Telstra combines SDN and cloud offerings

Telstra says it is bringing cloud-like flexibility to connectivity

Telstra has brought its software-defined network services offerings PEN (the former Pacnet Enabled Network) and its own SDN/NFV service developed in conjunction with Cisco under the umbrella of its cloud services division. The telco has unveiled two services to enable business customers to provision and manage, via a portal, cloud services provided by Telstra and the software-defined connectivity to access them.

Jim Fagan, director platforms for Telstra Global Products, told a press briefing at Telstra’s Vantage customer conference in Melbourne that Telstra’s aim was to provide connectivity with the same flexibility as cloud services.

“We have introduced two unique solutions: One on the network side and one on the cloud management side,” he said. “We have introduced what we call the ‘Global Cloud Gateway’. It allows a customer to plug into the gateway and from their gain access to all our cloud offerings globally, in particular AWS and Microsoft Azure.”

“Also we have launched the Telstra Cloud Management Platform in partnership with US company RightScale. The gives customers visibility and management of their cloud environments. Instead of having to go into their AWS portal, or their Microsoft portal, their private cloud control panel they are able to see what they re using in all those clouds. They have analytics around cost and performance and they get to see their networks, get statistics on compute, network and storage across their entire cloud platform.”

Telstra formerly had a plan to invest massively in its own cloud platform but has wound this back and now sells access to this platform along with several of the main public cloud offerings: IBM Softlayer, Microsoft Azure, AWS, VMware vCloud Air.

Fagan said: “We realised we would not get the returns from investing in our own cloud infrastructure. So we are putting that capex into SDN and NFV so we can provide more value added services.”

Since acquiring Pacnet Telstra has expanded PEN’s coverage beyond Asia. Its Cisco based SDN/NFV offering was launched in March 2016 at Cisco Live. It made its debut at Cisco Live in Melbourne in March 2015 as Symphony, but Telstra has since dropped that name.

Fagan said PEN how had global reach. “We have more than 30 PoPs. We have a presence on the east and west coasts of the US and we have access into Beijing. We are the only company that can provide AWS DirectConnect from the US West Coast into Beijing and we are the only provider that can provide direct connectivity into every AWS availability zone, expect Sao Paulo.”

He said Telstra’s Global Cloud Gateway addressed one of the biggest issues with the integration of networking and cloud services. “One of the problems with networking and cloud has always been that the network does not behave like cloud: infinite scale, on-demand, pay for what you use. If you look at connectivity it is still 30-40 day provisioning, one year contracts, fixed capacity, not workload dependent.”

Armed with these new services, he said Telstra planned to pursue the global cloud service market aggressively, but with a focus on Asia Pacific.

“I now feel we have a very strong value proposition particularly in the APAC market. Companies in Asia Pacific have been struggling with connectivity between countries, management, governance, understanding where their data is. You will see us over the next few months making a big push in cloud globally because we feel we are differentiated and we add value.”

Telstra now ‘cloud first’

Fagan said Telstra was using these services internally after adopting a cloud-first policy two years ago.

“The default position is to use one of the clouds in our portfolio,” Fagan said. “Our goal is that over the next 18 months to two years we will have all Telstra workloads on our management platform and using the gateway.”

He said the use of the Global Cloud Gateway and the Cloud Management Platform would greatly increase the agility with which Telstra could develop and test new services.

“Without these tools we would need four to eight weeks to run a proof of concept and get customer feedback. Now that is down to hours. We can build it and strip it down as needed. It will increase our speed of innovation and the value we get out of the cloud.”

He added: “we have created a service catalogue so now business units can provision resources themselves. We can have pre-provisioned scripts and templates for application we know we will provision on AWS.”

However, he said the storage of Telstra data in public cloud services would be tightly managed. “We have a protocol on what we will and will not run on public cloud.Our Security operations team is very involved in that.”

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