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Cloud services

Orange/SITA Cloud Prepares for Takeoff

The managed cloud services collaboration between Orange Business Services and SITA is set to bear fruit from June this year when their first jointly managed data centers become operational in a few months' time. (See SITA and Orange Business Services Join Forces.)

Three data centers in Atlanta, Frankfurt and Singapore will form the first phase of operations in June this year, followed by three more in Hong Kong, Sydney and Johannesburg by November 2012, says Axel Haentjens, vice president of cloud computing at Orange Business Services (OBS), the business services division of Orange (NYSE: FTE).

OBS has not revealed its level of investment in the infrastructure, although CEO Vivek Badrinath suggested during a media trip to the international operator's Major Service Centre in Gurgaon, India, late last year that "investment is in the low double-digit million euros so far." (See Inside Orange's Gurgaon Service Center.)

That the partners are using capacity in existing data centers will help minimize startup costs.

The two companies plan to make use of the joint infrastructure to develop and market cloud-based services to their respective customer bases: OBS to multinational corporations and SITA to airlines and airports.

Yet for OBS, the joint venture has significance beyond the development of cloud services, which represent one of its key future areas of growth: SITA is also the largest international client of OBS after a 10-year collaboration between the two companies that began when the former SITA network company Equant became part of the France Telecom group. (See Cloud Plans Need IT/Telco Unity.)

OBS would not officially confirm how much revenue it gets from its SITA business, but speaking during the tour of the Gurgaon facilities, Paul Joyce, senior vice president of international operations within customer services and operations at OBS, suggested that SITA accounts for between 20 percent and 30 percent of the company’s international business.

"SITA is the reason why we have such a large network," added Badrinath. "Because of SITA we are in many countries [220 in total] ... and this allows us to develop new services in all these countries."

OBS and SITA renewed their relationship in 2009 with a seven-year deal valued at US$2 billion.

The ongoing relationship between SITA and OBS and their new cloud infrastructure venture helps to reinforce two of OBS's biggest strategic growth areas: the continuing support of airlines and airports as the largest single vertical within its international business; and growth of its overall business through cloud-based services.

OBS has already announced the introduction of Business Together as a Service, a unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) solution to be offered via the dedicated cloud-computing infrastructure with SITA. (See Orange Fluffs Up UC Cloud.)

"We will develop our own Orange portfolio of cloud-based services and apps for MNCs" on top of the joint infrastructure, said Haentjens, who noted that Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offerings (Flexible Computing Express and Flexible Computing Premium) as well as the UCaaS applications are among the first to be offered.

Based on the Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution, the Business Together as a Service unified communications offering is already available in France, where it is being used by at least six customers, including Xerox General Services, Danone, Ondéo IS and Orange Labs. Now it is being rolled out in other European markets and, later in 2012, in other regions.

OBS has also been attracting smaller cloud services enterprise users; In January it announced it had more than 3,600 cloud services customers, including 110 for the Flexible Computing Express Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offer and more than 2,500 small businesses that are using its Cloud Pro suite of applications. That level of business puts it on course to hit its annual cloud services revenues target of €500 million (US$650 million) by 2015. (See Orange Boasts Cloud Customers.)

— Anne Morris, freelance editor, special to Light Reading

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