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How Service Providers Can Win in Cloud Services for Business

A real-world use case that reveals addressable gaps in today's public clouds.

Gaps are beginning to appear in public cloud services as more businesses start digital or become digital. It turns out that self-serve cloud offerings aren’t always business-ready and can fail in ways that create substantial business disruption. Service providers have an opportunity to combine their traditional engineering expertise with virtual service provider capabilities to differentiate themselves, make cloud services business-ready and win big in the business cloud market.

Business Disruption Strikes

Imagine a thriving, cloud-based digital business that has led the market in digitalizing sign-ups and payments for summer camps across the US. This growing business is preparing for camp sign-up day, its busiest day of the year. Its customers depend on this business to make their sign-up and payment process seamless; without those processes, they can’t do business. When sign-up day arrives, parents – their customers’ customers – are poised over their laptops and mobile devices. This public cloud-based business believes its cloud provider, a known leader in the market, is ready to scale and support its most important day. That’s when the worst case scenario hits: the sign-up and payment website goes down. What happened?

When Public Cloud Services Aren’t Business Ready

The summer camp sign-up company receives a message from its public cloud provider announcing a regional outage that has disrupted every business that uses cloud services in that region. As a result, the company can’t serve its customers because it can’t receive sign-ups or payments. The business has to email all of its customers to in turn notify parents that sign-up day will have to be postponed because of the outage. This is a complete business disruption and an awful way for a growing digital business to learn about site diversity and recovery. But these are concepts that aren’t new to communications service providers; creating diversity and recovery plans is a core part of most communication service provider’s engineering skillset.

This is not a made up story; it happened just a few weeks ago. This object lesson reveals a fundamental weakness in many cloud providers’ services that communications service providers can address and improve upon, particularly with virtual service provider offerings.

Understanding the Business-Ready Cloud

Cloud services must become business-ready as digital businesses grow and become critical channels through which other physical businesses engage customers, collect orders and process payments. A cloud service isn’t business-ready if it can’t inherently provide features like site diversity and automated fail-over. The benefit of leveraging network and service virtualization technology to make the cloud business-ready is that it was originally designed for the type of scenario described. Virtualization originally derived from a need to overcome catastrophic failures so that network services could persist, in an automated fashion, when large portions of networks were no longer functioning.

How Service Providers Win

Service providers have the knowledge and skills necessary to raise customer expectations and define what it means for cloud services to be business-ready. They have the skills and engineering knowledge required to design resilient services that minimize business disruption risk. Taking advantage of network and service virtualization technology, they can offer business-ready public cloud services that recover automatically in the face of large-scale outages. That makes for a key differentiator in the hotly contested digital cloud environment and it’s a fundamental benefit that will underlie every other application-based service they offer. With virtual service provider capabilities designed for business in the cloud, service providers can put themselves in a great position to raise the bar on business requirements and win.