Telstra pushes cloud to large enterprises

Three-year Accenture partnership moves beyond mid-enterprise T-Suite offerings, but plan lack details

Telstra (ASX:TLS) and Accenture will jointly push an off-premise private cloud virtualisation platform to large enterprise and government departments in a move that signals the incumbent telco’s view beyond mid-enterprise cloud offerings.

The three-year alliance, which will likely be renewed on completion, was signed between the companies in April but announced this week to ensure all aspects of the deal were “well thought through”. The relationship will see Accenture provide application migration and management services to customers, which will be virtualised on a Telstra private cloud environment known as Network Computing Services.

While neither Telstra or Accenture could confirm the technical details of the virtualisation environment in which the applications will be based, it is believed to be the second of two new clouds Telstra has formulated for enterprise customers. The other, an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platform codenamed ‘Silver Lining’, was first unveiled in April as a $500 million cloud compute centre for a similar set of enterprise and government customers, and is currently purported to have under 100 customers.

Telstra also offers Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite and is set to host the computing giant’s Web-based Office 365 platform later this year on its T-Suite environment, both of which are targeted toward small to mid-level enterprises. The alliance with Accenture and Silver Lining project are expected to be advances into a set of larger potential users.

Civil contractor, Fulton Hogan, and global travel agency, Stella Travel, have already signed up to virtualise their applications in the Network Computing Services environment, with another four undisclosed customers already signing the agreement. Accenture’s managing director of Australia communications and high tech, Steve Willis, said another 30 to 40 customers were in advanced talks to use the environment.

Though unwilling to speculate on application sets or compatibility with physical infrastructure, Willis noted that testing and development was one priority for approaches to market.

“One of the big things that a company like a products company or even a financial services company is technology will often get in the way when they’re tyring to take products to market fast,” he said. “It can take eight months to stand up an environment that will allow you to test a product and get a product into the marketplace.

“We’ve actually found.. you can take that three to four month cycle and you can bring it down to as little as five days on a virtualised environment on the cloud.”

Willis said work between the two companies currently revolved around deploying the network computing infrastructure and integrating the diverged roadmaps to include application priorities from both, such as unified communications. Under the alliance, customers will not necessarily see one brand dominate over another, but rather the contracts would be held by whichever company initiated discussions.

Accenture, which helped to virtualise Telstra’s internal server environment, had already established a significant knowledge base of the telco’s infrastructure, and could better cooperate with them than other partners as a result, according to Willis.

“Our perspective is that together we can achieve more for our clients and honestly we can probably occupy a larger space in the marketplace than we can separately in the cloud environment,” he said.