Joyent unveiled plans this week to sell its Infrastructure as a Service software to mobile operators, offering them a platform to spin up their own clouds in an alliance with other mobile operators running the same software. Given that few mobile carriers have the expertise or time to build out an iCloud service themselves, Joyent is giving them a way to get into the game and through an alliance, thus spreading the risk among multiple players.
Joyent described the alliance, called the Global Cloud Network (GCN) for mobile carriers, as the cloud computing equivalent of the airline industry’s Star Alliance program, designed to bring together global service providers under a common set of APIs and infrastructure.
It’s a clever strategy when you consider the explosive growth of mobile apps and smart devices, which are increasingly being designed to rely on the cloud. However, many mobile operators are sitting on the sidelines and do not have a cloud strategy yet. They are under attack from OTT players that have relegated them to a commodity and from device manufacturers that are building out their own back-end cloud services.
To regain their center of gravity in the industry, Joyent is hoping it will convince mobile carriers that they need to become a platform themselves where mobile app developers, game developers, platform as a service providers, online retailers and others can build and run their services directly, using Joyent’s software of course.
So who has joined up? Well, Spanish telco Telefonica is part of Joyent’s mobile cloud alliance, but that’s hardly surprising. Telefonica Digital, the growth arm of Telefonica, is a strategic investor in Joyent. And that’s it so far. Jason Hoffman, co-founder and CTO of Joyent said the company has an Indian carrier coming onboard soon, but he wasn’t able to share any names. Other carriers in mobile-first markets including Africa and Indonesia are also expected to join the alliance.
But don’t expect to see many U.S. mobile operators in Joyent’s alliance any time soon. Not that they shouldn’t be, but my suspicion is they are currently attempting to build the software themselves. Good luck with that AT&T!