Hutchinson is deploying basic IaaS services for a small number of customers currently, as well as proofs of concept for SaaS providers. It provides security services, and telephony will be ready by the end of June. The next round of PoCs for SaaS providers is expected in June through August, Hampton says.
Hutchinson went with Cisco because, particularly at the time it was getting started, the two most complete solutions on the market were Cisco's ACI and VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) NSX. Cisco offered a good SDN implementation for a company like Hutchinson that did not have a big DevOps capability. Cisco provides a centralized control plane, with APIC serving as an SDN controller and the Nexus 9000 switches for hardware. ACI has REST APIs to connect with orchestration tools, integration with VM managers and programmability. Its leaf-spine architecture provides scalability of multiple 40Gbit/s links, "up to an enormous level," Hampton says.
Cisco differentiates from VMware in that it integrates API with hardware, while VMware operates an overlay model. "We're not building a different network and overlaying something on top," Hampton says. Cisco supports non-virtualized workloads on the physical domain.
One big problem for any company getting into the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) business today is how they'll compete with giants such as Amazon Web Services Inc. and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Azure. While Hutchinson lacks those companies' entrenched position and scale, it has a few resources at its disposal.
First, it offers UK data sovereignty, based in Scotland, with colocation centers in London and Edinburgh. The big players have a presence in the Netherlands and Ireland, mostly. "If you want to ensure your data is in the UK, you need to go somewhere else," Hampton says. "That will change over time," but it gives Hutchinson a competitive advantage today, he says.
Also, Hutchinson gives customers the choice of where to host data. Microsoft and Amazon are location-independent by design. You don't know where your data is physically located, Hampton says.
In addition, Hutchinson offers both the cloud platform and professional services to get customers up and running on it. The big IaaS providers just provide the platform; professional services come from partners. "We've had a number of customers who've gone to big IaaS providers who were told to go to their portal and figure it out. We're higher touch," Hampton says. "If you want to consult, we'll help you migrate to our platform. We won't just send you to the portal and tell you to figure it out there."
Its capabilities in areas including data sovereignty, consulting, performance and security give Hutchinson the edge it needs to succeed in the market, Hampton says. "It won't get us to mass market, but it will let us compete head to head," he says.
— Mitch Wagner, , Editor, Light Reading Enterprise Cloud.