Communication service providers committed almost $8 billion to cloud-related pursuits in the first six months of 2011, but recent acquisitions won’t boost cloud revenues overnight and service differentiation remains poor, according to Informa Telecoms & Media. That finding is not terribly surprising, given the relative newness of the business and the cost of investing in facilities.

Informa estimates that the typical provider generates less than five percent of its enterprise revenues from annuity cloud services. That sounds like a small amount, but can be quite significant for a large provider. Some might point out that text messaging revenue only accounts for about five percent of Verizon Wireless revenue, but it is a quite-important revenue source.

Of the 10 acquisitions and 21 investments announced in the first half of 2011, 80 percent involved data centers. Using a five-year return on invested capital rule of thumb, the invested $8 billion implies annual expected revenue of $1.6 billion.

Of course, one also expects some amount of over-investment at this stage of business growth, so many would not be surprised if those projections for annualized revenue fall short.

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Immediate revenues do not seem to be the driver here, as it is doubtful current revenues would justify the investments. Future growth is the issue.

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