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Dimension Data puffs up cloud partners

Chasing telcos, SPs, and governments through the channel

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South Africa systems integrator Dimension Data launched a wide array of cloudy infrastructure services back in February, and now it is enlisting a service providers to help push the products.

Dimension Data, which sports around $5.8bn a year in annual revenues, was acquired for $3.2bn by Nippon Telephone & Telegraph in July 2010 and threw its hat into the public and private cloud rings when it acquired cloud provider OpSource for an undisclosed sum in July 2010.

In February, the company rolled out its converged hosting and cloud services from its Cloud Services division. Like Amazon Web Services, it spans the globe, but unlike AWS it comes in a white-label version. The white-label kit allows service providers to use the Managed Cloud Platform created by Dimension Data and rebrand it – in addition to allowing customers to grab a chunk of the Managed Cloud Platform cloud and have it installed in their own private data center and run by Dimension Data.

The Dimension Data cloud business also includes assets from Internet Solutions, South Africa's largest service provider – which DiData part-owned for several years before snapping up the last piece in 2006, at which point IS became a DiData division – and assets from BlueFire, a managed hosting and application provider based in Australia.

Back in February, when the unified cloud mash-up all of these products was launched, Dimension Data had done thousands of server virtualization projects and had virtualized over 100,000 physical servers in its systems integration business. Of the 6,000 customers that the South African firm has worldwide, 1,000 of them were using its public cloud, and according to Keao Caindec, chief marketing officer of the Cloud Solutions division, that public cloud business was growing at 20 per cent per month.

The Provider Compute as a Service, or Provider CaaS, infrastructure cloud that Dimension Data rolled out in February as part of its big cloudy launch is being enhanced with a new channel partner program called OneCloud, and the idea is to get service providers who might be thinking of building their own infrastructure clouds to throw in the towel and decide that rebranding the Provider CaaS service is the way to go. The OneCloud program is sweetener for the deal, in effect.

The OneCloud partner program is aimed at two distinct groups of possible cloud providers. The first group of potential partners includes the traditional service providers, such as telecom companies, hosting companies, and data service providers who could get the capital and expertise together to build an infrastructure cloud and integrate it with billing systems.

The second group is comprised of governments, trading communities, educational institutions, and non-profits that want to build a cloud to serve a community of some sort and almost certainly do not have the skills or money to do so. This second group also includes the contractors who build systems for governments. For instance, Dimension Data has partnered with a government contractor to take the MCP cloud designed by the South African company, including all of its management and billing tools, and will be installing carbon copies of the MCP cloud in Mexico for various government agencies that require that a Mexican company be the primary contractor and that the equipment making up the cloud be physically located in Mexico. These political and geographical restrictions are set up in just about every country on the planet, and white-labeling and local operations of the cloud is one way to get around it. (In essence, it is not much different from buying Super Micro piece parts for a server, switch, or storage array and rebranding it and peddling it locally.)

"One of the biggest challenges of launching a true public cloud service is doing the integration and orchestration, adding the billing, and doing the pricing and marketing," says Caindec. "For many of these organizations, this is an entirely new and different business, and we can get them up and running in a matter of months instead of a year."

The OneCloud program takes 12 to 16 weeks to get a cloud up and running for a partner, depending on whether the service provider wants to get a cloud installed on their premises or use the one that Dimension Data already has spread across its data centers. Those are located in San Jose, California and Ashburn, Virginia for the United States and Canada; Amsterdam in the Netherlands for Western Europe; and Sydney, Australia for the Asia/Pacific region. The company fired up a data center in Johannesburg on time in the second quarter, as planned, but it is taking longer to get the Managed Cloud Platform public cloud up and running in its Hong Kong data center than planned; it will be up later this year, serving the Asian market with lower latencies than is possible from the Sydney or San Jose centers.

The OneCloud channel program builds on a service provider and SaaS software provider channel program that was established by OpSource and focused mainly on companies in the United States. Dimension Data has kicked in funds for marketing and development to help service providers as well as funds to support the OneCloud effort for several years; the exact amount of funds was not divulged. ®

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