Orange Business Services has got the cloud covered for businesses of all sizes, thanks, in part to a recent partnership with Huawei on a managed cloud offering, according to Orange's Philippe Laplane.
Orange Business Services teamed up with Huawei earlier this year on a public cloud offering that was designed to help multinational corporations with their digital transformations. The public cloud announcement with Huawei complemented Orange's private cloud service that has been available for some time. Orange has had a public cloud offering in France since 2013, but Laplane said the goal with Huawei is to be able to offer the service worldwide.
The new cloud service started to roll out across Western Europe and Southeast Asia this month followed by the US in October of this year. The Middle East and Western Africa are slated for 2018.
Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. was a natural fit for Orange Business Services' public cloud offering because they both use OpenStack , said Laplane, senior vice president of Orange Cloud for Business for Orange Business Services . In this Telco Transformation Q&A, which was lightly edited for clarity and length, Laplane discussed Orange's cloud strategy, its plans for future enhancements and how it is helping businesses with their digital transformations.
Telco Transformation: How do you enable businesses' digital transformations via the cloud?
Philippe Laplane: What we push is to make sure their infrastructure is agile enough to follow through on their digital transformations. That includes making sure that the IT infrastructure continues to evolve and be agile enough to follow the trend of this digital transformation. First of all, I think we need to say to them that your IT cloud infrastructure can't be in the future and help them be an enabler. I think the second part that we want to say to them is that in the future if you want to be more agile you need to take advantage of this cloud technology revolution to end up with a less dispersed system. So that includes more standardization, more patterns, making sure that your IT partners, or your own developers, are able to use an infrastructure in a more standardized way and with a better level of abstraction.
Why is it so? It's because if you want to be closer to your business division you need to be able to talk to them directly about functions, about features and not about technicalities, operations and so on. So it's a double revolution: Make sure that your IT infrastructure is agile, costs less and is more flexible. It's also putting your IT division as a key player within the business division. I think they are two faces on the same coin.
TT: What should businesses consider before moving to the cloud, and how do you convince them that such a move is a lot more than just storage?
PL: It's about value proposition when we are talking about cloud services, especially with IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service] and PaaS [platform-as-a-service]. So how do you move to the cloud service? What parts do you outsource by way of what you used to do in-house? You need to have the trust that your service provider is able, at any time, to give you the right APIs, the right portals and the appropriate information. Whatever you put in the cloud you should be able to monitor. Monitor your own capacity management in order to follow your usage of all of this to make sure that you continue to transform your IT when you are using all of these services.
I think part of the value proposition is not only to have a good platform, but also to have the ecosystem of tools -- from monitoring white boxes to provisioning, billing and so on to make sure that the they keep control.
TT: Can you talk about the announcement with Huawei on the public cloud offering?
PL: First of all, we need to repeat that with this partnership with Huawei, we as Orange, are building the service. We are not a reseller of the Huawei services. Huawei is a technology partner so they provide us with hardware and software, but we put all this in our own network -- the security, data centers, the OSS/BSS, the ecosystem -- and we provide the service to our customers.
Why we have signed with Huawei is really to accelerate what we want to do on the public cloud segment. We continue to do two other things that we used to do. First of all in the private cloud environment and also in what we can call the shared cloud.
The other thing that we have done is with VMware-based technology, which is a managed cloud service. It could be dedicated or it could be shared. We think that we need to continue to have all these capabilities. As you know, we won't be a pure player of public cloud.
TT: Why would you want to?
PL: Yes, exactly. It's difficult to compete as a pure public cloud player and we think that our value proposition is really to be able to combine cloud approaches -- the VMware cloud approach, the public cloud approach -- because we have the capability to manage and orchestrate all this for our end customers. By having this competency, it's possible that we can gain the trust of different customers -- mid-market customers -- for us be a part of the journey for their cloud transformations.
As far as public cloud is concerned, in France in 2013 we created our own OpenStack cloud. We chose to have an OpenStack cloud platform and it's fully operational. We have thousands of VMs [virtual machines] on this platform, but it's a pure France-based platform.
We want to enlarge this [new public cloud] offering on a worldwide basis and we want to strengthen our capability to develop faster in terms of features, in terms of portfolio and in terms of our roadmaps. That's why we think our partnership with a key player like Huawei is a good move for us.
We think it's a good choice because in other markets you have some providers that do their own technologies such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft. They really don't want to provide that technology to other service providers. We think that Huawei is really the most advanced technology partner we can find in the market that is really focused on IT cloud. The other European technology providers such as Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), are not focusing specifically on the public cloud area because they have other challenges and other key advantages in other markets.
TT: The advantage of the new managed cloud service is that you'll be able to do business around the world and you are no longer constrained to the 29 countries in your current footprint?
PL: The advantage of the public cloud is that you don't need to have a POP in each country. So the French and European customers that want to build their business in APAC can use this and then the next step would be to have a presence in the US to make sure that our western customers can rely on a seamless offering there. Next year we'll consider other geographies such as the Middle East and Western Africa, where we have a large presence.
TT: How do you provide visibility from the private infrastructure and connect that view to the public cloud infrastructure?
PL: Your question is really related to the hybrid cloud. The current situation is that a lot of people are talking about hybrid cloud, but in fact what is hybrid today? For some applications they are using private cloud and for some other application they are using public cloud. We have to create the right use cases where you really have a seamless offering between private and public clouds. The first use cases we're working on are kind of classic, but very important. One is related to backup and disaster recovery while the second is really about transferring your workload from the public cloud to your own private cloud for your own protection.
In our roadmap, we are looking at a unique cloud management platform that will give visibility into what is going on your private cloud and on your public cloud. We don't have a current offering because on the private cloud we come from a world where we are using more enterprise IT types of solutions and those types of tools are not totally adapted to manage the public cloud today.
Creating a single cloud management platform is on our roadmap and it should be a key differentiator in the market for showing our customers a single view on what they have on both [public and private] sides.
TT: Is something like that available today by a vendor or another service provider?
PL: Frankly, we don't think on the market today that there is a disruptive technology like this. A lot of IT companies have tried to create this. Creating a cloud management platform-as-a-service, multi-tenant, multi-customer view on the public and private cloud will be disruptive. I hope that we will be one of the companies that does this, and whoever does this will have a real differentiator in the market.
— Mike Robuck, Editor, Telco Transformation