Business Cloud News
Interoute's chief technical officer Matthew Finnie

Matthew Finnie, Interoute’s chief technical officer

Interoute, owner and operator of one of Europe’s largest cloud based services platforms on Wednesday announced that it has extended its offerings to include a dedicated cloud storage solution from NetApp, an American-based provider of integrated network storage. This means that NetApp Storage Virtual Machine customers will be able to tap into Interoute’s Virtual Data Centre comprising five virtual data centre zones in Amsterdam, Berlin, Geneva, London and Paris – all integrated into the heart of Interoute’s pan European cloud platform and connected by its high capacity fibre optic network.

The company began as a wholesale carrier, largely selling its connectivity services to telcos, but in 2004 decided to begin targeting enterprises. Speaking to Business Cloud News, Matthew Finnie, Chief Technical Officer at Interoute, says: “The vision was to build a physical platform and innovate services on top of that – basically the premise of cloud computing. 40 per cent of our business is wholesale, but enterprise is a big growth area for us – it’s roughly 60 per cent of the business at present.”

“Our latest innovation really builds on the virtual data centre concept we’ve built up. We’ve shown customers that we can enable a range of applications without having to compromise on the surety of where their data sits,” Finnie says. “For enterprises coming from a private cloud environment or legacy server environment, the VDC gives IT managers flexibility – and control over their switch, their firewall, their data set types, and it has links to the public cloud.”

It is serendipitous that the announcement follows news last week that Stonesoft, a leading provider of integrated network security solutions, has launched its Next Generation Firewall on the Interoute CloudStore, an application market catering to VDC customers. Private cloud is in many was focused on data security, and more specifically about giving enterprises complete control and transparency when it comes to their data. Given Interoute’s position in the market as the “carrier’s carrier” the company has a reasonable amount of experience with ensuring customer data is kept secure. “The firewall and networking linkages are so important – but it’s also important to offer choice. Interoute offers the choice between multiple firewall providers with the guarantee that data is secure and that you always know where it is,” Finnie says.

Our discussion on Interoute’s latest virtual private cloud offering quickly brought up the topic of fully-managed vs. self-managed infrastructure as a service, a distinction that’s increasingly difficult to maintain in practice given the seemingly infinite spread of preferences of IT managers when it comes to managing and supporting public and private cloud platforms

BCN recently had the opportunity to speak with Chris McKay, VP International at Orange Business Services, who mentioned something relevant to the discussion here – that while most companies appreciate the value of procuring a fully managed cloud infrastructure service, many ultimately move towards a self-managed offering, opting for data control and deeper capability management over ease of use and capability management outsourcing.

“The distinction between fully and self-managed infrastructure is very interesting to look at. The problem has traditionally been one of limitations because in the old days you had to buy physical servers and negotiate SLAs related to that environment specifically, but now that you don’t have those limitations the question has become much more interesting – what kind of support and flexibility in infrastructure management can you offer customers? Because they are all looking for different levels,” Finnie says.

As a result of increasing competition in the virtual private cloud space, service providers like Amazon and Interoute are also trying to leverage their role as brokers of integrated services through app-store type offerings like the Interoute Cloud Store. The shift in emphasis to brokerage and integration has begun to alter the vendor landscape in such a way as to level the playing field between heavyweight software giants like Microsoft and a range of much smaller vendors. Finnie points out that while systems integrators seem traditionally best-positioned for this kind of job (compliance, auditing, deep integration, etc.), Interoute is well-placed to leverage its role as a communications infrastructure provider, as well as the scale of its storage and compute capability through its VDCs on offer to enterprises, enabling the latter to make the move into the cloud without compromise.

“Take the cloud store – you’ll see over 100 vendors in there, some big and some most likely haven’t hear of, and the key thing is that traditionally, if you were to go through a systems integrator, your compromise was always going to be either a carrier or provider of network communications, and / or storage surveillance. We don’t force enterprises to compromise on those, and the company is well positioned to leverage the scale of its communications infrastructure, storage and compute facilities and package that into one manageable virtual private cloud solution,” Finnie says.

BCN recently had the opportunity to speak with Chris McKay, VP International at Orange Business Services, who mentioned something relevant to the discussion here – that while most companies appreciate the value of procuring a fully managed cloud infrastructure service, many ultimately move towards a self-managed offering, opting for data control and deeper capability management over ease of use and capability management outsourcing.

McKay’s observation speaks to an increasingly noticeable trend across a variety of sectors: IT departments are choosing hybrid and private clouds over exclusive public cloud adoption, due to some combination of the need for data security assurance and deeper control of cloud performance. A package that combines communications, storage and compute infrastructure may help satisfy the plethora of support and data security needs of IT departments and regulators without sacrificing scale, flexibility and computing ability. “Ultimately we believe that this is where the market is heading and we’re going to continue in this direction – it will be the players that can offer a large communications network in conjunction with the compute and storage capability at a competitive price point who will lead in this space. Everything is done more quickly and more securely that way,” Finnie says. With servers increasingly on the move out of the office and into the data centre, Finnie may be absolutely right.

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