AAPT to expand into infrastructure-as-a-service

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AAPT to expand into infrastructure-as-a-service

Diversifies hosted business beyond Google's enterprise platform.

Business telco AAPT has revealed plans to launch storage and server infrastructure-as-a-service products.

The telco also planned to expand its range of software-as-a-service offerings beyond the Google Apps for Enterprise suite it had offered since December 2009.

Chief operations officer David Yuile told iTnews the telco planned a "higher-end" hosted storage service as well as what he called "Solaris-as-a-service".

Last year, AAPT invested $8 million in Sun server hardware, NetApp storage arrays and desktop virtualisation software for internal use.

It was unclear whether AAPT had invested further in its systems or planned to partition the existing ones to house these new products. A spokesman was contacted for further comment.

SaaS expansion

AAPT will this week start reselling a hosted call centre package consisting of IPscape's hosted software and AAPT voice connectivity.

Yuile said AAPT was also replacing its own call centre systems internally with the hosted IPscape product.

He said the telco was also "contemplating" a virtual desktop service that could be offered to customers, although he noted that it was "more like a twinkle in the eye at the moment" than a planned launch.

Yuile said that AAPT's software-as-a-service strategy was to provide point solutions, not an "integrated suite".

"We believe the market will choose point [solutions] rather than everything from one person," he said.

Rival Optus said last week it planned to offer an integrated suite of hosted software products to customers before July, with Google Apps as the suite's anchor product. Optus declined to reveal what else it would include in the integrated suite, nor how it would be priced.

The Google enterprise experience

Optus was decidedly late to the Google Apps party when it announced plans to resell the service last week.

And it was likely to face significant challenges in convincing small businesses to switch from incumbent systems such as Microsoft Office to the fledgling Google Apps platform.

Yuile was welcoming of Optus' entry into the resale of the Google platform, believing it would help build awareness of Google hosted services generally.

"We're excited someone else is coming onto the wagon," he said.

However, Yuile said that selling Google's enterprise software had proven "tougher than we [initially] thought".

"We're starting to get some traction in the space but to be honest, it's not that massive," he said.

"I don't think it has hit the mainstream in Australia yet. Lots of people say the Google Apps pack is interesting but still [stay with what they have].

"They might use it ad-hoc but I don't think they're using it as a replacement for Microsoft."

Yuile said Gmail adoption by business customers, however, had been a "surprise".

"We're getting good traction with [Gmail]," he said.

And he expected more interest in the suite would come when Google released a long-awaited update to its videoconferencing capabilities that catered to multiple users around a table, rather than just point-to-point (i.e. one user to another using separate computers).

The group videoconferencing product was rumoured to be released sometime next month.

AAPT internally used Google's enterprise platform for its corporate email system.

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