Dimension Data has launched what it calls New Zealand’s first global, enterprise-class cloud platform with local support, with the company planning an aggressive assault on the local market.
The company’s Managed Cloud Platform (MCP), will be the thirteenth to be deployed globally when it goes live in December, and will include public, private and hybrid options. The data centre is based in Hamilton.
The MCPs are linked together in a global cloud exchange, allowing Kiwi users to burst out for extra capacity to the international systems. Customers can choose where in the world specific data is stored – choosing certain countries for data and others for computer power, if desired.
Organisations with operations in multiple locations around the world can log into the different local systems, but still have everything captured in a single bill in New Zealand.
Bill Padfield, Dimension Data Asia Pacific CEO, says while the company believes its technology elevates it above the competition ‘if we have to fight on the commercial front, we will do’.
That fight includes a range of flexible payment models – and the potential for Dimension Data to ‘buy-back’ a customer’s recently acquired servers in an effort to expedite the move to cloud.
“We are quite aggressive from the commercial side as well as the technical side, to make sure we come out with a plan that works for clients,” Padfield says.
“If clients have just brought a whole new set of servers in the data centre… trying to talk to these guys about removing everything under the sun and moving to cloud is very difficult.
“So we have have some commercial ability to buy back servers to enable people to move to cloud, where we come up with a commercial model that just makes sense for them.”
James Walls, Dimension Data New Zealand technology manager, says the company is having ‘a number of conversations with a variety of clients’ about buy-back. “Interestingly, here is it much more around SAN than server.”
Padfield, who was in New Zealand for the launch of the service, says payment models range from pre-loading capacity to ‘just spinning up servers and using it with a credit card for a period of time’.
“We've got a whole range of flexible options to enable people to get to this utility model whichever way they want.”
The system is built on industry standard technologies, enabling quick and easy portability from one cloud structure to another, he adds.
Just another form of outsourcing
While Padfield is proud of the cloud platform technology, he says the services layered on top will be the biggest differentiator.
Dimension Data has already ported Microsoft Exchange, Sharepoint and Lync onto the system. The result, Cloud Solutions for Microsoft (CSFM), ‘enables a slightly different proposition to Office 365’ allowing data to be stored where the client wants.
“Microsoft with Azure and 365 will take your data wherever their data centres are, but they realized not every client is going to be happy to do that,” Padfield says. “So they worked with us to come up with this solution to fill that gap.”
The company has also ported SAP onto the system. Padfield says where two or three years ago a lot were doing test and development on cloud, over the past 18 months he’s seen a big wave of production code going to cloud, with ERP one of the main areas, and SAP one of the main platforms.
He says Dimension Data will be layering more managed services on top.
“Compute as a service was interesting for a while, but really it’s now how do you layer on more services?
“We've got the Microsoft services with CSFM. On top of that, you’ll see future services over the next few quarters that will just layer on things like voice, video and various other services.
“That’s what we believe will be our differentiator: that people can subscribe to these managed services that just happen to be delivered through a cloud platform, rather than just CPU hours or storage per X cents per hour.
“Cloud is really just another form of outsourcing. It just happens to be delivered by this platform.”
Padfield says given New Zealand’s enthusiasm for virtualisation, it was ‘frustrating that we couldn't get an MCP here faster’.
“But these things cost millions per system and we wanted to make sure we had enough users stacked up on this thing to justify the investment, which we now believe we have.”