Top six cloud platforms
Carriers worldwide are experimenting with ways of enabling enterprises to exploit the cloud’s full potential. Capacity looks at six of the leading platforms.
Launched: July 2013
What they say: HGC ibizCloud is designed to allow organisations to respond to the ever-changing customer needs and market dynamics of the cloud, without large up-front investments.
Traditionally, cloud providers have had to rely on connectivity from third-party operators to provide services – a process involving numerous vendors and a lengthy implementation period. These cloud providers are also often required by operators to commit to monthly or six-monthly contracts which can pressurise budget plans.
Andrew Kwok, president of the international and carrier business at HGC, believes that the ibizCloud provides a new business model. “While many cloud providers work with third-party telecoms providers and other service vendors, ibizCloud is designed as a one-stop solution,” he says.
Key features and technology: The platform features four distinct IT capabilities, including Infrastructure-as-a-Service (Iaas), Bandwidth-as-a-Service (BaaS), Dedicated Bandwidth-as-a-Service (DBaaS) and on-demand Virtual Leased Line (ODVLL) services.
Built using a software defined network (SDN) framework, the ibizCloud solution is designed to incorporate cloud services with international and local networks, using its DBaaS and ODVLL features to allow for automation and a shortened provisioning time.
“As well as speedy implementation, ibizCloud integrates SDN on both its network and cloud services, so that customers can bind virtual machines across different network resources and thus improve operational efficiency,” says Kwok.
Coverage: HGC has sites available in Hong Kong and Los Angeles, and is looking to expand ibizCloud service coverage to locations across mainland China, Cambodia and Thailand.
Virtual Cross Connect (VXC)
Launched: July 2013
What they say: Having identified a disconnection between cloud-based offerings and telecoms providers, Megaport has launched virtual cross connects (VXC) for its customers. A VXC allows users to connect to any cloud-based service on Megaport, and is designed to remove the so-called “barrier of confusion” when it comes to the cloud.
The Australian company said that there are still misunderstandings around what the cloud really is, and even more confusion surrounding how to connect to and reap the most benefit from cloud-based services.
Megaport VXCs are designed to remove this underlying confusion by providing a more streamlined process which enables customers to focus on providing core services to their customers.
As well as providing rapid connectivity options to these cloud and managed service providers, the VXC also has the ability to connect and disconnect any link that is made, dependant on a user’s particular requirements.
Key features and technology: Megaport VXCs have been designed to have several advantages over traditional networking, such as speed, security, flexibility and ease of deployment. They are designed to cost-effectively move large amounts of data in bursts, making them a perfect solution for disaster recovery and off-site backups.
Coverage: Megaport claims to be the driver of cloud connectivity across Australia, having allowed cloud providers, channel partners and end users to benefit from the full scale of the cloud.
A new entrant to the market last year, Megaport has 150 ports provisioned over an in-house developed software system via 20 Megaport network-enabled data centres across Australia.
Advanced cloud platform in the Middle East
Launched: March 2014
What they say: Orixcom’s Wholesale Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platform claims to be the first cloud platform physically located in the Middle East – an important development for the region, given its data sovereignty legislation and corporate requirements.
Traditionally, cloud services in the Middle East have been offered from overseas, and customer data kept in data centres in various locations across the globe.
“The launch of our innovative wholesale IaaS platform provides an immediate opportunity to become a cloud service provider,” says Andrew Grenville, CEO at Orixcom. “Operators and system integrators have access to a world-class scalable service, allowing them to tap into the fastest-growing cloud markets in the region.”
Key features and technology: Orixcom’s infrastructure is located in a data centre in Dubai – designed to ensure that data never leaves the UAE’s borders – and provides carriers with cost-effective and scalable cloud services.
The service also allows for white-labelled and branded cloud services featuring a customisable control panel.
The platform is designed to enable simpler orchestration across public, private and hybrid clouds and integrate more easily into existing systems.
It is also designed with control and flexibility in mind; being agnostic of geography and hardware makes it a very low-risk proposition for international and regional operators who want to deploy and manage infrastructure in the region.
“[Operators] can efficiently orchestrate their cloud offerings across infrastructure and locations, create packaged and bill customers with a usage-based model,” Grenville adds.
Coverage: A white-labelled service based in the UAE, the platform targets a wide global audience. For example, a carrier in Canada could use an Orixcom white-labelled cloud service with an end-to-end capability for billing, reporting and provisioning.
This Canadian carrier could then go to market directly, or via a channel mode to their customers with requirements for cloud services such as virtual machines, storage and SaaS in the Middle East.
“Because the cloud is located in the region, the customer benefits from data location and low latencies along with cost-effective and scalable cloud computing on demand,” Grenville suggests.
Grenville says Orixcom is focussing for now on the UAE and Saudi Arabia, where the bulk of the Middle East region’s GDP lies, but is keen to explore markets such as Iraq and Qatar, as well as Africa, moving forward.
Launched: September 2014
What they say: In partnership with software provider Aliaslab, Telecom Italia Sparkle (TIS) has launched Strong-Authentication-as-a-Service (SAasS); a cloud application focussed on security.
The service leverages the competitive advantage of an integrated, end-to-end service with a cost-effective, OTT-like approach, and builds on the operator’s existing voice, mobile data and connectivity services to form part of its full cloud SaaS portfolio.
