As enterprise customers focus on multi-cloud and edge environments as the next step of their digital transformations, George Malim reports from Huawei’s Eco-Connect Europe 2019 event in Paris, France, where Orange Business Services executives detailed how the business consumption of network and IT is changing.
With presence in more than 200 countries and revenues of €7.3bn, Orange Business Services has long been recognised as a provider of global connectivity to enterprises. However, it is increasingly becoming and IT provider, reporting 25% year-on-year growth in cybersecurity revenues and 21% year-on-year growth in cloud services revenues.
“We’ve moved in a very determined way to softwarisation and our vision is to become the vendor of the Internet of Enterprises,” said Anne-Marie Thiollet, the vice president of connectivity business unit at Orange Business Services. “We strongly believe that the Internet of Enterprises will generate a large amount of data that enterprises will need to collect, transport, store and analyse. Our objective is to empower our business-to-business customers to exploit more of the value of data for their enterprise needs.”
Her colleague Cedric Parent, the company’s deputy chief executive and chief marketing officer for cloud, added that the company has been working to position itself to address customers needs in cloud and edge.
“Innovation is not only about software and services, equipment and technology,” he explained. “It’s about the skills and capabilities, you have to co-innovate and collaborate with your customers.”
Parent pointed out that Orange Business Service now employs more than 700 developers, 2,200 cloud experts and 2,400 experts in cyber defence – that’s out of a total employee base of about 25,000 workers. “We also have about 2,500 people in artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics,” he said. “This is more than 4,000 people who have joined the Orange Business Services family in the last 12 months. The skills are important but when it comes to cloud so is the experience.”
Parent sees three major trends that are now well-established across the enterprise communications and IT market. “The customers and companies are moving to cloud and there is a paradigm shift,” he said. “In the past, cloud services were about shadow IT but also related to cost optimisation. Today, cloud is an essence, a fundamental component of the business, it’s not about cost or shadow IT, it’s about critical applications.”
The second trend is the move away from having a single cloud provider to support an enterprise. “This is now a multi-cloud environment, 80% of companies use multiple cloud services,” he said. “Today 90% of enterprises with more than 2,000 employees are multi-cloud [users] and most of the time it’s five, six or seven cloud providers that they’re using. And, with edge arriving, this by design will increase. Their key aim is to avoid vendor lock-in – customers don’t want to be constrained.”
This growing demand for freedom is more pronounced as more services move to the cloud. “Probably the most important [trend] is it’s not only new services that are moving to cloud,” added Parent. “Today, massively, customers are moving business critical apps to cloud. In the past, cloud was only about flexibility and agility now it’s about quality of service, being able to do things at scale and having reliable and secure [communications and IT] infrastructure.
Thiollet also sees the shift to multi-cloud and the increased reliance on multi-cloud environments for critical apps. “There’s a big shift to multi-cloud and managing critical apps in the cloud is having a great impact on the networks,” she said. “At the same time, the network is more software driven and we see a big shift in traffic patterns. First, there is exponential growth of internet traffic, also linked to cloud growth is the growth of internet and MPLS usage. There is huge demand for increased bandwidth. Next, better monitoring of critical apps is required and more and more improvement to the end user experience. There’s a move to on-demand bandwidth and services and to answer this need we’ve put our Next Generation Hubs in a variety of worldwide locations close to all the major cloud service providers. We’ve reduced latency and optimised network coverage. We enable direct connectivity with more than 40 cloud providers worldwide and ensure cloud performance for end users.”
For Parent, this infrastructure provides the foundation upon which to build attractive propositions for customers and simplify management of the increasingly complex web of suppliers, partners and collaborators. “We’ve had the chance, with partnerships we have signed with Huawei and others, to launch what we called the Cloud Alliance,” he said. “This offers customers one contract, one portal and one catalogue of services. It’s important to have global capacity but also to offer local care.”