AAPT has revealed plans to launch Windows and Linux-based virtual machines as part of its cloud infrastructure offering in a bid to more heavily compete with local and global cloud providers.
The Telecom NZ-owned telco has sold a Solaris-as-a-service product since March 2011, which AAPT chief executive David Yuile told iTnews had garnered interest from telcos looking to host their own enterprise-grade software.
"Ironically, most of them have turned around and said they want it for themselves because quite a lot of telco stuff is actually Solaris-based," he said.
"It seems to have strong followings in government, banking and telco."
However, he said the company hoped to get "broader interest from the rest of the market" with more conventional cloud offerings.
The company has spent several months testing "selected" Windows and Linux virtual machines with customers, with a hard launch of the service expected by August.
In order to get a leg-up on strong, existing local and global rivals, Yuile said the company planned to bundle the cloud offerings with either bandwidth on its network, or content delivery network caching on the back of its local Edgecast nodes.
It would offer transparent bandwidth pricing at a lower cost than typically associated with Amazon's elastic compute offering, while a content delivery capability would allow customers to better deliver virtual machines in specific areas across the country.
"That's the secret sauce – at the end of the day, it's alright having a VM but if it's dog-slow and cheap it doesn't really help you," he said.
Yuile wasn't able to confirm whether the cloud product would be sold under a private or public model – the latter of which he described as much more competitive.
"We're sort of welcoming all comers right now," he said.
"We're not going to price like Amazon because they're the leader in this but we'll have some options to come in above that. It's a tough market place but we think the bundling will help a lot."
The telco has no plans to expand its data centre capacity, with between 300 and 400 racks still available for fit-out for the cloud offering.
However, Yuile said the telco continued to upgrade inter-city backhaul links as demand grew for videoconferencing and cloud products. The company claimed pole position in upgrading a wavelength of its Sydney-Melbourne link to 100G technology in April, which Yuile said was already at half saturation.
It was not commercially viable to upgrade all wavelengths with the same technology, which currently sit at a total 400 Gbps capacity between the cities, Yuile said upgrades were "happening all the time" on the links.
Internal cloud adoption
AAPT has also continued its fervent adoption of cloud services for internal use, picking up Citrix's GoToMeeting hosted chat rooms for videoconference meetings with clients, and finalising moves to the hosted IPscape call centre offering to replace its Genesys software.
The company is preparing to double its 400-seat salesforce.com deployment to replace a decade-old fault ticketing system in order to get a common customer database between sales and servicing.
"We've just moved our billing disputes and we're going to move a lot of our faults," Yuile said.
"We'll end up with effectively not a sales tool, but a trouble ticketing tool and that will allow us to really simplify our environment."
The company also uses Google Apps for staff.
Consideration of future cloud software moves would be focused on low-volume and non-core tasks for the company.
"I think it continues this theme of enterprise software shifting over time," Yuile said.
"We'll still have an enterprise-grade billing because we're a telco and it's such a critical thing and it's super-high volume. Whereas hopefully we don't get that many trouble tickets in a day."
Mediation systems, inventory database solutions and financials are all also deployed in-house, though Yuile hoped to take better advantage of the telco's own cloud infrastructure.
"You got to take advantage of your own scale of mass," he said.
"I think it's important to understand what's the benefit of putting stuff in the cloud. You don't just say 'I'll put stuff in the cloud', and then you've got core competencies moving there."
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