New Business Models for the Cloud and Communications

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White Paper by Martin Geddes: The Cloud and Communications: Rethinking the Business Model for Telephony, Unified Communications, and Social Media to meet the needs of Modern Commerce

Audio interview via

Interview Excerpts

Report author Martin Geddes interviewed by Lee Dryburgh:

"The Cloud and Communications" and it's "Rethinking the Business Model for Telephony, Unified Communications, and Social Media to meet the needs of Modern Commerce". Hey, sounded a little dry at the end there. Give me a quick synopsis.

Martin: This paper is a weigh mark on me drawing out the map of this territory of the new converged ITN telecoms industry, or whatever we want to call it. And the paper's core thesis is that the cloud is much more than just cheap plumbing for IT. Any discussion of the cloud that doesn't also include some consideration of what's happening in the communications space, particularly personal communications, the tools that we all use every day to talk to each other, is really incomplete. And the future of those communication tools is intimately tied up in the cloud in new business models enabled by the cloud.

Lee: Can I jump back a little bit because lots of people are using the term "cloud". In many senses, if you take the telecom network, the traditional telecom network then, its centralized components, telephones are sharing the memory and processing of centralized components. Surely, the telecom network is a cloud network.

Martin: It's very similar to one, and you could say Cloud v0.1 is the PSTN. The API let's you embed that cloud application into your other services and it's called SS7 and it's very useful. There's a problem with this cloud, which runs one, maybe two applications of telephony and SMS. That is a rather severe limitation, that it doesn't have the flexibility and indeed those two applications, we managed to bend and twist them and incorporate them into our different patterns of being. But they're fundamentally patterned on old analog technologies and old analog ways of thinking and being.

Lee: The cloud, are you seeing as sort of going back to mainframe days?

Martin: Actually in some ways something completely different, going off in a different angle about the cloud, which is not seeing the cloud as being a technological phenomenon at all, but being much more of a socioeconomic one. If you think of a pattern that's occurred four or five times over the last 200 years of getting coal up the ground and putting it into machines so you can start - mechanical energy to amplify our efforts and then you put on the wheels and you've got a steam train. You start producing oil and electricity and you get all these different revolutions.

Each time you've got a new, cheap source of amplification of human effort, well the cloud is a comparable revolution. It helps amplify ideas and information, and the result of that is a change in the patterns of how we live and how we live and how we conduct business. If you focus primarily on virtualization and centralization of IT into datacenters and mainframe like stuff you're missing the real story, which is not about the technology at all.

Lee: Just staying on technology just for a moment, when you're saying "cloud", often it's just being used to mean that you access application via the web browser. We had Yahoo mail in the '90s. You were accessing your email. It didn't seem that exciting. I'm wondering what's getting hyped here?

Martin: What's the thing that's new and different? As everyone points out, it's that we've been doing hosted applications for the best part of two decades, and what's changed? What's different here is the ability to extract and exploit the information that exists within these applications and string the applications together to create new kinds of value.

The way in which Google Maps can be embedded into some other application and the intelligence that Google has about you and your location from latitude can be used in other contexts. Each application provides some source of cheap information that other applications can then consume. It's really seeing the rise of something a little bit analogous to the Internet.

We think of the Internet as a thing but it's not really a thing. It's a sort of agreements to exchange packets between different networks. The comparable thing, let's call it the "sky" rather than the "cloud", is a set of agreements to be able to exchange information between different cloud based applications, just like Google let's me sign a terms of service to use Google Maps inside my application.

In some ways, the cloud is just like Ethernet or IP. It's just a way of delivering a thing, but the real interesting thing is not Ethernet or IP, but in the case of the Internet or in the case of the cloud, it's what we might call the sky, which is the connected thing that changes the world." (

More Information

  1. Cloud Computing