As telecom providers look to expand their service offerings and increase revenue, many are looking to public cloud services. But building, deploying and maintaining a public cloud can be complex and costly. That's where French cloud and managed service provider eNovance, which recently expanded to North America, found a niche in helping telecom providers build and deploy public clouds using OpenStack.
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Philippe Theriault, chief commercial officer, and Nick Barcet, VP of products, at eNovance talked to SearchTelecom.com about why the provider made the jump to helping telecom providers build public clouds and why the OpenStack public cloud platform should be the top choice for telcos looking to enter the cloud.
How did you get into the business of helping telcos deploy public clouds?
Philippe Theriault: We first launched the first OpenStack-based cloud in Europe. The name of the product was eNocloud, and eNocloud ended up winning a lot of prizes for having the fastest performance, being the most secure and a bunch of other prizes. We did that when OpenStack was not as mature as it is right now, so we basically succeeded where we know a lot of others failed to make OpenStack stable and reliable, and a good, profitable platform to launch a public cloud service.
The first [telecom] customer was a company called CloudWatt, which is a joint venture between Orange, the European telecom company; the French government and a company called Thales. The goal of CloudWatt is basically to become the Amazon of Europe. We were selected by CloudWatt to help them to launch their service, and we succeeded.
What OpenStack features and functions are beneficial to telcos?
Nick Barcet: The main feature that OpenStack has is that it can be scaled and defined to match the level of service that you want to offer. If you want to offer a very high-end service, you are able to integrate OpenStack with very high-end back-ends. And if you want to offer a very cheap service, you can integrate with very cheap back-ends. Because there are no licensing costs, you are free to define your offering and compete at whatever level you want.
This is a unique feature in the industry, as all other offerings are either very expensive in terms of licensing -- therefore blocking you out of some types of market -- or limited in terms of back-end [integration] -- therefore not allowing you to give the level of offering you want. If you want a framework for people to define the types of service they want to offer in the cloud, we often say that OpenStack is the operating system of the cloud.
Theriault: From the technical standpoint, one general comment we hear a lot is that OpenStack supports almost every hypervisor. So it's really compatible with almost everything. If you are a provider … if you go with OpenStack, you have a wide array of operating systems and platforms to integrate with.
And specifically, telcos are seeing a decline in their average revenue per user. The way to cope with that is to develop additional services leveraging their bandwidth in order to sell more bandwidth.
By providing services and by going with OpenStack, the fact that you do not have to pay for very expensive licenses gives you much bigger profitability and gives you a price point where you can really compete with any other provider in the market.
Do you think OpenStack should be the platform of choice for telecom companies looking to build a public cloud because of all these features?
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Theriault: Some business cases could certainly be more interesting or more attractive using other platforms. But we believe that for the vast majority of the needs of any given customer, OpenStack has almost everything that you need. … It took only one year for OpenStack to basically reach the level of commitment that it took 10 years for Linux to reach.
That's an amazing support and evolution, and we see that at every OpenStack Summit. People are contributing to the community, bringing their expertise, bringing their knowledge or bringing their talent to contribute to the code, to the community version.
Carriers typically require commercial support from vendors. As an open source project, OpenStack doesn't provide that. How can telcos interested in OpenStack reconcile this?
Barcet: We add value by putting [telcos'] needs on top, below or on the side of OpenStack. We also provide them with not only support, but also with a complete handling of the lifecycle of the platform. Because [of] the evolution of cloud -- the evolution of OpenStack in particular -- [there is a] new version every six months. Keeping the platform up to date is a key requirement.
Theriault: We really want to partner with our customers … and the way we make sure our customers are having success is by helping them have the right products for the right audience. We're part of the whole ecosystem. We bring that expertise from guys who work for various cloud service providers and know what is profitable, what is not profitable, what attracts customers and what does not.