NTT Communications Reveals Revamped Enterprise Cloud

NTT Communications unveiled an entirely revamped version of its Enterprise Cloud on Tuesday in a push to win global enterprise customers with a diverse hybrid portfolio, vendor interoperability and advanced networking capabilities.

In making its play to expand its base of multinational business users, the telecommunications arm of Tokyo-based NTT Group adopted two of the most popular open-source technologies on the market: OpenStack for the infrastructure layer of its public cloud, and Cloud Foundry to deliver Platform-as-a-Service capabilities for agile software development.

The next-generation cloud offering was generally released Tuesday in NTT's native Japan, and will be rolled out in the U.S., Europe and other Asian markets later in the year, according to the company.

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NTT Enterprise Cloud, once virtualized exclusively by VMware, turned to OpenStack, prompted by the demand it sees from multinational clients looking for greater application portability, Hideki Kurihara, vice president of cloud services, explained in a news conference broadcast Tuesday morning.

"First and foremost, we leverage industry inventions as well as community inventions as well as our own inventions," Kurihara said.

What NTT particularly likes about OpenStack is that the open-source technology offers a framework by which the provider can help its customers embrace micro-services application architectures, he said.

OpenStack's APIs allow NTT to plug in proprietary solutions from vendors like VMware and Microsoft -- both virtualization options for its private cloud deployments -- and manage those complex environments using its independently developed tools.

Enterprise customers often deploy applications in the public cloud, Kurihara said, but then opt to return them to private cloud environments for various reasons.

"Having a portable application framework is really key to them," Kurihara said.

One component of NTT Enterprise Cloud -- more common for traditional use cases such as running CRM and ERP systems -- offers dedicated hosted environments, either as private clouds or bare-metal servers. Those single-tenant products form a foundation for further digital transformation in the cloud, according to a statement from the company.

The new multitenant cloud powered by OpenStack, with Cloud Foundry available for application development, is more apt for cloud-native workloads, such as Internet of Things, mobile, analytics and big data applications, according to Kurihara.

The dedicated and multitenant options can be connected and configured through software-defined networking capabilities. NTT is offering free networking between machines across the Enterprise Cloud platform, and giving customers the option of leveraging its extensive telecommunications infrastructure to connect to outside data centers.

Concurrent with the rollout of the redesigned cloud, the company also launched a console, Cloud Management Platform, to control NTT-hosted and on-premises environments, as well as third-party clouds, including Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

John Dinsdale, chief analyst at Synergy Research, told CRN that NTT is bucking a trend seen among U.S. telecoms of divesting from data centers by aggressively growing its colocation and cloud footprint, both organically and through acquisitions.

The Japanese provider's large number of geographically diverse computing facilities allow customers to choose a mix of colocation, managed hosting, private and public cloud solutions on a global scale -- an attribute that should appeal to multinational enterprises.

"Of all the major telcos that are active in cloud, NTT is making by far the most concerted and consistent effort to build a growing and sustainable cloud business," Dinsdale told CRN.

NTT can compete with AWS, Microsoft and Google for public Infrastructure-as-a-Service and PaaS services, Dinsdale said, "but that's not its sweet spot" and not the intent of the new products unveiled Tuesday.

The real focus is on multinational companies and large enterprises doing business in single countries, he said.

"This morning was about a more concerted effort to target them with private and hybrid infrastructure services," Dinsdale said.

While NTT is associated with the Asian market, the company is a significant player in North America.

NTT data centers occupy more than a million square feet of area in the U.S., which makes the U.S., by physical footprint, NTT's third-largest market. Two of the company's 14 cloud locations are in the U.S., Dinsdale said.

Last September, NTT launched its first channel program, NTT America Global Solutions Channel Partner Program, and opened up its portfolio of services to master agent partners.

Vince Bradley, CEO of Malibu, Calif.-based telecom master agent WTG, one of the inaugural NTT partners, told CRN the enhanced Enterprise Cloud arrives on the market at a time when CEOs are making strategic digital transformation initiatives a priority, and implementing those initiatives using cloud as the preferred platform.

WTG eagerly awaits the new-and-improved cloud platform's introduction to the U.S. later in the year, he said.

"This new cloud has everything our customers are looking for," Bradley told CRN. "A hybrid cloud that blends traditional and cloud-native [information and communications technology] with free connectivity and an all-in-one management portal.’

In a statement, NTT said it will continue to enhance Enterprise Cloud by leveraging software-defined technologies to unify clouds, data centers and networks. And the OpenStack-based micro-services architecture will enable NTT to incorporate technological advances that stem from open-source communities and partners.

NTT plans later down the road to introduce additional enterprise functionality, including SAP HANA, virtual private PaaS, and enhanced cloud management capabilities, according to the company.