Weinman: Biz, ecosystem are keys to cloud evolution

The other big trend is that the cloud is likely to be increasingly multi-media

These days, cloud computing may be the hottest topic in IT industry as many firms are planning to unleash cloud service or already starting to deploy cloud service.

In the coming years, "we may begin to see more in the way of business model, ecosystem, and pricing evolution," Joe Weinman, AT&T vice president of strategy and business development, said.

Weinman will deliver a keynote speech titled "Cloudonomics: How the Cloud Generates Value" at the 'Cloud & Data Center World 2010' conference, which is hosted by IDG Korea on April 7th and 8th at JW Marriott Hotel.

Before the conference, Weinman shared on the role of telcos and importance of business model and ecosystem in the era of cloud computing evolution, in an email interview with IDG Korea.

1. Please describe your role in AT&T.

I am responsible for strategy and business development, which entails evaluating macro-trends among large global enterprises, identifying new technology trends, qualifying new business relationships, and helping to communicate AT&T's global capabilities in the cloud computing space and the advantages of the cloud with our leading clients globally, including in Korea and elsewhere in the Asia/Pacific region.

2. Cloud Computing has been a controversial term, and now the term is set to be defined by many industry experts. What is your view of cloud computing?

Yes, there are a number of definitions. My definition is a simple acronym: a CLOUD is a Common, Location-independent, Online, Utility, on-Demand service. Commonality across multiple tenants is key to generation of economic value, because statistical multiplexing reduces total cost and investment.

Location-independence is expected: cloud services should be available ubiquitously, and the details of where the services are provided should not be a concern of the user. Online networks are key to making the cloud work. Utility, or usage-sensitive pricing, is essential to delivering value to clients compared to owned, dedicated--and often underutilized--capacity. And on-Demand is key to enhancing business agility. With this model in mind, electric utilities, rental car chains, and global hotel chains are all "CLOUDs". This approach can generate a clear and compelling customer value proposition as well as a fair business model for service providers.

3. What is telco's role in the cloud computing industry?

If by "telco" we mean a wireline and/or wireless voice and data carrier, then there are several key ways in which telcos are critically important to the cloud. First is the cloudbursting scenario, where peaks in demand "overflow" out of the enterprise data center and into the cloud computing service provider environment. When you look at the architectural requirements, optical transport networks and MPLS VPNs are key to enabling this scenario. Second is the content and application delivery scenario, where global transport facilities are needed to deliver content over a backbone network and/or VPN services. Third is security, where the network is the first line of defense in protecting enterprise and hybrid enterprise-cloud environments from DDoS attacks and spam and viruses. There, network-based firewalls, anti-DDoS, and related techniques are key. AT&T, however, provides a broader range of services that just access and transport, since we are also a cloud services provider spanning compute- and storage-as-a-service as well as a broad range of managed applications, including CRM, financials, messaging, unified communications, and middleware.

4. How do you perform the role in the industry?

AT&T is the world's largest communications holding company in the world, based on revenue. We own and operate 38 Internet Data Centers globally, including over 10 here in the Asia/Pacific region. We tie them together with a resilient optical mesh undersea A/P cable network, and layer in advanced IP/MPLS services. We offer a variety of capabilities including content delivery networks, cloud computing, and security services. This means that customers have access to a variety of services, including co-lo, managed hosting, and scalable cloud compute, content, and storage services, to build next-generation IT solutions.

5. How do you draw AT&T's cloud computing business model?

We span Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service, Software-as-a-Service and a variety of Managed Application Services such as content delivery and security on a global basis. We believe that a combination of advanced mobile and fixed endpoints, coupled with being a leader in IP services for businesses, tied together with a globally distributed footprint of cloud services provides a unique and compelling value proposition to our global customers. When you combine that with our more traditional managed hosting services and a strong portfolio of security and managed services, we have the ability to provide a broad range of secure, managed, end-to-end services for clients globally.

6. How much percentage is cloud computing & data center related business take place in AT&T's profit models?

We don't publicly report results at that level of granularity. However, cloud computing and related cloud services, such as hosted managed IP PBXs and Voice over IP, Video services such as the AT&T Telepresence solution, content delivery services, managed applications, and the advanced network solutions that make these all possible are a key part of AT&T's growth and global leadership.

7. How do you expect the future of the cloud computing industry?

Over the last few years, technology evolution has been a focus. In the coming years, we may begin to see more in the way of business model, ecosystem, and pricing evolution, such as spot pricing and auctions of infrastructure resources. If so, agents, brokers, buying councils, and other ecosystem participants may begin to be more prevalent. Also, hybrid enterprise-cloud solutions are appealing for a variety of reasons. Such scenarios may drive continued enhancements in areas such as Layer 1 optical transport, IP/MPLS, autonomic scaling management, dynamic geographic load balancing, IT service automation management, virtual server migration, dispersed cluster management, security, and other management tools.

8. Can you recommend the new technologies and trends we should focus on in next 5 year?

AT&T does not make any specific recommendations as to any technology or future market conditions. But we can share what we believe to be trends that bear watching, such as any technologies that enable hybrid solutions to work simply and effectively. This includes virtual machine technology, cluster management, dynamic pricing, yield management, security, virtual server migration, autoscaling managers, policy-based orchestration, global data management, "NoSQL" webscale database technologies, pricing transparency, capacity transparency, dynamic pricing "program trading" and real-time algorithms, and optical networks. The other big trend is that the cloud is likely to be increasingly multi-media, serving up video solutions for business. Consequently, everything from meta-data tagging, scene analysis, facial recognition, speech-to-text, avatars, text-to-speech, discovery, unstructured document management, transcoding, transrating, scalable vector graphics, voice over IP, video over IP, multi-point conference bridging, graphics processors, and optimized routing may be increasingly important.

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