Telecom outsourcing for cloud infrastructure build-out, management

For service providers that need help in the cloud, telecom outsourcing can cover day-to-day management or design and development services with pre-packaged turnkey cloud infrastructure.

Service providers know networks and have run data centers for years. But providers building telecom cloud infrastructure for enterprise customers will discover that increased data center expertise is critical when capital might be short. There are telecom outsourcing options for service providers that are struggling to compete in the cloud against other carriers as well as the new and agile cloud providers that specialize in it.

The telecom outsourcing options for cloud infrastructure are varied. Operators can find help with design and development or day-to-day management.

[Service providers] don't have a lot of money to dedicate to data center-based services … [and] want something that's cost-effective.

Amy Larsen DeCarlo
Principal Analyst, Current Analysis

Service providers that face competitive pressure to launch cloud services but lack capital to do so are turning to telecom outsourcing services, according to Amy Larsen DeCarlo, principal analyst at Current Analysis. Like their own customers, carriers are looking to minimize their upfront capital expenses by outsourcing various pieces of their cloud deployments, she said.

"Service providers are spending a lot of money investing in their networks and a lot of that money is going into the wireless infrastructure," Larsen DeCarlo said. "They don't have a lot of money to dedicate to data center-based services … so service providers want something that's cost-effective."  

Telecom outsourcing for cloud: build-out vs. management

Some service providers are looking for turnkey cloud computing equipment packages that vendors have pre-assembled, according to Lew Tucker, vice president and CTO of cloud computing at Cisco Systems. This approach to telecom outsourcing offers carriers a quicker time to market for large-scale deployments by dictating the service objectives but leaving the cloud infrastructure design, testing, integration and configuration to the vendor, Tucker said.

"Our objective is to make it possible for service providers to spend less time bringing up the basic infrastructure so they can spend more time on making each of their service offerings the best in the market," Tucker said.

These turnkey options mitigate the risk of building out the infrastructure "before one sale is made," said Lauren Robinette, principal analyst at ACG Research. "Cisco [is] managing the infrastructure … until the service provider directly takes on this business."

But there's a catch to this kind of telecom outsourcing for cloud deployment: Lock-in with a single vendor, she said.

Larger telecom cloud vendors such as Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson and Huawei "take a more pure 'outsource your multi-vendor platform [to us]'" approach similar to HP and IBM, partnering with various cloud infrastructure vendors, Robinette said. Those vendor-agnostic services generally appeal more to service providers than "the 'pure Cisco-only' approach," she said.

DeCarlo cautioned that service providers may not be able to differentiate their cloud services as easily if they adopt telecom outsourcing services that uniformly pre-package cloud infrastructure -- especially if business enterprises demand further customization that requires carriers to enlist the vendor again.

"Then you're going to have to spend for extra development cycles [for services that] you haven't really built into that model," she said. "On the flip side, the providers that have built their own stuff and are incredibly flexible might [have] some barriers they run into that we don't see right now."

Telecom outsourcing delivers unified communications cloud infrastructure for several carriers

Verizon Business, Orange Business Services and Swisscom recently commissioned Cisco to build and implement Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) infrastructure to deploy UC and collaboration services from the cloud.

Orange had experience operating hosted communications services with Cisco gear, but those deployments were designed with dedicated infrastructure for each client. Building multitenant clouds with automatic service provisioning was new territory for Orange that would require telecom outsourcing services to support design and integration, according to Paul Molinier, vice president of the unified communications and collaboration business unit.

"We have established a very good and strong partnership with Cisco, so it was natural for us to talk with Cisco about this new opportunity," Molinier said.

Like Orange, many service providers will choose telecom outsourcing services for cloud deployments based on their relationships with existing vendors, Larsen DeCarlo said.

"[Service providers] are looking in every direction they can," Larsen DeCarlo said. "To some degree, it depends on who the vendor is. If the vendor is a provider as well and has a lot of experience in not just professional services but also managed services, they're more likely to trust them [with cloud deployments], like HP and IBM."

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Jessica Scarpati, News Writer.

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