Optus’ enterprise blueprint

Australia's second largest telco is hoping that leveraging its parent SingTel’s capability and experience will strengthen its enterprise portfolio, but will it be enough to tackle Telstra's dominance?

Optus Business has announced a series of initiatives for its enterprise and government customers that are well aligned with SingTel. This marks a change in the company’s direction following the recent restructuring of the group across pan-Asian lines, whereby Optus Business now is part of SingTel Group ICT, and could pave the way for more regional offerings.

Leveraging SingTel’s capability and experience will also help Optus Business to strengthen its enterprise portfolio in Australia and contribute to the cost-efficiency program that the company is currently going through. However, investment in the local delivery capacity is still necessary.

Forging enterprise SLAs a demanding prospect

The features that Optus Business has added to its enterprise cloud services include a new storage solution and more pricing and access options. It has also rebranded its portfolio as Optus PowerON, the same brand used by SingTel, and is including cloud consulting services from NCS, SingTel’s IT services company. These might sound like small changes, but they clearly illustrate SingTel’s intention to roll out a uniform regional cloud offer.

SingTel has a leader position in cloud computing in Singapore. It entered the market early and on multiple fronts, and has a significant number of customers and partnerships with many independent software vendors for developing applications. The challenge has always been to build on its momentum in the domestic market and turn it into pan-Asian success, and taking Optus on board will certainly help SingTel to build a regional proposition.

SingTel is not alone in its ambitions, and we expect it to face strong competition from other regional competitors with similar aims, as well as global service providers with aggressive cloud services plans and established relationships with multinational corporations.

Enterprises in the Asia-Pacific region are asking for combined technology solutions that can take advantage of fixed wireless networks and innovations in applications management, and they also need end-to-end SLAs for these. The trick for SingTel and Optus, and indeed any managed service provider in region, will be to combine telemetry solutions (M2M) and wireless broadband transmission with data collection and hosting and fixed international backhaul, and to provide end-user network monitoring across all of these services.

SingTel can use Optus’s valuable knowledge and experience in cloud computing and deeper relationships with vendors such as VMware to help build its own proposition in the Australian market. Joining forces can also contribute to Optus’s cost-efficiency program. Working together across the group is a more efficient way to roll out new services, but investments, especially in delivery capacity, will still be necessary to match competitors’ offerings. Telstra, for example, committed an $800 million investment over five years just to strengthen its cloud capabilities.

Leveraging SingTel’s managed mobility portfolio

Managed mobility is another area where Optus can benefit from working more closely with its parent company. SingTel recently launched a managed mobility portfolio that is matched in the region by only few global players. Its offer includes all the major elements of managed mobility, including device and expense management, and is generally delivered using a consulting approach.

Optus has already been assisting SingTel in providing in-country support to its MNC customers, and is now finally presenting its own solution, having announced a managed mobility offering that includes device management, security, and consulting services.

Although it is not yet clear to what degree these solutions will leverage SingTel’s experience and relationships with platform providers such as Juniper, the consulting services will be delivered through NCS: another example of the tighter alignment across the group.

But this closer alignment may create some overlaps; Optus also has its own IT services company, Alphawest, which supports mobility solutions. Optus Business will need to define and communicate clearly the role of each company to avoid any confusion for customers.

Claudio Castelli is a senior enterprise telecoms analyst with Ovum.