Mobile operators must learn to add-value to cloud services in order to avoid a ‘dumb cloud’ model emerging.

That was the message from operators and vendors at a keynote session on cloud computing at Congress this morning.

Joachim Horn, now CTIO at European operator group Tele2, described the cloud revolution as “one of the few hypes that has real substance.”

He said that operator networks already count as the “biggest cloud in the world” and that carriers should look to cloud-based services in order to drive economies of scale and accelerate time-to-market.

“But we can’t just resell, we need to add value; for example by providing a single, secure user interface into [different types] of cloud services,” he said. “Legacy systems mean operators can be slow to introduce new services; but services in the cloud are not about legacy or implementation; it’s about the customer focus.”

Horn’s comments were backed-up by Juniper CEO Kevin Johnson, who agreed that telcos were in a “superior position to capitalise on cloud services” but warned there would be “winners and losers over the next five years” as the market matures.

He cited recent research from Gartner that valued the cloud market at $31 billion this year and growing by 25 per cent per annum (CAGR) over the next three years.

According to Johnson, the main revenue generators in the consumer cloud space are in online advertising, e-commerce and online media, while cloud opportunities on the business side will mainly relate to software-as-a-service. “The mobile segment in all of these [areas] is growing,” he declared.

Juniper has identified three areas of “network innovation” that will accelerate cloud growth: security innovation, dynamic service deployment (via Software Defined Networks); and the quality of experience.

Drew Houston, CEO of cloud-storage pioneer Dropbox was also a participant in the keynote session. He called for more interoperability between devices and platforms in order to simplify the cloud experience for end users.