Dimension Data Builds On OpSource With New Cloud Services

Dimension Data took a giant step into the cloud Thursday, announcing a suite of services designed to create public, private and hybrid computing clouds for businesses.

Called Dimension Data Cloud Services, the offering is the company’s full-fledged entrance into the cloud services market following its purchase of cloud provider OpSource in June 2011.

Dimension Data CEO Jere Brown said in an interview that OpSource, which he called a “jewel” of the the company's cloud business, allows it to leverage its IT product portfolios, technologies, and services in a cloud environment. “We think the combination of our experience, history, and our global footprint is going to be a great attraction for our customers,” he said.

Dimension Data, the $5 billion Johannesburg, South Africa-based systems integrator, is owned by Japanese telecommunications firm NTT, which adds telco and hosting services to Dimension Data’s cloud service.

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As a VAR500 company, Dimension Data’s move to cloud services marks a high-profile proof point for how solution providers can fare in the new and burgeoning cloud market.

“This announcement provides Dimension Data with an opportunity to combine traditional technology reseller capabilities with the next generation of cloud services,” said Jeffrey Kaplan, managing director of the consulting and analysis firm THINKstrategies. “It represents a new model.”

Dimension Data Cloud Services offers advisory and consulting services focused on IT optimization, data center consolidation and technology architecture; integration services for on-premise IT systems; and compute-as-a-service (CaaS) virtual servers and storage in both shared, or public, and dedicated, or private environments, the company said in a statement.

Its Public CaaS offering delivers computing resources as a service, while its Private CaaS makes available pre-determined, on-premise computing resources. In addition, its Hosted Private CaaS offers private services hosted in a Dimension Data date center.

Dimension Data is also offering Provider CaaS for service providers to deliver a branded cloud service that can be customized by the provider under its own brand and run in a Dimension Data or client data center.

These services are facilitated by Dimension Data’s Managed Cloud Platform, which brings cloud infrastructure comprised of servers, storage, virtualization, networking and operating system software. The platform is accessed with a Web-based user interface or a REST-based application interface (API).

To manage the services, Dimension Data Cloud Control governs system control and automation of cloud resource provisioning. It is based on OpSource’s cloud management system, and supports public and private cloud environments with a common management framework, the company said.

“Our approach has been about trying to reduce complexity in moving to the cloud, particularly for enterprises” Keao Caindec, Dimension Data’s chief marketing officer, said in an interview. “We have a single platform for both private and public clouds, we have technology that orchestrates the cloud, and we take on the deployment and operational management of the cloud, whether it’s public or private.”

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Service providers will be able to offer their own cloud services by partnering with Dimension Data and taking advantage of its cloud infrastructure and global reach, Caindec said.

“We can build a cloud offering for them, and they can put their brand on it,” he said. “We will work with them to integrate it into the environmemnt. If a service provider wants to build a public cloud for a client and they don’t have the capital to do it, we can help them.”

The new services should appeal to client businesses struggling to move to the cloud, Kaplan said.

“The majority of mid-sizes and large-scale enterprises are all trying to create a mix of hybrid environments,” he said. “They’ve invested in internal resources, invested in third party, hosted services and are trying to integrate this new layer of cloud services into the mix.

“OpSource adds a cloud services layer to Dimension Data’s traditional technology, reseller and integration services capabilities, and because OpSource, BlueFire (the Australia-based cloud provider the company purchased in December 2011) and NTT telco and hosting capabilities are also involved, that gives them a worldwide footprint that’s pretty impressive."

When Dimension Data acquired OpSource, Brown said the VAR was aiming to become a leader in cloud services. But the role for solution providers in the cloud market has remained in question.

However, Kaplan said Dimension Data’s is an indication that service providers can flourish in the cloud environment.

“There was hype that said the channel would be disintermediated by the cloud, the channel can continue to navigate the complexities of the cloud,” he said. “The channel model can survive in the cloud environment if two things are in place -- one, that they offer right set of cloud services, and two, they are agile in the way they sell, deliver and support these services because the cloud promises easier and more economic solutions that can be acquired more quickly and can accelerate their value.”