A number of companies are assisting, or at least attempting to assist, carriers and other service providers to develop cloud capabilities. We refer to them as “enablers.” In addition, major carriers have either developed some cloud offerings on their own or acquired cloud companies.
The basic concept behind much of the activity of enablers in this area is that carrier networks are essential to cloud implementation and performance and that these networks have capabilities built into them, and also develop information about users, that could be valuable in various cloud apps.
The enablers who are assisting carriers have taken some different approaches, which were illustrated in a series of interviews that M2CS did with them. In this commentary we discuss the initiatives of: Aepona. (See other commentaries re: Neustar, Synchronoss and Ericsson.)[Update: Aepona, was acquired by Intel in May 2013.]
Aepona sells software platforms to service providers and related companies, designed to leverage network capabilities with the mobile cloud. They are focused on helping to address the issue of what will be the role of carriers in the development of the mobile cloud and how carriers can turn basic network capabilities into elements of revenue-generating cloud services or features.
The basic model is that. Aepona assists the carriers to develop service capabilities, based on their network capabilities and data (such as billing, QoS (quality of service), ability to sense customer context, such as presence and location and the ability to provision bandwidth based upon the requirements of specific apps). This is intended to enable developers to develop apps in conjunction with the carriers, which will lead to a revenue sharing or other revenue-generating arrangement with the carriers.
The company states that the market acceptance of its approach is good from tier 1 carriers and is spreading to tier 2 carriers.
Aepona also assists what it labels as “Cloud Service Provider” companies. These are communications-related, non-carrier companies that are interested in providing cloud services. Aepona lists carriers such as Vodafone, Belgacom and Rogers as clients and Neustar as an example of the Cloud Service Provider companies it is working with. The company also offers services to cable providers and payment service providers (especially the ability to bill directly through cellular carrier billing.) The company also points out that its capabilities can be added to a range of enterprise and business cloud solutions for areas such as mobile marketing, mobile wallet, CRM, enterprise collaboration and several others.
Aepona refers to its basic service concept as Network As A Service, NaaS. The NaaS capability is offered through the company’s AMP, API Monetization Platform. The company offers its Services Aggregation and Merchandizing SAM platform that allows carriers to aggregate and manage services and integrate third party (such as developers) services. It provides what Aepona describes as “an eligibility management system” that enables creation of a range of customer solutions. It also contains ordering, provisioning and billing capabilities as well as the ability to manage third-party partners and manage settlements with partners.
Aepona has been a leading force in developing the OneAPI consortium, which is pushing the concept of network based cloud applications and multi-carrier apps. The company is also working closely with the Small Cell Forum, which in early 2012 chose Aepona to develop the Reference Implementation platform for its Developer API Initiative. One application would be to offer information, when authorized about a user’s location and movement within small cell ranges.
The major issues faced by Aepona are the long lead times for most carrier decision-making and the issue of developing a convincing strategy for the carriers of how to generate new revenues from the services. Both of these issues are affected by traditional pricing inflexibility of most carriers.