An interesting news item caught our attention recently. It seems AT&T is going to collaborate with IBM for the delivery of cloud services. AT&T’s network expertise will be complemented by IBM’s expertise in cloud services. In their analysis, Yankee Group suggests that this points to growing maturity in the cloud market.
We agree – but it also points to further necessary steps towards cloud service delivery. We have long viewed the role of the network operator as being potentially crucial in cloud service delivery – they are able to control the connection to the customer and can help deliver the quality of service and performance guarantees that will be demanded by enterprise cloud customers, but which the cloud service provider cannot offer.
But it needs to go further – network operators cannot currently guarantee QoS in the access domain. This is particularly problematic in mobile networks, where RAN performance is a hotly debated topic. What’s needed is the ability to deliver and guarantee QoS from the devices that are used – tablets, dongle enabled laptops, mobiles and so on. This can only be achieved by extending the policy management framework and deploying PCEF functionality on devices.
By taking these steps, network operators can ensure that they offer clear and unique value to cloud service providers, forging the way for fruitful partnerships in the future. We expect there to be many more such announcements – but we also expect the issue of end-to-end QoS to become even more important as a consequence.