It’s hard to imagine life now without the Internet, or the mobile phone. And yet neither of them started life with a mass consumer audience in mind. Mobile phones were the preserve of the rich and famous, and the Internet was simply a way for academics and technologists to exchange and share information.
Despite their moves into the mainstream, there are elements of the language of both the Internet and the mobile phone that are rooted in the Geekdom – url, HTML, SMS, 4G – to name but a few.
What must the sceptics be thinking now – those who looked at the earliest mobiles and the first Internet exchanges, shook their heads and said “it’ll never catch on”. We use our phones to make everyday purchases just by tapping it on a machine in a coffee shop, and the world’s biggest retail store is an Internet-only shop with no high street presence.
More recently, the concept of “The Cloud” has started to filter through to the consumer. Once again, the idea of “storing” digital copies of our treasured possessions – not to mention our money – in the esoteric concept of a Cloud took a little while to pass into everyday use. A British newspaper once memorably added for its readers’ benefits – ‘not an actual cloud’ – when talking about cloud storage.
Just like the mobile phone and the Internet, Cloud storage began as business service, and has become a springboard for innovation and the platform for a whole host of business and consumer services.
In our own world of telecommunications, Cloud-based services are certainly on the rise. Mobile network operators are increasingly looking to virtualize services and are increasingly utilizing Cloud-based solutions in the process.
Among even the most hardware-dependent IT managers, the “it’ll never catch on” mentality is almost non-existent as they look to embrace Cloud technology as a key means of reducing capital expenditure and stripping out operational cost.
In the world of BSS we can see some parallels between the concept of BSS centralization and this move to the Cloud. In China, our major customers China Mobile and China Unicom were looking to centralize their billing and customer care solutions across the regional operating companies. In the process they hoped to achieve some economies of scale, enable new service approaches across the board, and yet deliver flexibility for each regional operator in the process.
It was some five years ago now that we responded to those challenges and provided China Mobile and China Unicom with a centralized, carrier-grade BSS solution in a private cloud deployment – giving their operating companies access to the features and benefits of a modern BSS but with scope for tariffing flexibility and customization within that core structure.
We have come a long way since then, and in the future, we can expect even more core telco services and solutions to be Cloud-based. It’s a trend that is gathering pace, and the smartest operators are at the forefront, looking to build market advantage.
Forget it’ll never catch on – it’s time to get on board the cloud express, otherwise you might never catch up.
Tagged: AsiaInfo, Billing, BSS, cloud billing, Cloud Core, Michael Wu, Telecom operators