Optus cloud features scant but evolving

Optus private cloud an infant in a sparse landscape

Optus’ first foray into the private cloud market will provide another option in a continually sparse landscape, but the telco has admitted the offering remains in its infancy.

Acting managing director of Optus Business, Rob Parcell, said the telco’s new Optus Cloud Solutions suite, launching next month, was a play on the growth in demand for private cloud services within Australia on the back of its acquisition of Alphawest in 2004. The suite would guarantee services are deployed on Optus’ private data centres within Australian borders and provide low latency connections via cloud-enabled MPLS links.

However, the number and type of services offered over the cloud at launch will remain limited.

Customers will be able to purchase slices of computing power in 0.5GHz chunks with 1GB of memory for $125 per month, alongside 1GB of storage for either 30c in a standard operating mode, or 60c with high performance capacities. They will also be able to deploy virtualised machines on a VMware platform, choosing either from a master catalog of Microsoft operating systems or deploying any chosen operating system under the customer’s own licensing arrangements.

Optus will also offer firewall services at an additional charge, but won’t make pricing until launch. Other potential services, such as disaster recovery and software-as-a-service remain only a potential in the future.

“We will admit that we are evolving,” Parcell said. “We approached this by saying ‘hey we understand the technology, we’re going to have a look at it, and then we’re going to talk to customers and find out what they want’.”

Rather than provide a full suite of offerings from day one, Parcell said the feedback from customers during early stages in areas of cloud-based test and development would determine how it is extended.

“It’s sort of becoming a ‘more’ type of approach to cloud infrastructure which we will then be able to demonstrate the capability, which we will then move into more business critical applications.”

Until then, Optus’ cloud will likely be targeted as a hybrid cloud solution between customers’ existing on-site infrastructure and the telco’s private data centres.

One of the customers touted at its launch, Savills, trialled the private cloud as a disaster recovery platform but, as Optus doesn’t yet offer disaster recovery features itself, the cloud essentially became a self-provisioned off-site data centre for redundancy.

Curtin University of Technology had also trialled the cloud since its inception as the “Redwood” program at the beginning of the year, but the university’s infrastructure director, Julian Dawson, said he wouldn’t be sure of the commercial viability of Optus’ offerings until the trial is extended to researchers at the Curtin-hosted International Centre for Radio Astronomy next month. Dawson, too, said the lack of disaster recovery limited the university’s ability to invest heavily in the suite.

“We have the capability of backing up the de-duplicated copy of anything from virtually anywhere back to [EMC] Avamar so that’s probably the service we’ll offer to researchers who want to access the cloud but can’t reach the levels of DR (disaster recovery),” Dawson told Computerworld Australia. “They’ll probably use it for compute and bring the information back so we’ll manage that. We’ll never put anything that’s business related out into the cloud and not have DR.”

Optus recently announced it, along with parent company SingTel, would become the first telcos to join VMware’s vCloud Datacenter Service program, offering an IT-as-a-service public cloud on the back of VMware infrastructure. The public cloud offering will sit alongside Optus Cloud Solutions, but it remains unclear whether the two will be interoperable.

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