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Can the Telecom Industry Help Forge Cloud Standards?

Doug is out today, so covering for him is Jeff Schwartz, editor at large for Redmond magazine and executive editor at RCP magazine:

Microsoft was among those that said it will participate in the Enterprise Cloud Buyers' Council (ECBC), a consortium of software, hardware and telecom providers gunning to forge interoperability, security and common service levels among cloud providers. The consortium was brought together by the TM Forum, a telecom industry association.

In addition to Microsoft, initial backers of the ECBC include IBM, CA, HP, Cisco and EMC, as well as telecom providers AT&T, BT, Telecom Italia and Nokia Siemens Networks. Noticeably absent were Amazon and Google.

The TM Forum maintains it will succeed for one key reason: It's relying on enterprise customers, who have raised key concerns about cloud services, to bring providers to the table.

The ECBC has six major enterprise customers on board from industries such as pharmaceuticals, retail and banking, and has also been conducting ongoing discussions with a number of key influencers, according to Keith Willetts, the TM Forum's chairman and CEO. Only two of those enterprise customers have revealed their membership: Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Deutsche Bank.

"We've historically brought together buyers and sellers to really get the buyer requirements of the supplier side lined up," Willetts tells me. "We've been doing that for quite some time for the communications industry."

But IT and telecom consultant Tom Nolle of CIMI Corp. tells me he's skeptical that the TM Forum will be able to move fast enough. Nolle withdrew his involvement in the TM Forum, saying it moved too slowly in providing standards among telecom carriers.

"I know how these things work and the problem is the buyers are helplessly trapped in a bureaucratic process, and the thing that worries me the most about their enterprise initiatives is that the enterprises have a shorter capital cycle than the providers," Nolle says.

I'm scheduled to talk with Microsoft about its involvement in the TM Forum next week. If you have any questions for them, drop me a line at [email protected].

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on December 11, 2009 at 11:53 AM


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