6 October 2011

Day two of NetEvents October 2011 press summit in Frascati opened with a set of meetings between vendors and press (more info in next blog), followed

KEYNOTE: Joe Baguley, Chief Cloud Technologist, VMware.

The morning's keynote was delivered by Joe Baguley, chief cloud technologist from virtualisation software company VMware. Baguley talked about how virtualisation in the cloud will change how everyone works.

One of his main points was that in future the desktop operating system will be pulled apart as its various elements -- memory, disk and CPU -- are pushed into the cloud, and applications will be available anywhere on any device. This will remove the need for desktops, he said.

He also said we would also be seeing mobile virtual phones -- Android phones running another phone image -- very soon. Some corporates already do this with laptops so that one image is locked down and secured, designed for company usage, while the other is for personal use.

He was lightly grilled by the event host, Manek Dubash, who asked about the confusion that remains between cloud and virtualisation, the problems of over-reliance on unreliable networks, and Microsoft, VMware's biggest competitor.

HEAD 2 HEAD ‘Clash of the Titans' : Datacentre Architecture Shoot-Out

An entertaining session headed by Daniel Beazer, senior research analyst at Tier1 Research. Beazer played the role of an Australian media baron looking for pitches from cloud service providers, in the shape of Verizon Business's David Howarth and Brocade's John McHugh.

Howarth's pitch offered access anywhere, any time, any place, and to overcome the barriers of change, governance and trust. McHugh offered a flat, low-latency network which he said would allow capacity-based scaling. After a show of hands from the audience as to the more effective pitch (which McHugh narrowly won), two analysts played the role of consultants examining the two vendors' offerings. Keith Humphries (Eurolan) asked about legacy integration, while Rob Bamforth (QuoCirca) asked how the vendors planned to quantify existing assets.

After John McHugh declared systems integrators were going to be the road kill of the cloud, a final vote was taken, in which McHugh increased his margin of victory.

DEVIL’S ADVOCATE “Into the ether then into the cloud – the vital role of Ethernet”

Analyst James Eibisch from IDC was up next, and discussed the role of Ethernet in the cloud. For him, the question was whether high speed Ethernet can deliver at the core, and what benefit it brings to the cloud.

On the panel, Kevin Vachon of the MEF said that Ethernet will be critical to the cloud, while James Walker of Tata Communications said that cloud services are being taken up quickly as providers deploy Ethernet within and between their datacentres. McHugh said that Ethernet is great where appropriate, enlarged upon by Alcatel-Lucent's Phil Tilley who reckoned that Ethernet gives high bandwidth, secure and reliable services. Tilley added that Ethernet is ideal for known – i.e. not mobile -- locations. John McHugh added that it's not as simple as that as you can't just let people create and run their own Ethernet. It needs a multi-protocol architecture, he said.

After further discussion, Eibisch polled the audience, who agreed that Ethernet will be essential to cloud where its application makes sense.

Service Assurance with the Cloud. Rob Bamforth, Principal Analyst, Communication, Collaboration and Convergence, Quocirca

The summit's penultimate session was led by Rob Bamforth, principal analyst at QuoCirca, and concerned service assurance in the cloud. He asked the panel how much was needed.

Panel member Marco Wanders from Acision said that the cloud needed application performance, availability and security, with cloud access being the key reason for the network's existence. Available capacity will always be used, he said, so you need to classify traffic to allow SLA and prioritisation to work.

Vodafone's Tim Gigg said his company has a cloud offering for multinationals but that latency is an issue when selling to Asia-Pac and Africa. He agreed that quality of service is important, so Vodafone places content caches close to its base stations.

David Howarth, of Verizon Business, said you need to define the experience you want to have and work backwards from there. We will backhaul traffic to the best place to get it to the Internet but we need application developers to collaborate, he said.

Ahmedou Oul Ahmed Sidi, from Mauritel, said his company was still thinking about cloud. His concerns were how cloud technology will affect the operator value chain and the telco business model. He was also concerned about security, service creation, the cost of migration from legacy infrastructures, and whether quality of service in the cloud was good enough for financial transactions. We wait to be convinced, he said.

Improving Profitability & ROI for SPs. Michal Halama, Principal Analyst, Business Network IT Services, Current Analysis

The final panel of the day came courtesy of Michal Halama, principal analyst at Current Analysis. Entitled Show Me The Money, this session concerned service providers' business models. The key factors for service providers are timing, revenue, cost-saving, and investment, he said. They need to blend existing services with new cloud services, and customers need to perceive the value.

From the panel, Alessandro Canzian, of BT, said that the cloud is a hub containing services from a number of players. Developers need to be creative in finding new services and not worrying about servers, while systems integrators need to integrate the legacy and cloud worlds.

Matthias Nass, from telecoms equipment vendor ECI, said that broadband is commodity, price-driven, with lots of user churn. This means there is a need to enhance revenue streams with services such as security, managed bandwidth, and datacentre strategies, Nass said. He said that a successful cloud needs to be easy to use, offer comprehensive functionality, automatic service provision, and integration of relevant services. He was favour of net neutrality but said that it was an international regulatory issue.

Panel member Simone Bonnannini, from Interoute, said that the service provider's role is not just to sell the bricks of the cloud but houses – i.e. not just services but the cloud itself. He saw the cloud as a black box to solve customers' problems and that's the key to making money. The problem with getting money from over-the-top operators, he said, is that if there are multiple operators, one will offer free transport and the rest must follow.

Jim Machi of Dialogic said that the cloud is a sandbox to allow developers to build applications. The first applications are non-essential, such as fax services, he said, followed by unified communications and new mobile services such as video messaging/SMS, and mobile videoconferencing.

After further discussion, the panel concluded. This wrapped up the summit for members of the press, although service providers and analysts stayed on for further discussions.

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