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Telecom Firms Grappling With the Grid

CHICAGO -- Security, performance and lack of effective business models are the major challenges standing between telecom providers and the provision of lucrative grid-based services to their customers, according to sources at the Global Grid Forum's meeting here at Supercomm.

With prices for services such as VOIP becoming increasingly commoditized, telecom vendors are now looking to offer utility-computing-style services in an effort to open up additional revenue streams. However, this involves the development of complex grids that can run customers' diverse applications on the vendor's own server and storage infrastructure.

The problem for many telecom firms is how to adapt to support the fluctuations in demand required of grid-based computing. For example, a retail firm may need extremely high CPU and storage utilization around the Christmas period, or a film company may need to run an extremely resource-hungry application during the last few months of production.

Andrew Davey, senior manager at Sprint Corp. (NYSE: FON) admitted that finding a sufficiently scaleable business model to support all these diverse applications is easier said than done.

He says, "It's a challenge you need an infrastructure that enables the grid applications to be deployed quickly and ripped back down if the customers don't want them."

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