Optus plans to skim the cream off the cloud

New strategy rests on networks and services, the cloud bits that sell for more than cents

Optus Logo

Margins in the cloud are rubbish: when you're selling servers for cents, there's precious little left for the bottom line.

But Australia's second-largest telco Optus looks to be smart enough to have figured that out and devise a strategy that instead lets it go for the richest, most-monied parts of the cloud.

The strategy was delivered at Optus Vision, a customer gabfest held yesterday in Sydney.

Optus' version was the usual happy mess of corporate-speak it boils down to four words. But if you've ever engaged with a decently-sized system integrator you'll have heard this stuff before because Optus reckons it has hired and/or trained people so they're cunning enough to "advise" (Optus' preferred word) you how to get the most from the cloud. Those folks will help you place and/or migrate workloads to the cloud (transformation in Optus-speak). Once they're there, Optus will make sure they keep running (a piece called "manage") and keep out the hackers ("secure").

The company says the advise and transform capabilities come largely from its late 2014 acquisition of gun Microsoft cloud shop Ensyst, whose 100-odd staff can apparently do remarkable things with the Azure clone the telco announced last month. That instance of Microsoft Cloud OS has now been given the Express Route treatment, the better to connect it over lovely fast optic fibres to your bit barn or Azure should you so require. Optus subsidiary Uecomm can help, as it now does bursty network connections on top of its normal fare.

Those two connectivity-related items were Optus' news yesterday. The company's previously announced its participation in Cisco's intercloud and general love for all thing Borg. It's also got a servers and storage to rent, if you want 'em, and plenty of application partners lined up if you want to do something SaaSy, in a pure-play or hybrid arrangement.

And of course it also has a network, which is terribly important to get bits in and out of the cloud.

There's a laundry list of top-tier partners to make everything happen, and a commitment to hooking up to anything customers want: the company's very keen on Microsoft for now but also has plenty of love for AWS and VMware. Or indeed just about anything you want cloudified if you ask nicely.

Does this add up to a “strategy”? To your correspondent, Optus looks to be saying that it's accumulated about as much expertise as it's possible to have at this early stage of the cloud caper and has partnered with people who make clouds hum and/or provide the apps people want to use. It's also talent-spotted some ISVs you'll may find interesting. Terribly devious people who can out-think the bad guys to keep your cloud secure are also to hand. Indeed, Optus plans to up its tally of such folk from 50-150 (but can't convincingly explain where they'll come from). Those folks, and less colourful cloud-wranglers, stand ready to do managed services so that you don't need to trouble your pretty little head with all this confusing new cloud stuff.

When The Reg talks to cloudy types, they say the nastiest surprise organisations get when they go to the cloud is communications costs. Getting all that data in and out, and shaking it all about, costs money. Optus has a network and isn't afraid to use it. Or charge for it.

Also expensive is anything to do with people. Which Optus is also keen to rent you in the form of those advisers, transformers, managers and secureness-makers.

So while AWS and Microsoft and Digital Ocean and (to a lesser extent) VMware spend a lot of time talking about their low, low, prices for servers-by-the-second, Optus will be out there talking about high-value services, passing on the wares of its favoured ISVs at a markup and watching the bit-meter tick over on its networks. Infrastructure providers will try to milk customers for any drop of revenue. Optus will sip the cream.

And along the way it may well be so very helpful that you find yourself quite reliant on the cloud, but without the skills to do the lovely things Optus does. Or the will to disentangle from its networks and infrastructure.

So welcome back to outsourcing, dear readers, but without natural jump-off or restructuring points. We hope Optus shares some of the cream with you. ®

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