SingTel touts 'intelligent utility' for biz users

Summary:update Singapore Telecommunications unveils three cloud service packages encompassing its carriage and backend billing system capabilities in bid to move away from simply providing fat pipes to companies.

update SINGAPORE--Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) has unveiled a new "intelligent utility" strategy targeted at corporate customers, with hopes that its success will propel the telco to achieve its goal of becoming the top ICT provider in the Asia-Pacific region by 2013.

Bill Chang, executive vice president of SingTel's business group, said in a media briefing here Thursday that this strategy is in line with the carrier's shift away from simply providing "fat pipes" to companies and expand its provision of intelligent, on-demand services, particularly those based on cloud computing, to offer added value to these broadband services.

Much of its intelligent utility strategy revolves around the telco's play in the cloud computing space, Chang added, noting that SingTel has been developing services and inking partnerships with ISVs (independent software vendors) to bulk up its offerings in the three cloud spaces--namely, software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS).

"Cloud computing has gained tremendous traction in the region as more enterprises look for compelling and cost-effective ICT services on a subscription basis," he said.

He added that the company aims to grow its cloud services with a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of around 50 percent over the next three years, a figure that is "significantly faster" than the 20 percent global growth rate forecasted by research firm Gartner.

Reinforcing the importance of its software-driven revenue stream, Chang said SingTel's non-carriage-based revenues are increasing. "Today, more than 30 percent of our Singapore business revenues are from non-carriage services. Our target is to grow this [figure] to 50 percent in the next three years," he stated.

Key to growing this revenue stream is the company's intelligent utility strategy, the executive said. Elaborating, he pointed out that the on-demand, flexible and "one-throat-to-choke" single point of accountability found in SingTel's cloud services will be packaged together with the telco's "core strength" in its carriage business as well as its extensive billing, support and marketing resources.

"For the first time, businesses can enjoy a full suite of enterprise-grade, on-demand services with the flexibility to scale up or down in minutes and pay for only what they use," Chang said. "This helps companies to be more agile, improve productivity and significantly reduce their costs."

Asked to qualify SingTel's tag as the world's first intelligent utility provider, Chang said he does not think there is any one company in the market right now that is able to "bring together services from all three levels of the cloud" with the carrier's proven telecoms and support infrastructure.

He further pointed to the company's developments in all three levels of the cloud. In the SaaS space, SingTel currently has over 100,000 users employing its services, he said. The company's SaaS-based products, available on its myBusiness Web portal, is targeted specifically at "mid-tier and below" small and midsize businesses (SMBs) with between 25 and 100 employees, he added.

Explaining the company's SMB focus, Chang noted that larger enterprises would have invested more heavily in their IT infrastructure at this stage of development, and their take-up rate would be slower than the SMBs.

One SMB, for instance, revealed how using SingTel's OneOffice productivity suite--which is a mashup of Google's Gmail and storage services and SingTel's broadband access--allowed him to have a clearer insight of his employees' movements.

Ryan Chioh, managing director of Singapore-based florist FarEastFlora.com, who was at the SingTel briefing, said with Google's calendaring system, his employees no longer have to manually update the company's movement board and can now do so remotely and in real-time.

Chang pointed out that the large enterprise customer segment would be better served using SingTel's IaaS offering, which is largely powered and certified by the VCE coalition. The VCE is a joint venture between EMC, VMware and Cisco Systems to sell an integrated data center product called V-Block.

Through its IaaS services, which will be rolled out in the coming months, he said large enterprises can integrate their private cloud networks "seamlessly" with SingTel's public cloud and make use of the carrier's existing managed service offerings without having to worry about moving apps and data between both cloud models, as well as security across these virtual environments.

According to a ZDNet Asia report last month, SingTel inked a deal with the VCE coalition--comprising IT vendors such as VMware, EMC and Cisco Systems--to install the necessary hardware and data centers and the certification of these systems to provide cloud-based services.

This was established to better equip the telco to compete in the IaaS space, Chang said. The company had spent the past one-and-a-half years building up its hardware and process capabilities, and will tap its sister company, IT systems integrator NCS, to supplement its manpower needs for the IaaS space, he added.

In the PaaS arena, the company is looking to convince ISVs to tap SingTel's existing billing, support and marketing resources as the most effective way of bringing their software to market, Chang revealed.

To date, Singapore-based startups such as mobile security company tenCube, social media monitoring software vendor JamiQ and FarEastFlora.com have come onboard the SingTel portal to extend their marketing reach, he said.

It is looking to increase this base from its Accelerate 2010 conference next week, which will gather over 1,000 ISVs and developers from around the region to explore possible collaborations with the telco, Chang said.

Ultimately, these developments are targeted to position SingTel as the "number one ICT provider in Asia-Pacific by 2013", he noted, who added that the company is on track to meet this target.

Topics: SMBs, Apps, Broadband, Cloud, Networking, Software, Unified Comms

About

A Singapore-based freelance IT writer, Kevin made the move from custom publishing focusing on travel and lifestyle to the ever-changing, jargon-filled world of IT and biz tech reporting, and considered this somewhat a leap of faith. Since then, he has covered a myriad of beats including security, mobile communications, and cloud computing... Full Bio

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