NTT Not Shying Away From Data Center Play

Carol Wilson
3/1/2016
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In unveiling its new Enterprise Cloud services, NTT Communications seems to be signaling a move away from where some large network operators are going. Instead of outsourcing or selling off its data centers, NTT is doubling down in acquiring data center and colocation facilities globally, and promising multi-nationals a seamless global combination of data centers, networking and cloud that goes beyond the basics. (See NTT Launches New Enterprise Cloud.)

In a press conference today, Hideki Kurihara, VP of Cloud Services for NTT Communications Corp. (NYSE: NTT), outlined how his company is using a combination of open source and proprietary technology, including its own extensions to OpenStack, to make it easier for global multi-national and very large domestic enterprises to migrate workloads to the cloud at their own pace, and manage a range of cloud-native and locally based applications easily.

"It is not only about the cloud or the combination of data center, cloud and network," Kurihara said. "The value proposition we provide customers is that those three are seamlessly connected and the customer can build a globally seamless environment for any workload in whichever location they choose."

As part of that strategy, NTT is investing and will continue to invest in buying and building data centers and colocation facilities globally, he said, to give its multi-national customers a wide range of choices. That has included buying Raging Wire data centers in the US and e-shelter in Europe, as well as building out its own facilities such as one currently under construction in Dallas.

"First and foremost, we still see a lot of customer demand in terms of data center locations," Kurihara said. "For the last year, almost every month we have been opening up a data center in one of the global locations, acquiring a company or building a data center by ourselves."


Stay up-to-date on data center strategies including infrastructure in the data center connectivity section of our Data Center page here on Light Reading.

NTT's enhancements to its Enterprise Cloud specifically address what Kurihara describes as the dual challenge that enterprises face in trying to adopt digital technologies such as mobile, social, big data and the Internet of Things, while also migrating traditional workloads to the cloud. Companies wind up with a range of "cloud-native" applications that need constant updating and software iteration in the DevOps mode, alongside traditional applications that need to be based in the cloud in order to be more efficiently run.

The net result is the need for one platform that supports both kinds of apps -- traditional and cloud-native -- along with on-demand network connectivity, colocation services and easily managed access to third-party clouds.

NTT's enhanced Enterprise Cloud is providing that by offering new hosted private cloud capabilities, a multi-tenant cloud based on OpenStack for cloud native workloads, and two connections between them -- one using software-defined networking (SDN) at Layer 2 and the other a best effort 10 Gigabit per second closed network that is offered free of charge. Its cloud management platform manages all of that, along with public clouds, offering unified control and the ability to use a single console for management or to delegate management pieces to other consoles.

NTT's new hosted private cloud capabilities support traditional apps, combining bare-metal servers with the automated, pay-as-you-go capabilities of public clouds including a choice of hypervisors -- either VMWare's vSphere or Microsoft Hyper-V. Its multi-tenant cloud give enterprises a standard, open applications programming interface to automate cloud control and incorporate Cloud Foundry as an open source platform-as-a-service (PaaS) capability support agile development for the newer digital apps.

By creating a single way to manage the diversity of cloud environments, NTT intends to take away key concerns of enterprises, Kurihara says, including those involving security. As hybrid cloud environments become more complex, enterprise IT managers fear losing control and are concerned that a security breach in one part of the network could compromise the entire operation. That is one of the things addressed by NTT's cloud management system, which provides visibility across the platform.

NTT enabled all of this with some of its own development work including its own extensions to OpenStack. Kurihara praised OpenStack for its support of microservice environments, but admitted there are limitations, which NTT is trying to address on its own, particularly when it comes to integrating the data center, the network and the cloud.

As a result, NTT built its own network controller to connect into OpenStack Neutron and into the data center and cloud networks. "We follow the OpenStack microservices framework, but if we need to, we build our own proprietary interface, using the OpenStack syntax," so the two can work together, he said.

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

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danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/2/2016 | 7:52:20 PM
Re: Taking the fork in the road
It is certainly getting harder for managers and adminstrators to feel like they have control over their own network. Some of that has to do with the fact that larger comapnies must rely on vendor infrastructure in order to be agile. It sounds like NTT's service offering here is to provide a level of comfort and security for IT professionals. 
cnwedit
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cnwedit,
User Rank: Light Beer
3/1/2016 | 2:30:42 PM
Re: Taking the fork in the road
NTT seems to be combining buying, renting and building but they are certainly committing to giving its enterprises every option for their cloud migration strategies. 

Of course, the key to all of that is being able to manage it seamlessly without employing an entire staff to do just that, and this is where companies are going to try to differentiate, regardless of whether they are buying, renting or building their own data centers. 
mendyk
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mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/1/2016 | 2:09:29 PM
Taking the fork in the road
It will be fun (did I really say fun?) watching the own-vs.-rent strategies play out over the next decade. Certainly, the move to virtualization plays right to the strength of distributed data centers. And own-vs.-rent typically comes down to a long-term vs. short-term proposition.
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