delivery platforms have one product catalog in the ordering system, another in the provisioning system, and another in the billing system—plus a stand-alone shopping cart application. Because of the large number of components involved in delivering cloud services, service providers either need a mechanism for tight integration across catalogs or, preferably, a single catalog across all systems. Having multiple product catalogs has always been difficult for telecommunication service providers, who must maintain up to a dozen catalogs in different systems. Without a well-designed cloud service delivery platform, cloud services will simply take this mess to the next level.

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