7 October 2011

NetEvents Service Provider summit, Frascati

Service Provider summit, Frascati

Long-time NetEvents attendee Camille Mendler, principal analyst at Informa, opened the final day's plenary proceedings here in Frascati.

To set the scene, she presented an overview of the cloud under the rubric of transformative business models, and highlighted some of the telecoms companies' activities in this area.

She pointed out that the number of telco cloud services launched has doubled in the last couple of years but that telcos are not being as innovative as they could be, describing them as the bottom feeders of the market, focused on the IaaS market.

Using concrete examples, Mendler said that telcos are mainly copying pure-play cloud providers rather than innovating, and are not playing to their strengths such as their expertise with and ability to manage the network.

She urged them to think about traditional services in a different way, and to use the cloud to reinvent legacy services.

The remaining presentations were case studies of how telcos are delivering cloud services, the first of which was BT's Alessandro Canzian, head of global telecom markets in Italy.

Canzian highlighted BT's On Demand Compute offering, its service levels, and physical and logical security measures. He also pointed out that customers can obtain individual statements of their carbon footprint for use in their annual reports.

He then explained BT's white label services and its virtual datacentre service, designed to act as underpinnings for systems integrators' own offerings.

Tim Gigg, Head of International Transport Programmes at Vodafone then took the stage and said he had just come back from building networks in Africa. He described how there was a strong business case for new infrastructure, especially fibre, in the continent. As a result, he said, two new cables, each with 5.12 terabit capacity, were due to reach Africa by the end of 2012.

He went on to describe how his team had laid fibre in Ghana to professional standards, to replace fibre that had been simply dropped on the ground. As a result of this project, Gigg said, Accra and 10 regional towns were now connected, and connections to adjoining countries were now possible. they key business opportunities were mining and energy companies, and the emerging middle class, he said.

The final event was a joint presentation from Akber Jaffer, VP Strategy Data Centre Services at COLT, and Tate Cantrell, CTO, Verne Global, a datacentre building company.

We aim to build efficient datacentres, the engines behind the cloud, said Cantrell. In a commodity industry, which cloud will eventually become, you will get the best profit by moving to the most efficient location, he said. This was why Verne has built a modular datacentre based on renewable power - with zero emissions - at the south-western tip of Iceland, he said.

Jaffer pointed out how efficiently COLT could build datacentres by modularising and using production line techniques - much like the car industry. It is fast and capital efficient, he said, and means a new module takes just four months from design to power on, compared to years for traditional methods.

Cantrell added that one of the advantages of Iceland was its server-friendly climate, the availability of geo-thermal and hydro-electric power, and the ability to lock in power prices for 20 years.

With that, editorial director Manek Dubash closed the plenary event, which continued with meetings between service providers, vendors and the analysts present.

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