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Orange Business Services: Powering cloud with Flexible Engine

Nov 23, 2017 By Gary Maidment

Designed to migrate customers’ applications to cloud, Flexible Engine is Orange Business Services’ new cloud solution based on OpenStack. Philippe Laplane, CEO of Orange Business Services’ international cloud division, talks about the challenges and strategies involved in cloud evolution, and how Orange Business Services and Huawei are continuing their long-term partnership to enable cloud migration.

WinWin: What major challenges do you think enterprises face when it comes to digital transformation?

Philippe Laplane: I think there are three main challenges for enterprises. The first is how to manage legacy IT and find resources and CAPEX to invest in new business applications. The second is how to transform their IT infrastructure to ensure they have the skills to develop the applications of tomorrow. And the third challenge, which isn’t the easiest one, is people. How do enterprises ensure that their people will evolve from managing legacy IT infrastructure to cloud-based technology such as IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS? 

WinWin: Can you give an outline of Orange Business Services' global cloud strategy?

Laplane: Our global cloud strategy is much like the Huawei slogan for Huawei Eco-Connect Europe 2017, "Go digital, Go Cloud,” as cloud is the main catalyst in the transformation of our core business and network activities. Thanks to this transformation experience, we have the expertise to help customers define their journey to the cloud, which needs a lot of support and the professional services to accompany them. The second aspect of our strategy is to help customers manage their IT on the cloud. Indeed, we’re a managed services company, not just an infrastructure company. Our third strategy is to develop our own infrastructures for our customers. This could be both public cloud and private cloud infrastructure to answer hybridization needs. 

WinWin: Can you tell us how Flexible Engine fits into your overall strategy?

Laplane: Flexible Engine is our new product for public cloud services, and we also own other platforms based on other technologies. To address our customers’ bi-modal IT challenges, we needed to build a worldwide public cloud infrastructure based on new standards like OpenStack. Flexible Engine will be deployed in key geographical areas. Currently, Flexible Engine is hosted in two data centers in Paris and two in Singapore. In 2018, we’ll launch Flexible Engine in data centers in Netherlands and the USA. So, it’s very important for us to create new solutions, and provide a worldwide, unique, and consistent service for our customers. 

WinWin: In terms of partnering with Huawei, what do you expect? What will Orange and Huawei respectively bring to the table?

Laplane: Huawei has been our major partner for many years. And two years ago, we thought about how to do something very specific in the cloud computing area with Huawei. I think we’re expecting three main things: First, we want Huawei to be our technological partner in the cloud computing domain. We’re relying on their R&D to integrate the best software and hardware on which to provide public cloud services. Second, we need Huawei to inject value on a regular basis ─ every month, every quarter. We need new features from Huawei to enrich our Flexible Engine product. And we need the right discussion between Orange Business Services and Huawei to define the new features that the market and our customers need. Third, we can expect Huawei to build a common ecosystem with us. IaaS is not the only thing we need to provide our customers – we also want to provide a full set of professional and managed services. If we can bring together our partners, including IT partners and solutions, we can create an ecosystem that will add value for our customers, we will have created a winning partnership. 

WinWin: What kind of approach should bigger companies with legacy IT infrastructure be thinking about in the cloud and transformation contexts? 

Laplane: Orange Business Services has a substantial market share with the big MNCs in the areas of network, telephony, and security, so it’s a segment we know very well. These companies need a key partner to accompany them on this journey to the cloud. That won’t be achieved overnight and there will be several steps. First of all, they need us to help them build this journey to the cloud. They need us to help them answer questions such as: What do I need to migrate to the cloud? What type of applications? How do I manage the link between legacy networks and new applications on the cloud? 

So, we’d provide support and professional services to help them answer these questions. The second important point is that these big companies have complex IT systems with multiple applications. So, once they’ve decided what type of applications they want to move to the cloud, Orange Business Services will help define the best ways to, for example, evolve, migrate, build, or rewrite. In all these cases, we help them define the best solution. The third point is we would help them create success in the first trial, first migration, or first experiment. My experience with these big customers is that you need to first tackle simple cases, such as moving their websites to the cloud or certain collaborative applications, and then you can build the trust. 

Another example would be to create a private cloud before hybridizing it to the public cloud solutions. And this is what’s exciting with these big customers: You need to address all these complexities with different solutions. 

Thank to our end-to-end expertise in professional services and outsourcing the right cloud infrastructures, Orange Business Services is the best partner to assist them on this journey.

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