How Cloud Services Are Changing The Telecom Game

The State Of The Cloud

The cloud is the hottest thing to happen to the telecommunications industry since IP-based communications began replacing plain old telephone service. The cloud has introduced a new way to deliver service, and carriers are providing connectivity -- the way to get to the cloud.

Executives from Verizon Enterprise Solutions, Comcast Business and IBM talked up the cloud during the Infrastructure Services Roundtable at the XChange 2015 conference hosted by The Channel Company, the publisher of CRN. Here is their take on the state of cloud services today, the opportunities service providers are seeing in the cloud, and how partners will be critical to boosting cloud adoption.

Craig Schlagbaum, Comcast Business

Craig Schlagbaum, Comcast Business vice president of indirect channels, called recent cloud sales success in the channel "meteoric." Solution providers are partnering with carriers and cloud providers in record numbers because of the recurring revenue model, he said.

"We are seeing all-time records being hit with sales through the channel, and it's because adoption of cloud is driving partners to become more involved in this space," Schlagbaum said.

Schlagbaum Continued

Without connectivity, there is no cloud, Comcact's Schlagbaum said. It's also an important reason why carriers should be involved in the cloud.

"In our view, there's two things left in life. There's the applications and the cloud infrastructure that drives them, and then there is the data networks and connectivity and the networks that carry the bits -- those two things. We're on the network side that carries the bits. The applications are driving that piece, but it's changing the fundamentals of the channel in general," he said.

Schlagbaum Part 3

As the cloud shakes up the way telecom companies deliver services, it's also changing the way partners provide value to their end customers around carrier services. Comcast's Schlagbaum was bullish on the idea that the channel's value will be in providing consulting and migration services around cloud.

"It's a very lucrative business model, the model of agency. I see that as being much more mainstream over time. For those service providers who [follow] that model … it's not about control of the bill," he said.

Adam Famularo, Verizon

The cloud is encouraging solution providers to think about the bigger IT picture, said Adam Famularo, global channel vice president at Verizon.

"Traditional resellers that may have not sold any networking in the past are now looking at it in a different light since it's a fundamental piece that attaches their own private IP network to the cloud," Famularo said. "Partners can deliver a more complete customer solution from the application, right through to the network and the cloud."

Famularo Continued

Helping enable partners to sell cloud-based services starts with encouraging the traditional technology reseller partners to "think a little bit differently," Verizon's Famularo said, in order to include both cloud and networking in their overall portfolios.

"Every single one of our customers is driving the partners to think about how cloud is being orchestrated as part of their IT stack. That drives [partners] to actually look deeper into full solutions, from the network to the software to the applications, straight through to the cloud service that it runs on. That's a change in the game," he said.

Dave Carlquist, IBM

According to IBM Vice President of Worldwide Channels Dave Carlquist, the adoption rate of cloud is still partially "gated" because of customer demand patterns and preferences, as well as the readiness of the channel, he said.

"The cloud services opportunity is like a wave that we've seen on the horizon -- you know it's coming in your direction, not quite sure of the scale but it's getting bigger as it comes closer," Carlquist said.

Providing selling model options, as well as a breadth of capabilities to partners, will be critical in "enabling them to adapt to this wave that's crashing onto the shore," he said.

Carlquist Continued

One way to boost cloud adoption is to get more partners on board with selling cloud services because customers trust their technology partners, IBM's Carlquist said.

"One of the benefits I see on the cloud is the ability to deploy technology faster and to develop applications faster, and to mash up and bring together Capability A with Capability B. That comes from just ingenuity, innovation, and skills -- and the channel is core to that," he said.