"Large-scale data centre and dedicated storage consolidation to mutualised platforms via refreshing legacy services offers the potential to deliver greater margins to their business whilst enhancing the end-user experience, driving improved SLAs and giving an all-round increase in performance and functionality."
According to a report from Ericsson, there are three major roles through which telecom operators can align themselves as providers in the cloud value chain -- managing cloud activity, delivering cloud-based capabilities, and leveraging network assets to enhance cloud offerings.
Cloud-based resources that can be provisioned at speed and turned off, or released when not needed, offer big advantages with quantifiable capex benefits. They can be available at any scale and with a lower cost footprint than on-premise options.
"Telcos that take on the role of a provider of cloud services can manage connectivity, deliver cloud capabilities and leverage network assets to enhance cloud offerings," Faraidooni says. "Managing cloud connectivity is a natural value-add activity when bearing in mind the core competencies of telcos.
"They can also deliver on-demand applications and computing capacity through partnerships, or on their own infrastructure."
Andreas Krenn, Strategic Marketing Director, RMEA, Ericsson, believes telecom operators in the Middle East can add value in two ways.
"First, it's the understanding of the regional specifics in terms of consumer demands, culture as well as language," he says. "These are areas global cloud providers have difficulties with.
"Second, it is about the existing relationship operators have with their customers and the high amount of trust people have in their operator. Would you prefer to store your data and photos with your trusted mobile operator or with some company on the Internet?"
Living up to expectations
However, with consumer trust in their operators high, it leaves their expectations high, too.
This means operators cannot afford to sacrifice any quality in their cloud services in comparison to what is available from independent providers today.
"Users will be happy to try their operators' cloud services when they become available," Krenn says. "But as soon as customer experience doesn't meet expectations, users will leave and not return to the service for a long time. Customer satisfaction as a whole could be threatened."
El Nadi adds: "Cloud means telcos will need to continually evaluate their differentiated service offering, revisit commercial models, and leverage their core skills and assets, coupled with the mutualised cloud infrastructures to establish new revenue streams."
The other aspect is the need for the telcos to have a more collaborative approach with other B2E segments that can help them provide complimentary product offerings while leveraging the vast arsenal of assets they have, such as network bandwidth and customer proximity, says Stephen Fernandes, Assistant Vice President and Head of the Middle East, Cognizant.
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