Telecommunications operators are already playing a large role in the cloud computing market, but channel partners should expect their reach, and the type and number of services they offer to continue to grow. According to Jared Wray, CTO of CenturyLink Cloud, telcos have a huge opportunity ahead, particularly in emerging technologies connected to the cloud.

Wray, who was recently quoted on the CloudTech news site, believes there are significant opportunities ahead for telcos. And much of those opportunities will come by way of software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV). With large networks, tremendous capacity and frequently the dollars to put behind large cloud projects, telcos have the opportunity to gain significant buy-in and traction in the ever-growing cloud market.

According to Wray, they have the opportunity and the ability to implement new cloud services, reduce costs and improve the customer experience — all elements that could lead to winning cloud solutions.

Click here for Talkin' Cloud's Top 100 CSP list

How telcos take advantage of their scalability in providing cloud offerings will depend on the individual telecommunications services provider, though. Although some have expanded on their histories of also acting as systems integrators and overall IT consultancy shops, still others are taking the acquisition approach to the cloud.

CenturyLink itself continues to build out its data center footprint. To date, the company has 55 data centers around the world.

But even look at some of the biggest names in the global telecommunications space. Ericsson has been adding to its cloud portfolio through acquisition and strategic investment. Verizon (VZ) has continued to build out its cloud offerings while also signing deals to put other services on its cloud infrastructure. Of course, those are only two examples. Most telcos are getting into cloud in one way or another.

CenturyLink has also made acquisitions. The company is hoping to stand out from the other telcos duking it out in the cloud space, including focusing on areas that are typically not seen as telco strengths.