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The Cloud Opportunity in Telecom – Anything and Everything as a Service

Fraud and Security, Opinion · 12/04/2016 · 4 min read

by Sinch

These days, companies can offer almost everything as-a-Service to leverage the benefits of cloud technology and provide business value to their customers. It is important to understand what “as-a-Service” means in each specific industry. For us at Symsoft, as a Telecommunications Solution Vendor, what do we mean by ”as-a-Service”?

As-a-Service definitions in IT

In a traditional Cloud context, there are a few definitions to facilitate dialogue within this space so that we all use the same lingo. The challenge in a Telco environment is that these definitions belong in the IT industry. As much as you want to claim that the two are now one, the IT industry and their ”Cloud” is mostly a tool for the Telco industry in the development of products and services that make sense to them. The IT industry’s cloud computing stack also clearly puts an end user at the top that, according to the model, can interface Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) that use a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) abstraction of the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) underneath. Modern end-user applications, or apps, are IT applications pure and simple, and as such they are well-defined already by the IT industry.

The as-a-Service term is very useful in a Telco setting because it puts en emphasis on how you want to move from boxed products to solutions delivered as services with all the benefits already well articulated by the IT industry. You cannot, however, just take those definitions and run with them without some serious consideration.

At Symsoft we contrast the two “as-a-Service stacks” against each other and make the following distinctions:

The term SaaS is useful to a Telco but it is predominantly useful for their IT environment. Any software delivered as-a-Service, e.g. a sales tool in the form of an app downloaded from an online marketplace, is well defined already by the IT industry and we stick to that definition.

The term PaaS has more merit in a Telco setting but in our view it is relevant higher up in the value chain. PaaS in a Telco setting provides greater end-user utility than it does in the IT industry. For example, one could say that a text message (SMS) sent from a mobile phone is similar to an HTTP request sent from a browser window. However, where the SMS provides a clear and well-defined utility to the end-user, the HTTP-request does not. The HTTP request is likely to be used by some layer higher up the value chain (cloud stack), like a SaaS, whereas the SMS is the “app” to the end-user. While you can deliver more specialized applications such as forwarding, filtering, group chats, information services and more on top of the SMS “app”, the basic SMS service delivered by a Telco platform provides end-user value in itself.

The biggest impact of a Telco-version of the as-a-Service definitions would be on the IaaS layer. The infrastructure in the IT world has the advantage of being based on an open architecture from the start. An open and free Internet that connects anyone to anything with free interconnectivity is far from the network realities of most network operators in the Telco industry. Diverse national regulations, bi-lateral agreements, specialized application-specific networks such as GRX and IPX, carrier hubs, and licensed spectrum for the Radio Access Network (RAN) make the networking resource in the Infrastructure layer much more complex in a Telco environment. And here be dragons in an added level of complexity that prevents the perfect abstraction of the underlying layers.

The below picture illustrates our view of the differences in the “as-a-Service stack” when comparing Telecom and IT.

Diagram illustrating our view of the differences in the “as-a-Service stack” when comparing Telecom and IT

The industry as a whole is taking great strides towards a unification of the Telecommunication and IT verticals but for many solution providers and vendors, there are still a number of challenges when applying the IT industry’s Cloud definitions for “as-a-Service” out of the box.

To Symsoft, the term as-a-Service means the fact that Communication Service Providers (CSPs) no longer need to buy a box to enable an end-user service. CSPs can invest in a Service from a trusted partner that lowers the risk in innovation, provides more streamlined cash flows, and shortens time to market for new end-user services. Our communications solutions can be provided as services but with some important network specific variations. Time will tell if the Telco industry adopts the IT industry’s Cloud definitions, but with or without them there is great value in the Cloud and we see an increasing market interest.

What do you think? Get in contact to continue the discussion and to learn more how your business can benefit from “Symsoft-as-a-Service”.

Originally posted on www.symsoft.com, find out more about Symsoft’s rebrand to Sinch in the press release here.