TECHNOLOGY SPECTATOR: Telstra's enterprise ambition
Telstra explores multiple channels to maintain its lead in the enterprise space while a steady share price is no reason to lose faith in Facebook.
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Telstra’s enterprise ambitions
Things are pretty busy at Telstra at the moment and while most of the focus falls on the telco’s moves to entrench its dominant position in the consumer market the company is also kicking goals in the enterprise space. The latest deal to highlight Telstra’s enterprise ambition is the $1.9 million cloud contract the telco has signed with tele-health company Healthways Australia. The three-year contract will see Healthways move its backend servers into Telstra's private cloud and lease its network capacity.
In addition to the tele-health deal, Telstra has also this month launched its in-network intelligent reporting service, dubbed Application Assured Networking (AAN). Both are signs that the telco is keen to explore multiple channels to leverage its scale in a post-NBN environment.
The opt-in service is a reporting tool designed to allow an organisation to produce reports on how networks are being used by applications which can be viewed via an easy-to-use secure online portal on the Telstra Business and Enterprise website. Customers that deploy the service will have their traffic routed through intelligent routers that will then identify the signatures of different traffic types and services by applications. The statistics are then reported through an online portal that allows organisations to not only keep an eye on their IT networks but also to keep track of application usage.
The appeal of AAN is easy to see because it provides IT executives the one thing they are desperately trying to hold on to: control. Control that has come under threat thanks to the consumerisation of IT and the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trends. Telstra customers can use AAN to control the quality of service of critical applications and, as some like to point out, pinpoint the slackers on its network.
However, Telstra’s director of IP and data, John Ieraci, says that the service isn’t geared to keep wayward employees in check but rather give IT managers a clear picture of their wide area network. He adds that the emphasis is on introducing more intelligent networking that creates more capacity as needed and enables CIOs and IT managers to prioritise what they consider to be business critical applications by looking at trends at an aggregate level. According to Ieraci, services like AAN could be the template for a business applications model that could set the tone for enterprises.
"We see an open marketplace for business applications emerging as the future model. What we are are starting to see is the advent of market places for business applications and enterprises of the future will have to use a lot more applications than they use now,” Ieraci says.
"Proliferation of application will be a key challenge for CIOs and AAN is really designed to address that trend rather than monitoring long term staff behaviour.”
The AAN service is part of the Network Application Services division that has been highlighted by Telstra chief executive David Thodey as one of the telco’s most strategic growth opportunities and Ieraci says that the Telstra approach is to deliver as many value additions it can provide from its core network as opposed to on top of it.
According to Ieraci, the plan is to tie as many capabilities as it can into the core network so that customers can buy networking and unified communications services from the cloud in a virtualised way. It’s a worthy ambition and getting the combination right could provide Telstra a significant boost and take an unassailable lead in the enterprise space. Telstra has so far signed nine organisations to the service but is hoping to add more as the second phase of the launch scheduled for later this year. Alcatel-Lucent and Infovista partnered with Telstra in the first phase while Juniper and Cisco are set to play a big role in phase two.
Facebook flops but it’s all about keeping the faith
Facebook’s mega IPO has now come and gone and it looks like that the social network just couldn’t live up to the hype. To be fair, the company couldn’t have picked up a worse time for a float given the doom and gloom emanating out of Europe and the trading glitch on the Nasdaq didn’t help either. So did Mark Zuckerberg get it wrong? Not really, because the Facebook founder and those who put money into the network early have got exactly what they wanted: A big pay day.
One such local investor is the Queensland Investment Corporation which has reportedly done quite well out of the IPO and is keen to dump its entire stake as quickly as it can. QIC, which manages more than $60 billion in assets, has told The Australian Financial Review that while their journey with Facebook has been a good one it will probably "come to an end’ as soon as Facebook shares become liquid. It’s a strategy that’s probably being considered by a number of institutional investors. We will get a better picture of what retail investors think of Facebook’s long term prospects as the week pans out. At this point so much ink has been spilt on either extolling the virtues of the network or denigrating its prospects that most of us have a pretty good idea of what’s at stake. The one thing to keep in mind is that we are in uncharted waters. Assigning fair value to the company’s 900 million users is not an easy task and all boils down to how much faith investors have in Zuckerberg successfully translating that reach into revenue.
Speaking of Zuckerberg, the 28-year old billionaire has tied the knot a day after the IPO, so if he is worried he is certainly not showing any signs of it. The trick for Zuckerberg and his team will be to do enough to convince investors that it has the tools in the shed to break into new markets and one obvious avenue for that will be acquisitions. Instagram has been Facebook’s biggest acquisition and the company also acquired Lightbox on the eve of the IPO. The move means that two of the biggest mobile photography groups on the web are now under the Facebook banner. Now that’s definitely worth something.
InMobi’s Mi9 deal, WorkVentures’ noble cause
Meanwhile, mobile ad network InMobi has announced a partnership with the Microsoft and Nine Entertainment joint venture Mi9, with the two-year partnership to see InMobi represent selected mobile advertising sales for ninemsn. It will also offer production capabilities that help brands reach out to consumers across mobile devices.
"Mi9 will continue to offer cross platform sales and branded integration opportunities, whilst InMobi’s rich media capabilities mean we can increase our offering to creative agencies and brands – allowing them to focus on imaginative and intelligent creative executions,” Richard McLaren, chief data and technology officer, Mi9 said.
Elsewhere, not-for-profit organisation WorkVentures has scored a handy deal with the Department of Human Services and it’s all for a good cause. The partnership will see the department provide 800 of its discarded laptops to WorkVentures, which will then refurbish them, load them up with Microsoft software and sell them to Centrelink concession card holders, low-income families, schools and not-for-profit organisations.
The units are sold at a low cost – with desktops at $299 and laptops at $319 respectively – and also includes free delivery, warranty and support. WorkVentures has been in the business of spreading technology to those in the society that need it the most for the last 33 years and WorkVentures chief executive Arsenio C. Alegre said the new contract with the DHS was a vote of confidence in the program. Here’s hoping that the contract opens the door to similar acts of generosity from other government departments.