Orange Business Services has introduced Business VPN Galerie, which allows companies to use the operator's virtual private network to connect through to cloud service providers.
The network security and connectivity service launched in France on Tuesday, and an international pilot will start in the first quarter of 2011, the company said. The launch is part of a two-year push, announced in December 2009, for the network operator to become a major player in cloud services.
"What we are doing is connecting partner cloud services to [Orange's] core network," Marc Blanchet, senior vice president for global communication solutions for Orange Business Services (OBS), said at a press briefing in Paris. "We are saying to application providers: 'I will connect your application, I will connect your datacentre to my network, so you are in [Orange's IP VPN]'."
OBS has between 20 and 30 partners, including business software makers Sage and SAP. If a Business VPN Galerie customer subscribes to a cloud service that is not a partner, OBS will negotiate with that service to have them connect to the customer via the Orange VPN, Blanchet said.
To set up the connection, OBS installs a network IP VPN — probably using Cisco hardware — into a cloud provider's datacentre, then makes the hardware a point of presence (POP) within the Orange network. This is then linked through to the customer's own virtual private network.
OBS does not have a strategy in place for those situations where a cloud service provider does not want to become a partner, according to Blanchet.
However, the operator does not yet expect many providers to be unwilling to connect through its VPN. Using the Orange set-up, cloud service providers "have full end-to-end commitment to service — you have solved two of the main concerns of your customer, which is security and performance", Blanchet said.
A problem could arise if the cloud service provider was an offshoot of a telecoms rival to Orange. For example, Verizon Business Services, BT and AT&T all have business service subsidiaries with cloud-computing ambitions. This could make negotiations to connect via Business VPN Galerie difficult, according to Alex Rigaldo, head of cloud for OBS.
In addition, existing cloud companies, such as Amazon Web Services, already offer IP VPN connections to customers.
In France, companies pay a subscription fee of €10 (£8.42) per Business VPN Galerie access point per month, along with a one-time connection fee of €500 per cloud service. OBS could not provide the price of a connection to a cloud services provider that is not an Orange partner. There is also an indeterminate customer care charge that is split between OBS and the cloud service provider.
"The object is to sell on the usage, not the bandwidth," Yann Glever, marketing director in OBS's French network solutions business unit, told ZDNet UK.