Telstra signals 'bigger push' into global cloud market

Telstra's acquisitions of Kloud and Readify, along with its new cloud-management dashboard and gateway, have provided the basis for a push into global cloud provisioning.

Telstra is using its two recently launched cloud products to push into the global provider sphere, with its Cloud Gateway and management services dashboard giving the telecommunications carrier more credence in the cloud services market.

Jim Fagan, director of Platforms in Telstra's Global Products business, said that while Australia is still Telstra's biggest market, the two products have differentiated Telstra's cloud offering to such an extent that it is now able to move into other markets, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.

According to Fagan, Telstra embarked on a multi-cloud strategy three years ago.

"The idea that we were going to get away from just building up our own infrastructure and trying to go move customers to that and being in almost a bespoke hosting environment, to actually leveraging the cloud technologies that were in market from our partners," Fagan, speaking at the Telstra Vantage 2016 conference in Melbourne on Thursday afternoon, explained.

In terms of choice, Telstra offers access to the public clouds such as IBM SoftLayer, VMware vCloud Air, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Microsoft Azure, while for private cloud solutions it uses offerings from Cisco, EMC, NetApp, and VMware.

"The idea was to give our customers the best choice they could have," he said.

Fagan said Telstra unveiled two "unique solutions" for what he labelled the network challenge and the cloud-management challenge.

The network challenge, which Fagan described as being the interplay between the infinite scale and on-demand nature of cloud and the rigid, fixed nature of networks, was solved by Telstra's business multi-cloud connecting solution, Cloud Gateway.

"What the global Cloud Gateway does is it allows a customer to plug in to the gateway once, and from there, all of the clouds that we have in our portfolio, they have access to -- and they have access to them globally. In particular, AWS and Microsoft Azure," he said.

"So now what happens is the customer, instead of them having to manage different connections into AWS under different contracts with Azure, under different SLAs, they're now able to plug in, have those accesses, connect to those clouds, but, more importantly, connect to them in a dynamic way."

Telstra in April announced Cloud Gateway to support the use of hybrid cloud services, adding AWS to its stable of cloud services at the same time and allowing customers to connect directly to multiple public cloud environments via Telstra's IP network.

On top of this Cloud Gateway, Fagan said Telstra has solved the oversight issue by launching its cloud-management platform.

"What we've now done is launched the Telstra cloud-management platform ... in partnership with a US company called RightScale," he said.

"This allows customers to actually get the control and the visibility in the management of those cloud environments. So instead of having to go into their AWS portal, their Microsoft portal, their private cloud control panel, you're actually able to see what you're using in all those clouds. You have analytics around what the cost is, what the performance is, and you also get to see your network, so you actually get status of your compute network storage across your entire cloud platform."

The cloud-management platform was unveiled in July, offering businesses the ability to oversee in real-time their hybrid cloud services via a single dashboard.

Fagan said these products have differentiated its cloud solution and enabled it to become a bigger player in the global sphere.

"For our global business, we really see these two offerings really giving us the capabilities to play in the global market more than we have," he said.

"I think particularly in the Asia-Pacific market, where you're going to be dealing usually -- even if it's regional, different countries -- connectivity is a very big issue."

Telstra has added a toolkit on top of its management solution, giving greater insight into a company's cloud platform.

"I think the timing's right, because now we've actually added a toolset in that we believe helps with some of those questions that Asia-Pacific companies in particular have been struggling with on how they can handle the connectivity between the country, is there management of [the cloud services], making sure that they have governance and they understand where their data is, and shadow IT," Fagan said.

"So we think that now you'll really start to see us over the next few months making a lot bigger push in the market on the cloud capability globally, because now we really feel that from an offering perspective, we're differentiated and we have value."

Within 18 to 24 months, all Telstra workloads will be in that management platform using the Gateway, according to Fagan.

Fagan also discussed Telstra's acquisitions of Kloud and Readify, saying they have enabled the telco to provide a more effective and simpler onboarding process for its customers transitioning to cloud.

"They both had fantastic businesses on their own -- Kloud for what they were doing for their customers with the transition to Microsoft workloads, and they were branching out to AWS at the time when we bought them, and then Readify with their software," he explained. "We see where they fit in now, and this is where we are absolutely using them."

Telstra acquired Readify in July after acquiring Kloud in January.

Telstra also acquired unified communications solutions and contact centre provider North Shore Connections (NSC) Group in August 2013; network integration services provider O2 Networks for a reported AU$60 million in January 2014; and information security, networking, and data-management provider Bridgepoint in October 2014.

Telstra also invested in Chinese cloud company Qiniu in January.

In May, Telstra flagged the importance in securing multi-cloud services, calling this "critical" to its overarching strategy, by entering a partnership with hybrid cloud security startup vArmour.

The partnership saw Telstra add another layer of security solutions to its enterprise managed services portfolio, and was kicked off by Telstra investing between US$5 million and US$10 million in vArmour's US$41 million series D funding round.

Telstra also announced in February that it would be co-hosting a hybrid cloud innovation centre with AWS and Ericsson.

Announced at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2016 in Barcelona, the partnership will see Ericsson use AWS' industry expertise in an effort to extend its own cloud programs, datacentres, and application migration solutions to accelerate cloud adoption for telcos in preparation of 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Disclosure: Corinne Reichert travelled to Telstra Vantage in Melbourne as a guest of Telstra

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