If there had been no development of cloud computing in the last few years, it would have been necessary to invent the cloud - just for mobile. The mobile cloud is a crucial and inevitable development that will have a massive effect on mobile communications and the entire IT industry in the coming years. In this study, we conclude that the mobile cloud will subsume cloud computing.
The accelerated development of the mobile cloud is being driven against the background of the underlying struggle between two groups of players:
This report - the first in Heavy Reading's new Mobile Cloud Survival Series - explores the importance of the mobile cloud to the entire telecom ecosystem and the future of information flow. It examines how the mobile cloud will over time subsume the fixed cloud and analyzes how the evolution of the mobile cloud will fundamentally transform major parts of the mobile business.
As this struggle unfolds, there are at least six key factors that are driving the inexorable development of the mobile cloud:
Mobile Broadband. When the authors forecast in 2006 that mobile would overwhelm fixed communications in the broadband sphere more rapidly than it had in the voice market, this was considered a radical notion. Yet in five short years, it has already happened, with mobile users accounting for 67% of broadband access and the disparity growing every day. Broadband is a mobile phenomenon.
Traffic Deluge. Mobile traffic growth is being wildly underestimated by industry forecasts - most prominently the widely cited Cisco Visual Networking Index. We believe there is a stunning disconnect in the telecom/wireless industry consensus, and that the forthcoming demand for mobile data services will clearly be at least ten times the prevailing industry forecasts and estimates in the next five years and beyond. The industry is in a state of denial about the level of traffic that is coming in the next five years - ten times the Cisco forecast, which itself is being heavily discounted by the industry as excessive.
The excerpt below summarizes the comparison of forecasted traffic per U.S. cell site, by category of cell site, comparing our methodology against the Cisco VNI. While the Cisco VNI study indicated a total U.S. demand for mobile data of about 989 petabytes per month by 2015, our analysis concluded that demand would be about 10,620 petabytes per month in that timeframe.
Traffic per U.S. Cell Site, by Category of Cell Site, 2015
|CATEGORY||NO. CELL SITES||VNI FORECAST||BSG FORECAST|
|Heavy||70,000||88.82 Mbit/s||972.46 Mbit/s|
|Medium||30,000||59.21 Mbit/s||627.10 Mbit/s|
|Light||31,000||29.61 Mbit/s||296.97 Mbit/s|
|Minimal||198,000||2.96 Mbit/s||29.70 Mbit/s|
Mobile Device Evolution. Mobile devices are evolving rapidly in ways that make them into "cloud devices." Over the past five years, these devices have been revamped, from "phones" with some limited data capabilities to handy computers with a mounting number of ancillary capabilities. This involves a paradigm shift from the "single device" concept to the "small number of devices," all of which will sync through the cloud. With multiple cores, high-resolution screens and ancillary capabilities such as dual cameras, these devices are not designed as standalone devices. They presume the existence of a cloud to reach their full potential and utilize the ever more complex and demanding range of mobile apps.
Advanced Mobile Networks. Networks are rapidly advancing toward "4G" status, which will enable a multiplicity of cloud functions to be performed efficiently. Verizon Wireless LTE covers a population of about 200 million, AT&T more than 70 million. (AT&T currently has HSPA+ coverage, as does T-Mobile, in substantial parts of their networks; Sprint/Clearwire covers about 120 million people with WiMax.) Verizon and AT&T should have national LTE coverage by 2014.
Applications. The world of mobile apps is the most vibrant area of the entire IT universe. Increasingly, these apps are being designed to rely on the cloud.
User Empowerment. The sudden rise of social networking is empowering users, changing the relationship between users and providers. With the mobile cloud, we expect this train of events to reach a new level of proactive communities that change the dynamics of areas such as search, but also profoundly affect marketing practices. This will be accelerated by the mobile cloud because of the factor of personalization.
The mobile cloud at this time is both vague and exciting. It is a concept in the making. In our opinion, what needs to be done is a thorough analysis tying together many streams of development that will feed into, impinge on, as well as be affected by, the mobile cloud.
The excerpt below summarizes the three stages of the mobile cloud, their approximate timing, and the concomitant network development that will accompany them.
Three Stages of the Mobile Cloud: Timing, Focus & Network Status
Current to 2014
|Early applications;extensive work on|
standards, diagnostics, security-
“making the mobile cloud work”
|3G;better with early 4G
offerings to fit mobile cloud
|Mass deployment of LTE by 2014
802.11n(with MIMO)widely available
2015 and beyond
|Explosion of resource dispersion;|
cloud terns in on self;
users as cloud resources
|LTE Advanced becomes available;
802.11ac(chpsets in 2012;
in Apple devices starting in 2014
The Mobile Cloud: Ready or Not, Here It Comes is structured as follows:
Section 1 explains our assessment of the Web Gang vs. Mobile Giants struggle; how it came to be, where it stands and where it is leading.
Section 2 summarizes our major findings on the mobile traffic deluge and how it is helping to propel the development of the mobile cloud.
Section 3 presents our analysis of the development of the cloud to date and the emergence of the mobile cloud.
Section 4 discusses the three stages of the mobile cloud and examines some of the key attendant developments we foresee, including the hybridized cloud strategies that are already emerging, their impacts on social networks and search, the rise of advanced proactive communities, and cloud security.
Section 5 defines the mobile cloud market, including wireless usage, device proliferation, analysis of some of the most recent findings of changing user behavior, and issues relating to how the Web Gang is attacking through capabilities such as voice recognition (e.g., Siri) and augmented reality, as well as on a vertical-oriented basis (e.g., healthcare).
Section 6 analyzes the major dilemmas for the Mobile Giants, and particularly how the strain of acceleration in the mobile business cycle is impacting carrier plans and finances, as well as Wi-Fi's potential for disruption.
Section 7 provides some of our key conclusions on strategy options for the Web Gang, the Mobile Giants and Cable (i.e., Comcast).
The Mobile Cloud: Ready or Not, Here It Comes - the first report of the Mobile Cloud Survival Series - is published in PDF format.