Big Interview

Putting the enterprise experience first

Megaport has just added IBM Cloud to its growing list of cloud partners. CEO Vincent English tells James Pearce about how it is tackling the enterprise market

“It’s about giving our customers choice. Enterprises want choice of service providers and want seamless and fast connectivity to their services.”

Vincent English, the chief executive officer of Megaport, seems delighted with the company’s latest announcement. In November 2017, it partnered with IBM to launch direct, secure connectivity to IBM Cloud.

On the partnership, English tells Capacity that its new IBM Cloud Direct Link offering will give “clients who want to build next-generation applications” the ability to have direct, scalable access to cloud infrastructure that is tuned for AI and big data.”

IBM Cloud Direct Link will give Megaport’s enterprise customers the opportunity to accelerate their cloud adoption by enabling them to architect a hybrid environment linking on-premise infrastructure with private and public cloud services.

The connectivity gives Megaport’s customers access to IBM’s growing global footprint and cloud-native services which include artificial intelligence, blockchain, internet of things, serverless and more. It initially launched in the US and Australia, but will rollout to all of Megaport’s other markets over the coming weeks.

At the time, Kit Linton, vice president of network at IBM Cloud, said the partnership will “provide a reliable way for global enterprises to expand their reach, drive innovation and embrace a cloud strategy that seamlessly connects public and private infrastructure.”

English, unsurprisingly, agrees, saying: “it enriches our ecosystem. I’ve often talked about our one-stop shop for an enterprise where it can access multiple service providers and services through one port, in one location. 

“That is really important for an enterprise, not dealing with multiple vendors dealing with whole networking problem of how to build connectivity and take that problem and make it easy to access and secure those services. It’s a win-win situation for everybody.”

Expanding presence

This latest partnership means that Megaport is connected to AWS, Microsoft Azure and Office 365, Google, Alibaba, Oracle and now IBM, covering pretty much all of the major cloud providers. It has a presence in around 180 data centres across the globe and will continue to expand, he claims.

English explains: “During the course of 2017 we continuously worked on innovation with a focus on enriching our ecosystem to make sure we keep bringing more and more partners to our platform. That way it becomes a more valuable portal for customers and enterprises o they can access these services. This announcement just adds to that – it’s really exciting.”

So how do English and his team decide where to expand? Where will they focus the innovation in order to get the right services to the right customer? “The closer we are to an on-ramp location or to connectivity where it presents itself is vital,” he says. 

“We work closely with our partners to make sure we are on the front foot on that regard. Ultimately customers want speed but it is also a matter of cost and planning. If you are interconnecting within your region, it reduces the cost of connectivity and gives extra security and performance that you don’t have over longer distances or networks.”

Customer experience

For him, the conversation about connectivity is less important in a geographic sense. Instead, English says, the focus for Megaport is on the customer’s need and their experience. 

“It is not about a transport layer or networking layer, it is about what the customer wants,” he adds.

“Often you hear people talking about connectivity. We talk about customers first and foremost, and their speed of adoption. We are working very much at the user experience. That is the ability to have a seamless experience when accessing a service provider such as IBM. That’s a unique proposition.”

How did that play out in the discussions with IBM, which had been going on for a few months, he says, to make sure the integration worked instantly?

“It was important to IBM that we had the ability to provide direct connectivity, and a platform that gives instant access to customers. We have taken a networking problem by effectively creating a distribution network for our service partners. That paves the way for global enterprises to expand their reach,” he says. 

“We’ve already built the backbone, built the network, and have the connectivity. By IBM coming on to our ecosystem and becoming another option for customers, they then get the ability to have that reach globally and it gives them instant access to customers.” 

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