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Cloud Ecosystem and Platforms Competition

Including an interview with Anne BOUVEROT, Director General GSMA
No. 85 - Cloud ecosystem and platforms competition

Cloud ecosystem
and platforms competition

Edited by Jacques CREMER, Yves GASSOT,
Bruno LANVIN & Lorenzo Maria PUPILLO

Montpellier, April 02, 2012 – IDATE has just published its latest COMMUNICATIONS & STRATEGIES dossier dedicated to "Cloud ecosystem and platforms competition".

Cloud computing is substantially changing the way computing is performed. Indeed, it allows for on demand self-services, resources pooling to serve multiple users using multi-tenant models, elastic provision of capacity, better control and use of resources through measured services.
Content in the cloud is opening the way for a vast array of content and innovative applications. However, the benefits of cloud computing, come along with additional challenges in the area of privacy, security, consumer protection, …

The papers selected for this special issue develop various thoughts on these issues. They provide original analysis of the platforms competition, and flexible and adaptable approach on the policy side as well as innovative technical and market solutions.


Interview with Anne BOUVEROT,
Director General GSMA
Conducted by Yves GASSOT (IDATE-DigiWorld Institute)

C&S: Do we need to accept migration to the cloud as key to the mobile sector's development? Is there any element that is specific to the mobile cloud?  

Anne BOUVEROT: I think that the cloud is certainly going to be associated with and have a significant impact on mobile telecoms in the years ahead, but we will use the term in many contexts to describe a number of different things. Defining the cloud is the hardest piece. I like to think of it as having the power of a million computers in the palm of your hand but it does not weigh anything and you do not have to worry about the IT. I like this definition as it helps you understand that the processing power and storage possibilities are almost endless. 
Today in the mobile world, the cloud is typically seen as a place for remote storage, and for more advanced customers a source of remote processing power. Many of us have used consumer services like Apple's iCloud and business-oriented services like Google Docs already. These services will continue to develop and can offer users many benefits in a multi-screen world, with the automatic syncing of your content, documents and applications. 
Our mobile operator members are also using cloud type architectures for their own internal services and platforms. A great example is NTT DOCOMO in Japan who are providing real time language translation services to their customers using the cloud infrastructure. 
But I think that we are just at the beginning of an exciting development cycle. I don't believe we need to think of the cloud differently in the context of mobile versus fixed networks, but we do need to remember that the vast majority of the worlds population will access cloud type services only through mobile, so we should always think of the cloud through a mobile lens first.  

C&S: In what ways would the ubiquitous use of cloud architectures alter the mobile internet as we know it? Is it likely to undermine the app store and download model for smartphones? Will HTML 5 play a major part in opening up the mobile internet ecosystem? Do you think this will do anything to shake up the current duopoly in the smartphone OS market?  

A. B.: I am not sure I would say that the cloud will alter the mobile internet as we know it - I think its better to think of it as enhancing an already compelling proposition.  Certainly mobile apps will continue to flourish, with billions already downloaded today. HTML 5 will not significantly change the nature or user experience of applications. It merely provides an alternative delivery technology that I think will become very popular. 
The emergence of HTML5 has the potential to provide more competition in the OS space in the future, and this is always a welcome development for consumers. That said, there are a lot of trends that could develop out of the move to HTML5. For example how closely are the browser and OS integrated, and actually does the browser become the OS?
There is a possibility that in the HTML5 world, influence may balance out between the current application ecosystem providers, the handset makers and the mobile operators which I believe would be a welcome development, but the key as always will be to see who can provide the best user experience for the consumer. That is where the GSMA and its operator members are focused.  

C&S: To what extent are mobile operators concerned by the spread of cloudoriented architectures, in terms of the evolution of their network infrastructure? What consequences might users storing data and hosting applications in the cloud have on traffic and signalling? On security and quality of service? What issues might arise around cellular operators' interconnection with the internet giants' infrastructures? Will cellular telcos be forced to invest in the cloud and, if so, for which functions or services?  

A. B.: Mobile operators are not concerned about cloud services per se, as long as they are implemented in a responsible fashion. What is clear is that the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, and the rise of applications are driving massive increases in data traffic on networks. They are also driving a huge increase in application signalling traffic, in many ways as troubling as the data traffic. Our mobile operator community, through the GSMA, recently published a set of Application Efficiency Guidelines that aim to educate developers on how best to build applications that respect and conservatively use the network resources. 
I believe that Security and Quality of Service (QoS) are certainly great strengths for the mobile operator community, and are areas that they can leverage in the future as competitive advantages. A consumer value proposition that says that an operator can provide you services with a guaranteed QoS in a secure fashion while protecting your privacy is a very strong offer. 
In terms of the interconnection between the operators networks and the internet giants, it is fair to say that mobile operators will continue to push for a set of business terms that aligns the investment required to support new services, with the revenues that the services generate. Network traffic continues to grow at an exponential rate, and it seems impossible to me that we will not find a mechanism to share the costs of infrastructure investment with the over the top players that are offering the services. By doing this I believe we will have a sustainable industry and continue to invest in the network capabilities of the future..  

C&S: Do you think the cloud will play a role in furthering the convergence between wireline and wireless broadband?  

A. B.: The important thing to remember about cloud based services and applications is that it is not so much about the convergence of fixed and mobile networks - it's about the decoupling of applications from specific access methods and devices. As an example I want to be able to watch my TV at home, pause it, continue watching on my mobile device, and then maybe when I get to my end location watch the end of a program on my computer. These types of scenarios are attainable through the cloud. So I would say that the cloud is about agnostic access rather than convergence.  

C&S: Is there anything that can be learned from telecoms that could improve the consumer's cloud services as a whole?  

A. B.: A core pillar of the mobile industry is the interoperability of services across operators and countries. This is the foundation that made GSM technology the success that it is today. As we embark into a world of cloud services, the ability to provide services that are interoperable across different clouds will be equally key. These capabilities will come to the fore when customers want to leave one cloud service and move to another. For example, if you have mission critical content, some business applications and maybe other forms of data stored in one provider's cloud, you should have the capability to move it to another providers cloud. Or if as a consumer you have your music and pictures with one provider and you want to move to a phone with a different OS and cloud, you should be able to do so. Under the current vertically integrated and technically separated market for cloud services, it is not clear how this could take place and how the cost of the migration would be covered. I believe that in the future we will see a consumer push for a greater degree of interoperability and compatibility between cloud providers to enable consumer portability. 
In the mobile world, this kind of commonality and portability of service has been in place for some time. Mobile operators realised the benefit of an interoperable ecosystem and have actively maintained and guarded this capability. SMS is a great example of the power of a globally interoperable service. Applying this in the cloud world, there could be distinct benefits at layers such as authentication, security and portability that would make your cloud service a much more dynamic offering, and perhaps more importantly, drive some good service based competition.

Short biography:
Anne BOUVEROT is Director General and Member of the Board of the GSMA. Before joining the GSMA, Anne was Executive Vice President for Mobile Services for France Telecom Orange, where she defined the strategic priorities and led transformation programmes for the mobile business and was also responsible for the selection of mobile devices sold to customers with mobile offers. She previously was responsible for international business development at France Telecom Orange, and her achievements include the privatisation of Telkom Kenya, new mobile licences in Armenia and Tunisia, and partnerships in Portugal and UAE. Prior to France Telecom Orange, Anne led a business unit of Equant and was responsible for developing IT services for Equant's multinational business customers. She began her career in telecommunications as project manager for Telmex in Mexico in 1991. Anne holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mathematics and computer science from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris and an M.S. degree from Telecom Paris.

Sophie NIGON
Managing Editor



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