Connecting through the Cloud

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Connecting through the Cloud (The Week Series II)

Rajesh Rege, Senior Vice President, Data Center and Cloud, Cisco India and SAARC

The evolution of technology and an ever expanding collection of services are today helping consumers to connect from anywhere in order to live, work, play, and learn. Increasing broadband penetration and availability of a host of personal devices-Smartphones, Tablets, netbooks and laptops is enabling to easily share content and get personal updates online. Besides enhancing the 'digital lifestyle,' this is also leading to an increase in the quantity of data that is being exchanged (from kilobytes of digital text to terabytes of digital media).

As they access varied types of content, consumers of today prefer a consistent, personalized experience that accommodates their content preferences, access types, and chosen devices. They seek technology solutions to help enhance their experience by enabling connectivity from any Internet-enabled device and from any location and switch seamlessly from one device to another. Technologies like cloud computing can enable consumers to easily sharing content and ensure that devices connected are remotely monitored so new capabilities can be added immediately.

Data back-up and sync among devices happen automatically from the Cloud so consumers can view, access, and manage data from any Internet-enabled device and share information with friends and contacts. Access to movies, TV shows, and music from multiple sources is possible through a single portal or user interface and users can switch services seamlessly from one device to another. Whenever there is a problem, the service provider remotely monitors and automatically fixes the problem so consumers need not seek the assistance of 'customer care' executives for problem resolution.

Consumer' utilizing the Cloud for enhancing their user experience is not a very new concept. It all began nearly 15 years with the launch of Hotmail as one of the first web-based email services. Hotmail today boasts of more than 400 million users worldwide. Facebook with its millions of users is also a cloud based service with photo and media hosting capabilities and comes with popular game 'apps' such as 'Farmville' which piggy-back on its platform. There are a host of other popular cloud services like Flickr, and a myriad of web-connected Smartphone apps which store and retrieve data from the Cloud and enable consumer to connect and access data when and where they want to.

The market is also using cloud computing to help meet changing consumer needs. To cite an example, Comcast announced initiatives in extending and integrating IP technology to improve the customer experience, accelerate new-product launches, and expand cross-platform experiences; Apple unveiled iCloud, a cloud-computing service that stores music, photos, and documents remotely, as well as eliminating the need to sync devices to a PC. Similarly 55 members across industries have formed a digital entertainment content ecosystem called 'Ultra Violet' and are developing an open "common file format" standard designed to play on any service or device, enabling "buy once, play anywhere."

The future

Globally the adoption of Cloud computing has increased and is growing at a rapid pace. Going forward cloud computing applications like Utility software (such as maps), productivity tools (especially for sales, data sharing, and collaboration), social networking and search will lead to an increase in mobile data and in turn lead to an increase in the load on the network. Given the above, service providers must prioritize their offerings so that consumers benefit from a seamless user experience. By strategically adding cloud enhancements, service providers can differentiate their services. This will help balance coverage / impact and cost (optimization), align consumer expectations to technology capabilities, help get a good ROI in their respective business segments and create high brand value.

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