Communications service providers (CSPs) such as ISPs and telecommunications companies understand the idea of providing elastic, pay-per-use services as well as customer management, and as their range of services expands they are well placed to take on not only traditional providers of outsourced compute, storage and network services, but also the "superplatforms" such as Amazon Web Services.
CSPs' existing - and in the case of telcos, massive - customer bases cover enterprise, SME and consumer, putting them in a good position as they increasingly offer cloud services.
Their customers are interested in getting what they want at a fair price, and are less concerned about where it comes from, Accenture Australia cloud computing lead Alison Cairns (pictured above) told iTWire.
"Not everyone wants to be innovative," Ms Cairns said, but cloud provides an opportunity for those who want to take it.
She noted two characteristics that identify "the clever CSPs." One is that they have developed security expertise, and are able to offer appropriate levels of security to meet different clients' requirements.
The other is that they have formed partnerships with other organisations - even if they are seen as competitors in some regards - in order to deliver a complete package to their clients.
But in situations where a CSP has only been able to assemble say 95% of the picture, Accenture can help with the integration of the missing pieces, either for the CSP to round out its offering ("that's been very successful," Ms Cairns observed), or directly for a specific client.
Either way, the elastic, pay-as-you-go nature of cloud computing is preserved.
Another thing leading CSPs have done, she said, is to start by 'cloudifying' their internal IT, and then moved to exploit that expertise by taking on the role of a cloud service broker and assembling particular packages of services to meet a client's requirements.
Accenture does operate in that space. The Accenture Cloud Platform provides access to a range of cloud services from a single management tool, making it easier to deploy particular workloads to appropriate services. For example, test and development may be suited to low-cost providers, whereas enterprise applications need to run on a service with high levels of availability and reliability.
"We're about nine months ahead of everyone else," said Ms Cairns, but "the clever CSPs worldwide are out there creating brokerages," for example by reselling Amazon Web Services alongside their own cloud services.