Indonesia's XL joins cloud bandwagon

Operator looks to provide infrastructure-as-a-service and software-as-a-service to enterprise customers first, but acknowledges it's still in early stages and broadband infrastructure remains an issue.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor on

COMMUNICASIA, SINGAPORE--Mobile operator XL Axiata says it has joined the ranks of telcos in the region to provide cloud computing services, partnering six IT vendors to offer infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings. However, executives note it is early days for the company as a cloud service provider and there are still challenges to overcome such as Indonesia's incomplete broadband infrastructure.

Ongki Kurniawan, chief service management officer at XL Axiata, said during a press briefing held Wednesday at the CommunicAsia 2012 tradeshow that the company had engaged Huawei Technologies to be its managed services vendor in January this year. Doing so will allow the Indonesian operator to leave its network management and maintenance in the hands of the IT vendor, while it focuses on developing innovative services such as cloud computing to grow its business, Kurniawan explained. 

As a result of the partnership, 1,200 staff from XL Axiata in April this year were transferred to a newly created entity known as PT Huawei Services, the executive added. The design of the network and ownership of the assets will remain in the operator's control, though.

Both companies did not reveal the investment figure, but Huawei stated the deal was "its largest managed services project in Asia". The Chinese telecoms equipment vendor earlier signed up local operator Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel), too.

Cloud as a differentiator
Thus, freed up, the Indonesian operator was able to provide cloud computing services and other value-added services (VAS) for its customers, Kurniawan noted.

It will first focus on its local enterprise customer base as it is the "lowest-lying fruit", noted Arkav Juliandri, general manager for cloud and machine-to-machine (M2M) technology at XL Axiata's strategic business and innovation arm.

Speaking to ZDNet Asia after the briefing, Juliandri said Huawei is just one of six IT partners the telco selected to help provide IaaS and SaaS services to its customers. The other companies include IBM, Fujitsu, Microsoft, as well as Indonesian companies Mandawani Mandiri, an IT infrastructure solutions provider, and IntraTech.

Its IaaS products, which were launched on May 1 this year, include services such as storage, hosting and data services are available, the executive noted, adding that XL Axiata expects to sign up 10 percent, or 200, of its enterprise customers to its cloud services within one year from the launch.

Asked how the country's lack of mobile broadband infrastructure will hinder uptake of cloud services, Juliandri admitted this remains a challenge for the operator. However, he pointed out that changes are taking place in Indonesia and the infrastructure rollout continues on.

The general manager also noted that consumers are not an immediate priority now as the company knows it will be difficult for its products to scale and meet their needs adequately.

These developments should, ultimately, help the Indonesian operator achieve its goal of being "first in quality, generating two times its current revenue in three years and acquiring four times its customer base", or what it calls the "1-2-3-4 strategy", said Kurniawan. 

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