Summary:

What do telcos stand to gain from the cloud? Deutsche Telekom’s IT services wing is spelling it out, forecasting that a seventh of its revenues will come from cloud services in a couple years’ time. However, it’s worth examining what T-Systems actually means by ‘cloud’.

T-Mo

Analysts at Ovum recently predicted that the cloud will be one of the few bright spots for telecoms providers’ near-future revenues. And now Deutsche Telekom’s T-Systems division is backing up that sentiment, touting a series of high-profile contract wins and predicting €1 billion ($1.32 billion) in cloud revenues in 2015.

What’s more, T-Systems said it also plans to make all its business processes “cloud-capable”, and to simplify its organizational structure accordingly. But what exactly does “cloud-capable” mean? Is this cloudwashing, or a real technological shift?

Structure Europe 2012 Max Cooter Cloud Pro Chris Swan UBS Juergen Urbanski T-Systems

(L to R) Max Cooter, Editor, Cloud Pro; Chris Swan, CTO, Client Experience, UBS; Juergen Urbanski, VP of Cloud Architectures, Cloud Technologies and Enabling Platforms, T-Systems Structure Europe 2012 JULIADEBOER PHOTOGRAPHY http://www.juliadeboer.com

Let’s look at those recent ‘cloud’ contract wins. The big one is a record-breaker for Deutsche Telekom in terms of duration: T-Systems will provide IT services for the Singapore Sports Hub complex for the next 21 years. It’s a public-private partnership with the Singaporean government, and it will involve the provision of CRM, ERP, access control, a user portal and an event management tool.

Over in Brazil, T-Systems will host business-critical applications for the Casa & Video retail chain, in a deal that covers SAP services, card payments and IT infrastructure for online shopping and teleshopping (these are described as “data center services from the cloud”). And in Switzerland, T-Systems has scored a contract extension with air travel service provider dnata, taking in SAP infrastructure again, as well as computing capacity.

These are just the wins T-Systems is talking about now. Others in recent months have also included BP (a Microsoft Exchange 2010 deployment), car-maker SEAT (data center and ICT infrastructure services) and Shell (SAP again).

I personally think it would be fair to look at that rundown and conclude that a lot of it — most of it — just comes down to plain old managed services. After all, that’s what telcos have traditionally been good at, so this is in many ways evolution rather than a transformation.

Nonetheless, it should give you a pretty good idea of what analysts mean when they talk up telcos’ chances in the ‘cloud’. T-Systems certainly sees it as a distinct avenue for the future: the division calculates that that €1 billion in cloud takings during 2015 will represent one seventh of that year’s total revenues.

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