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NTT Aims Innovation Efforts at US Enterprises

Carol Wilson
12/18/2013
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NTT is preparing another major push into the US market, opening a new innovation center in Silicon Valley that will both import Japanese innovations and take advantage of some developed here.

The new facility is the NTT Innovation Institute Inc. (NTTi3, pronounced "NTT I cubed"), the research and development arm of the NTT Group (NYSE: NTT) that was created last April in San Mateo, Calif. Over the next four to five years, NTT will use NTTi3 as a base of operations for expanding its US business, says Srini Koushik, CEO of NTTi3.

"This is one of the most competitive markets in the world, and we think we can gain a bigger share of that market," Koushik says. "A core part of that strategy is to make sure we are making a significant investment in the US and putting that investment in Silicon Valley."

NTT has been quietly growing in the US for years now through multiple existing subsidiaries, including NTT America Inc. , Dimension Data , and NTT Data Corp. The Japanese giant already carries 45% of the traffic between the US and Asia over its Internet backbone, but it is eying enterprise services such as hybrid cloud offerings, software-as-a-service, and comprehensive service as its next growth opportunities. It is hoping to build upon what it is already doing in Japan and extend its capabilities further.

The idea is to start with customers of its existing subsidiaries and build on that business by solving more complex business and IT problems, Koushik says. To that end, NTTi3 will launch a customer experience center in Palo Alto as early as late February. It will be a place where customers can come and spend time discussing and working on their issues with NTT's best and brightest, including those associated with NTT but working at nearby schools, such as Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley.

One initial focus of the NTTi3 will be on creating the tools enterprises need to move more of their applications and critical work into the cloud more confidently, Koushik says. There will be a heavy emphasis on managing complex hybrid cloud environments to make them easier to use and more secure. Support of greater mobility and contextually based security are two other areas of interest for NTTi3's early efforts.

Moving many applications and business processes into the cloud remains too complex a process for many enterprises. One of NTTi3's immediate goals is to bring greater automation to that process, Koushik says.

"The cloud marketplace in the US is the most advanced in the world, and if we can develop something and make it work here, we can take it into other markets," he adds.

But Koushik also points to newer trends, such as 3D printing and wearable technology. These trends may be taking off in Japan ahead of their deployment here and are thus ripe for exposure to a US audience. For example, NTT engineers in Japan have already developed a washable fabric for wearable computing. About 30% of what NTTi3 does will be brought from Japan to the US.

"This is about taking the concept of innovation and making it real," he says. "We want to have a truly collaborative community. We have experts from the operating company that can come in and collaborate in brainstorming sessions, and our center will have 100 people from NTT sitting in it, our best experts."

Yet another benefit to being in Silicon Valley is the easier exposure to innovative efforts of start-ups there. NTTi3 has already partnered with one such company, CliQr, on its cloud automation efforts. NTTi3 will be able to bring products to market more quickly as a result.

"We have two customers, not yet announced, that are looking at the first release," of the cloud automation product set, Koushik says. "As we talk to CIOs, we've learned they are not comfortable moving critical apps to cloud. We are identifying those and showing how we can automate the process of migrating over and then show how they can be monitored and managed afterward."

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

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Sarah Thomas
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Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
12/19/2013 | 3:00:33 PM
Re: Interesting move
Focusing on enterprise definitely seems smart. Even though the operators who opened labs to build for consumers have ended up largely switching gears to focus on the less saturated enterprise.
DOShea
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DOShea,
User Rank: Blogger
12/18/2013 | 8:52:10 PM
Interesting move
NTTi3 should be an interesting wild card in the enterprise services market I also makes me wonder if other service providers from outside the US who have been targeting enterprise here have done anything similar in terms of an innovation center--or maybe if they haven't, they should
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