“In our SAasS, traditional telecoms services are offered in a bundle with cloud solutions and the whole integrated proposition to the final customer is remunerated in a revenue-sharing approach among partners,” says Giuseppe Valentino, director marketing data services.
“As a result, the increased value coming from the decommoditisation of each service component, thanks to the combination with innovative cloud solutions, generates a new life cycle for the telecoms services which increase their profitability.”
The service is based on a dual-channel web and mobile solution to protect online transactions against fraud. Security remains one of the main obstacles to cloud adoption, and TIS’ SAasS is designed to cater to the most security-demanding customer segments. These include financial and medical institutions.
Key features and technology: The suite of services uses traditional features of a GSM/UMTS network to authenticate the user and securely transmit information.
A user authenticates her/himself via their subscriber mobile number and needs only to make a single phone call to activate the service.
The solution includes a service platform from TIS, as well as voice, connectivity, mobile data and IP elements, and is designed to work with any mobile device, with no need to install any application on the device.
“Dual channel is a system of authentication out-of-band that combines user experience, simplicity and safety, using two different channels (web and GSM/UMTS) as key elements, which cannot be compromised in parallel,” Valentino says.
“Unlike the single-channel standard application, Secure Call adds an additional layer of security by combining two or more factors and two channels in order to transmit login credentials safely.”
Coverage: The service is available across TI Sparkle’s global footprint: The partnership with TI Sparkle enables Aliaslab to extend its own footprint globally as well as to reduce time to market.
Launched: October 2014
What they say: Formerly Reliance Globalcom, Global Cloud Xchange (GCX) has launched its own cloud platform, Cloud X, designed to deliver enterprise cloud services, applications and content across the operator’s privately-owned, global fibre-optic network.
GCX has enabled its global network to support “cloud nodes”, which have the ability to provide applications directly to a customer’s enterprise network in minutes rather than months.
“We believe we will be one of the most disruptive companies in the next five years, because we will become the fabric that enables the global cloud,” says Bill Barney, CEO at GCX.
“Our new infrastructure will accelerate cloud traffic across the world, facilitate global content and application distribution, enable enhanced customer experience, and transform the way people think about rolling out applications and services.”
Key features and technology: The Cloud X platform also supports network transparency, a key element in accelerating enterprising applications to the cloud.
It largely targets enterprises in the emerging market “corridors” across Europe, the Middle East and Asia where it has extensive network coverage, but in early December 2014, GCX launched Cloud X in London, UK.
Since its rebrand in March 2014, Global Cloud Xchange has planted itself firmly in the cloud universe and aims to create an integrated cloud ecosystem.
“We are living in an era where mobile applications, social media, key technology drivers and applications will exponentially boost the volume of digital information being shared every second,” Barney adds.
“Our new cloud ecosystem means delivering an interwoven portfolio of infrastructure and data centre solutions with sophisticated cloud orchestration capabilities.”
“Cloud X is changing the paradigm of cloud computing,” Barney says.
“The network must now undergo a profound transformation, from a static entity, to a dynamic, intelligent, application-aware fabric that can support multiple traffic requirements, diverse geographies and flexible pricing models.”
Coverage: The London facility is the first Cloud X node in Europe, and GCX has also recently announced deployments in Hong Kong and Silicon Valley.
By mid-2015, GCX plans to transform more than 20 facilities worldwide into Cloud X nodes aligned with an automated orchestration layer.
Launched: October 2014
What they say: Tata Communications’ IZO offering is a cloud network platform for advanced hybrid cloud enablement.
Designed to simplify the challenges and complications of the cloud, the IZO platform offers access to a full ecosystem of network, cloud and data centre connectivity to help enterprises connect and personalise their own private, hybrid or public cloud.
“We’re taking the necessary steps towards making the internet ‘Fit For Business’ by bringing a new level of predictability and reliability to the public internet that does not exist today,” says Vinod Kumar, managing director and CEO at Tata Communications.
“This isn’t something we can do alone and we are joined in this initiative to bring about a new era of internet, by some of the world’s leading ISP and cloud providers as we collaborate to achieve a common goal.”
Cloud is a relatively new IT architecture for next-generation enterprise, and Melanie Posey, research VP at IDC says that scalable and dynamic architectures for these have been slow to emerge.
Key features and technology: The platform comprises IZO internet WAN, IZO private and IZO public; with each tackling a different issue faced by enterprises when managing cloud solutions.
The IZO internet WAN brings the security, flexibility and predictability of a private network to a public network, with the same global reach of the internet.
Via partnerships with 20 service providers around the world, IZO’s internet WAN delivers comprehensive traffic routing with guaranteed end-to-end service level agreements.
IZO private connects businesses to cloud service providers using private network connectivity.
Under the AWS Direct Connect programme with Amazon Web Services and the Azure ExpressRoute programme with Microsoft, companies are able to access a one-stop-shop for end-to-end management.
The platform’s third element, IZO public, tags and prioritises content for Tata enterprise customers.
This element targets businesses that want to deliver large volumes of online content, providing them with considerable reach and capacity to ensure a consistently good end user experience, and in November 2014, Tata connected its IZO public cloud service into Google’s cloud.
Coverage: With 20 service provider partnerships worldwide, as well as agreements with Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, Tata’s IZO platform is available across its global network.
Over 24% of the world’s internet routes travel over Tata Communications’ network and the company claims to be the only Tier-1 provider that is in the top five by routes across the five continents of the globe.