ALE & OVHcloud seek to build the European cloud ecosystem in Asia

The OVHcloud data center in Sydney. Image courtesy of OVHcloud.

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE) is a spin-off company of the former Alcatel-Lucent group. In 2014, the company engineered the Alcatel-Lucent group’s digital transformation — in the process, the latter became a major cloud telecom player. To do this, ALE used OVHcloud’s solutions. Since then, the company has continued to work with a network of distributors and business partners (such as Orange Business Services, Telefonica and Dimension Data) across the globe.

ALE provides companies (including distributors and partners) with communication and networking services. In its hundredth year, ALE now has 3,000 employees and 900,000 global customers around the world, whose telecoms fleet represents more than 40 million landlines.

To develop a comprehensive communications solution, ALE needed to build a bridge between all brands of existing SIP PBX systems (including competitor brands), the legacy PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network), mobile phones, and any connected, compatible WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) devices. The open platform — called Rainbow — would need to offer its users management and support through APIs and SDKs, and systems equipped with artificial intelligence engines.

To provide a scalable communication platform, ALE opted for the hybrid cloud approach, which enables both UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) and CPaaS (Communications Platform as a Service), so that third parties can build and resell their own applications through Rainbow.

Today, the company utilises the full range of OVHcloud solutions, ranging from bare-metal servers to virtual machines. Rainbow uses almost all of OVHcloud’s data centres to cater to a global customer base. The solution is powered by more than 200 servers across global data centers that are interconnected via the OVHcloud vRack private network.

OVHcloud launched its APAC public cloud data services in 2019, and since then, both ALE and OVHcloud are looking to expand their footprint in the region. We talk to Grégoire Thomas, Head of Cloud and Communication Market Development, APAC at ALE and Lionel Legros, GM for OVHcloud APAC on their perspectives on GDPR compliance, the Rainbow platform, and what it means to build an ecosystem that does not originate from the US or China.

How has the GDPR compliance requirement changed your business model?

At OVHcloud, GDPR compliance has been part of our values from the beginning so it did not change our business model. We are a member of CISPE (Cloud Infrastructure Services Providers in Europe) which mandates a strong Code of Conduct for data protection amongst others, and our VP for Strategic Development and Public Affairs, Alban Schmutz is on the Board of Directors of CISPE. The GDPR compliance requirement has in fact, created new business opportunities for us. Regional SaaS and PaaS vendors in APAC are looking to be GDPR compliant and are partnering with OVHcloud to assist them in their go-to-market strategies in Europe. There is the impact of GDPR compliancy on European companies in APAC as well and OVHcloud is also able to assist these international companies to target APAC market.

At Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, our key values include high standards for security and data protection. GDPR compliance was anticipated and therefore did not change our business model. We are a global player based in France with our solutions hosted by OVHcloud, our hosting partner that always integrates the latest data protection trends and policies. Our XaaS-based business model, global cloud strategy and vertical approach were defined before GDPR, enabling us to be compliant from day one.

How has OVHcloud helped Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise especially with its Asian business?

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise and OVHcloud partnered back in 2015 when OVHcloud had data centres in France and Canada. Both companies were working to become global cloud actors just as the need to respond to the growing demands for cloud infrastructure was rising. In December 2016, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise became one of OVHcloud’s very first alpha customers for its APAC data centres, located in Singapore and then later in Sydney last year. Benjamin Zores, Director of Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise Cloud infrastructure, and his team are continuously working with OVHcloud to grow and improve our worldwide infrastructure. It has been key for Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise and OVHcloud to provide customers with optimal flexibility, a local presence that maximises their user experience, and to ensure that their data is securely stored where they want it to be.

What sort of opportunities do OVHcloud and Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise see in Asia’s enterprises moving forward? 

The Asian market is very fragmented with a lot of diversity. For Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, our large presence in the region raises the possibility of addressing each market individually. Our infrastructure in numerous countries, including Australia, India, Japan, Singapore and South Korea, makes us very relevant. Our regional UCaaS and CPaaS solutions numbers have grown in triple digits over the past year and riding on very positive momentum. We see large demand in every segment, especially in Education, Government, Healthcare and Hospitality and this is where OVHcloud comes in with its infrastructure support.

How has the take-up of the Rainbow platform by Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise been in recent months? Did the three months of free service attract strong interest? 

Yes. There has been a huge interest and need for the free licenses, which continued even after the free period ended. We raised the number of Rainbow users by almost 500%. Then, over 50% of the newly acquired users extended their paid licenses after the trial, which shows the trust our customers have in our solutions.

The IaaS market is quite crowded, with the big 3 plus Alibaba being major players in Asia. What does OVHcloud offer (especially from the European perspective) that makes it stand out in this space?

OVHcloud is one of the biggest, non-USA or China-based, Iaas players, which means a lot from a European perspective. This allows us and our customers not to be associated, or subject to, other governmental authorities and laws such as the USA Patriot Act.

From a technical standpoint, OVHcloud remains one of the very few IaaS providers to offer a Private Cloud Bare Metal solution, which ensures optimal performance and security, at a cost which is actually lower than all of its competitors’ public cloud offers. Also, OVHcloud’s free-of-charge public ingress/egress Internet bandwidth policy is a radical game changer when speaking about the volumes that Audio/Video communications can generate.

What is the future of the cloud and connectivity, especially in the post-pandemic era?

Cloud will continue to grow at an even faster pace. The pandemic forced many organisations into remote work, and this helped them keep business operations running despite their misgivings that remote work cannot replace on-site work. Now that a new normal has been established, be it by choice or by force, it has opened many new possibilities. Apart from lowering office footprint, having an ecological impact due to a lower need for on-site meetings and less operational cost, we can also expect less work-related stress, more productivity and a general rise in happiness and work-life balance. All the above has the potential to positively impact businesses.

We already see the new “way of working” impacting verticals we hadn’t foreseen adapting to change so quickly, like Government, Education and Healthcare. Instead of shutting down, governments embraced technological advances and digitised many or most of their services to stay close to their citizens. What has been a slow and arduous process over almost a decade changed in mere weeks and months.

Educational institutions have employed remote learning quickly, albeit without a unified strategy. With new waves of lockdowns either underway or about to start, educators are now coordinating efforts more precisely with a clearer vision to support them.

Healthcare was probably the vertical most strained in 2020 but it also made the biggest advancements. With OVHcloud, we are compliant with the highest data privacy requirements which gives us an additional edge in helping the healthcare sector to continue its rapid digitisation and adopt new technologies.

From remote examinations to technology-enhanced decision-making, or hot-spot warning apps for the general population, we saw many life-saving breakthroughs happen overnight.