Will telcos become the 'cloud brokers' for integration as a service?

Who will grab this huge multi-zillion-dollar opportunity and run with it? The likely candidates at this point are telcos, ISPs, or large infrastructure IT vendors. And one of these sectors already has an advantage.

As the cloud industry has unfolded before our eyes, there's been plenty of speculation about the potential roles of intermediaries that could broker cloud services to companies and individuals.

Who will grab this huge multi-zillion-dollar opportunity and run with it?  The likely candidates at this point are telcos, ISPs, or large infrastructure IT vendors.

Loraine Lawson recently explored this topic, pointing to indications that existing telcos and Internet Service Providers are in prime territory to capitalize on this space.  However, she says the customer service end of telcos still need a little work. Nonetheless, as Susanna Schwartz points out, the telcos are already there and waiting, with millions already invested in data center hosting facilities. And they already have most customers -- from enterprises to Joe consumer -- in their billing cycles.

Schwartz adds that this has implications for well-entrenched IT vendors:

"In essence, carriers would become cloud service “brokerages” in their own right. They could charge for the value-added services on a single bill, which would be convenient for their enterprise customers. And offering B2B integration 'as a service' means carriers could more readily enable innovation by offering solutions from different vendors through the cloud, eliminating the need to create or re-invent the wheel in creating new services on their own. Once service providers offer such cloud integration services, enterprises can access a broader range of software services—paying only for what they use. This could better position telcos against the likes of Salesforce, Google, and Microsoft in the cloud market."

Who would be the best choice for providing integration as a service for those companies looking to go this route?  Perhaps with so many industry groups in contention, the competition will be healthy for customers. Let's hope it stays competitive.