Len Padilla, NTT Europe Q&A: Migrating to the cloud

NTT Europe is aiming to leverage its extensive background in the cloud market to help carriers and enterprises alike with their migration to the cloud. Here, the company’s VP of product strategy, Len Padilla, shares his vision and strategy for the cloud.

What are the main advantages of moving to the cloud?

The real benefit of moving to the cloud is that companies are going to get to use the right tool for the right task. Will the corporate data centre ever disappear? No. There will always be things that stay in the corporate data centre, but there are other activities within many organisations that can be done better on the cloud.

It is never going to be binary – it is going to be a spectrum. We have customers with IT estates that span their corporate data centres, so they have some things in co-location, some in managed hosting and some in what would otherwise be called cloud: that industrialised, orchestrated virtualisation platform.

The real benefit that customers get is agility. When businesses come up with a new idea, it’s basically reducing the time from idea to invoice. That’s the goal.

What is holding people back from migrating to the cloud?

I think moving to the cloud is risky if you don’t do it the right way. If you were to move everything in your IT estate and not think about the criticality or sensitivity of some of the data, then you would be putting yourself at great risk. Especially if it was with a cloud operator where you don’t control location or know a lot about their privacy policy.

But I think companies can do it without too much risk if they take their estate and break it up into sensitive and critical data.

There are cloud operators where you’re not explicitly allowed to control where the data resides, but having a platform – which is why we built the NTT platform the way we did – where a company makes exclusive decisions on where they want to put their data is a much better option.

One of the things that we see today is that customers are nervous, and it is not just of the cloud operators. The PRISM saga in the US has got people saying “is the NSA or the US government going to be able to read all of my data?”

Customers consequently need to be mindful about who they’re working with, where the data sits and where the headquarters of that organisation is. But if they go through that process, I think they can still stay safe if they move to the cloud.

How does NTT’s enterprise cloud compare to others in the market?

We are not just an operator who has recently looked into cloud – we come at cloud computing with a long background in the market. NTT acquired Verio some 13 years ago and so the part of the business I work for has been doing hosting, multi-tenant hosting and shared hosting for 15 years now.

I hesitate to be critical of other providers because I think that they all do a pretty good job, but I think the mistakes that some of them make sometimes blights their history or their background. We’ll see pure network operators come at it one way, pure data centre operators come at it another and we think we come at it with a good mix of the two.

We have a great legacy of hosting, and on top of that we are pushing innovation at the network layer. The software defined networks are a key piece of everything that we’re doing inside the data centre, on the cloud WAN and even out on the general WAN.

I think building that hybrid cloud gives us a big advantage when it comes to integrating cloud systems with customer’s legacy systems.

Most organisations have a variety of data that fits in the cloud, in their corporate data centres and then everything in between. NTT has everything in between and I think we are well positioned to help them all.

What plans does NTT have in the cloud space for 2014?

Next year we will be pushing SDN control out of the WAN so customers will be able to build an overlay network between the cloud and their corporate data centres that allows them to do easy migrations back and forth. That will be available in early 2014.

We will also be publishing the cloud-control application programming interface (API) which will focus on the compute layer, the network pieces within the data centre, and even some network pieces outside the data centre, out on the WAN, so we’re pretty excited about that.

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