The presence of Japanese carriers in the cloud services market is growing. Since the beginning of 2009, these companies have been introducing new services, expanding their cloud services' line-up, adding new features, and enhancing their collaboration with partnering companies. One of the characteristics of cloud services provided by carriers in Japan is that they mainly focus on the cloud infrastructure segment or Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).
These carriers, who are also major hosting service providers, are able to leverage their knowledge on server implementation and operations; they are able to bundle their networks with cloud services, as well as providing a more secure cloud environment with virtual private networks (VPNs). Furthermore, by combining both their networks and distributed data center facilities, the carriers are able to develop cloud services with greater redundancy. In the area of cloud applications (Software-as-a-Service or SaaS), aside from collaborative applications, the carriers have been reinforcing their service line-up with partnering companies.
That said, as the cloud services market grows and opportunities increase, the carriers are also facing new challenges. For example, the description of cloud applications provided on a website is often inadequate for user companies who search online to understand whether the application is suitable for the company. In addition, the rapid growth of service providers has led to a sudden drop in prices. In order to prevent a price war, IDC believes service providers will have to be able to successfully differentiate themselves with features such as reliability and value added services. Otherwise, their survival will be at stake.
"As the market becomes more competitive, it is important for Japanese carriers become more efficient running their web-based customer interfaces, and develop processes that enhance customer satisfaction. In addition, in the cloud infrastructure segment, carriers should leverage both their cost competitiveness on facilities and cloud services operations, as well as their R&D capabilities to successfully develop differentiation," states Akiko Kawakami, senior market analyst, Communications Research, IDC Japan.