Are Telecom Operators the Future Cloud Brokers?

There were a lot of operators taking the stage at Cloud Connect conference in Santa Clara: NTT America, BT, AT&T, Verizon.. – talking about their strategy towards enterprises, how to deliver killer applications via cloud, how to use cloud infrastructure in order to deliver manage services. A lot of discussions were generated about the telecom operators becoming the future cloud brokers, given that the telecommunications providers have the expertise in combining their network with managing data centers and they can use this expertise in building competitive advantage as compared to other players. The operators provide the bandwidth, have the experience of delivering infrastructure – for them going to cloud should be just an extension of their core competencies in the cloud space. And of course and not the least: they have the clients base and integrated billing & monitoring systems allowing them to charge and provide real SLA’s to those clients. 
In an attempt to become credible on the cloud market and enhance the cloud portfolio some telecom operators acquired well known cloud providers, e.g. Verizon acquired Terremark and Cloud Switch. Others just played on the existing confidence of their customers and went along and launched themselves in the cloud market. The most impressive by far is BT with their 5 proposals: BT compute (data center service), BT one ( IP telephony & voice services), BT contact (call centers technology and personal), BT Connect (CRM) and BT assure (managed security services).
Seems that telecom operators are playing on the trust their clients is lending them for keeping their data safe and the capability to offer good SLA’s, but the major challenge faced by all operators is overcoming the reputation of providers of networks and data connectivity – but not being IT specialists. Still, on the stage of Cloud Connect all telco’s seemed confident about becoming major players in cloud in the future – all the cards are in their favor – and one of the conclusions in the air: Telco providers will be the trusted partners for the cloud. 
If only telco providers would capitalize on these assets and be more active towards their customers, take the risks and share/manage their clients uncertainty when moving to the cloud – probably this will separate pipe providers from real telco’s in the future.