Both, most likely. We hear these terms used so frequently and interchangeably that they seem to be the same, indistinguishable service. While they may be complementary, they are distinctly different.
Cloud computing, at its simplest, may be defined as an architecture that allows a user to access an application, software,or data using the Internet. Google Apps is a great example of cloud computing for business productivity such as email, word processing, presentations, and spreadsheets. Salesforce.com is another example of cloud computing where the application sits in the cloud, and the enterprise is not responsible for any hardware or software. In fact, companies pay for only the service they need, and the service can be scaled up or down on demand.
Managed Services/Solutions, while similar, are more about the people who remotely manage and monitor the enterprise network 24/7. The service provider consolidates talent and resources so an enterprise can outsource networking services to these IT professionals at a lower cost than managing them in-house. Partnering with a provider makes sense for an enterprise, who can then focus internal IT resources on strategic projects.
Why use both? As an enterprise considers the entire computing environment –the physical network, endpoint devices, servers, applications, and software –managed services and cloud computing each provide significant benefits.
Delivering the Goods - As more enterprises employ a hybrid of these services, it is worth noting that telecom providers are well poised to deliver these services. There are good reasons to trust providers, says the MSP (Managed Service Provider) Alliance. The bottom line is that these providers have the networking expertise unmatched by new entrants, as well as the experience managing business-critical applications for large organizations.
As fellow blogger Braj Thakur articulates so well in his blog Building the Highway to the Dependable Cloud, “carriers really are the only logical option out there for connecting enterprises with the cloud, or for enabling them to take full advantage of mobility for the same purpose ... Most enterprises have existing, successful managed services relationships with carriers. To expand such a relationship is a natural evolution, maintaining the most positive advantages of carrier services, such as reliability and higher performance. In effect, only the destination is really changing – the end point being the cloud and the services that the solutions provider can deliver.”
Recognizing that security remains a concern for most enterprises, as they consider which parts of their business to relinquish to the cloud, “telecommunication providers can enable cloud-based services that do not touch the Internet but instead enable access to a multi-tenant cloud environment, using established methods of data separation, via the organization's own wide area network” says itpro.co.uk. Telecom providers can seamlessly integrate SaaS solutions into the overall enterprise IT environment, especially when it comes to identity, security, and compliance.