Virtustream has burst into the Asia-Pacific with new data centres in Sydney, Canberra and Japan. Debra Hamilton reports on the company’s ambitious plans.
Enterprise-class cloud platform and cloud services provider Virtustream is leveraging its position as part of the Dell/EMC family to fuel some well-calculated but rapid-fire expansion of its ability to safely and securely deliver complex, mission-critical applications in the cloud into the Asia-Pacific.
With Australian data centres in both Sydney and Canberra now running customer data, Japan will be a fast-follow, as operations in both Tokyo and Osaka are scheduled to begin as early as next week. The expansion means that Virtustream is uniquely positioned to meet the needs of enterprises, service providers and governments in the region seeking to migrate critical business applications to the cloud. SAP customers are prime examples.
Describing pent-up demand in the region, Simon Walsh, COO, Virtustream said, “Some of the biggest SAP users are headquartered in Asia. So when we look at the economic environment of Japan and Australia and New Zealand, we see a number of big companies, we see a lot of significant SAP investment from those companies in SAP technology. We have a significant number of companies suggesting they intend to move to technology such as HANA or they intend to move to things like S/4 or they have big requirements for BW.”
“The two data centres in Sydney and Canberra are very strategically important for us, in that they enable us to expand and serve the federal government,” said John Kaleski, ANZ sales director, Virtustream, adding, “Our expansion into the region is going extremely well so far. We have a unique story to tell and it is being received very well.”
Expansion in this part of the world was a natural move for the company that describes itself as being purpose-built for SAP, rather than simply accommodating SAP. Virtustream can support the technology requirements of mission-critical SAP architectures along with other requirements such as performance, compliance, security, data sovereignty and disaster recovery that will enable these Asia-Pacific giants to move to the cloud.
“We are prepared to tackle the most challenging digital transformation projects for our customers in Asia-Pacific,” said Walsh. “Our local partnerships, combined with the strength of our cloud platform, deep expertise in the enterprise cloud space and relationship with Dell Technologies will provide businesses in the region with an unprecedented opportunity to utilise the cloud to rapidly transform and scale their businesses.”
Virtustream’s partnership with Dell EMC is a critical element in its formula for success as it expands in the Asia-Pacific region.
“The Dell EMC family enables us to leverage their relationships across all industry verticals. The Dell EMC market share and strong long-term relationships provide us with a huge entry into the market,” said Kaleski.
It’s a matter of trust and experience. “A lot of the trust comes from existing customers. New clients or prospects talk to our existing clients and they say could you tell us about your experience,” he said. And they do.
“A large proportion of customers are evaluating whether they should be embracing HANA systems. We have undertaken over 800 HANA migrations. This means that we are able to help our customers accelerate to HANA platforms and therefore take advantage of their investments in SAP licences and tooling,” Kaleski said. “This is one area where we are materially advancing our customers’ progress with HANA. Our cloud proposition is based on some patented technology that we own called micro-VM and this enables us to run SAP in the cloud and only charge customers for the capacity they are using when they are actually using it.
“We have chosen to put our public cloud for Japan in data centres owned by NTT Communication. We did an evaluation of the Japanese data centre footprint marketplace and determined that the best option for us were NTT data centres. I do know that NTT Communications is launching more data centres.”
Walsh said the expansion to Asia-Pacific did not pose unexpected challenges.
“We had to do a thorough evaluation of things like power, resilience, and data centre geographies. In Japan we did a very specific test around earthquake readiness just to make sure there was an environment that could sustain it, hence why we ended up picking NTT Communication, just because the engineering build of their physical buildings was superb.”
“We always get asked about competition and I have to say that competitors are varied. A lot of the time we compete against the classic outsourcers and then occasionally someone will say the other bidder is AWS, but I don’t really consider AWS as a direct competitor because the architecture of what we do is different,” Walsh said.
“It’s a significant market that we’re pursuing. Increasingly there is a customer appetite and a shift to look at business critical systems and to move those systems across to a cloud environment. Most of the time to move these applications you need to undertake some sizing and some organisational readiness. That’s the experience we have – onboarding these systems is a key ask, so it’s important to make sure that you’ve got SAP knowledge, SAP sizing experience and experience of how to transition from perhaps a DP2 environment onto HANA or an Oracle environment onto HANA or a Sybase environment to HANA. You need to have those clear capabilities from the professional services and project management point of view.”
Virtustream does not provide estimates of growth in employment, but Walsh said, “We’re adding net new resources in Australia/New Zealand and Japan. I can’t give you the exact numbers, but the progress is encouraging.”
Further expansion is also in the offing, often driven by the data sovereignty laws of different countries.
“We have geographic expansion plans – we continue to explore areas such as Canada, India and the Middle East, but we have not yet taken any decisions on those geographies. We don’t have anything in India yet. We don’t know yet if we will proceed into Canada in 2017 or if it will be part of a longer term expansion plan.
While the company is moving quickly, it is certainly thinking strategically about where to go from here, Walsh said.
“Obviously we chose Japan and Australia/New Zealand because we observed that the market is ready for our value proposition. So we started out with Asia expansion. That gives us all three theatres: Americas, EU and APJ. There is a lot of interest and enthusiasm in the Virtustream value proposition as a consequence of the uniqueness of what we do. We’re excited about our ability to support business critical systems in the public cloud.”