CRN’s Justin Warren recently interviewed GCOMM’s Matt Thompson and Craig Deutsher about the rise of white-label clouds in Australia.
Back in 2001, there were no commercial data centres on the Gold Coast, so national telecommunications provider GCOMM decided to build one. GCOMM saw a substantial market opportunity in what was then its home base and decided to invest.
“We invested a lot in that infrastructure, building out the environment, and putting our network operations centre (NOC) and IT team upstairs,” says director of business development Matthew Thompson. “The facility also meant carriers could terminate services locally on the Gold Coast.”
The investment worked well for GCOMM, which is no longer a regional player, but operates throughout Australia. However, the competitive landscape today is very different to that of 2001. It’s unlikely that GCOMM would decide to build its own facility today.
As global providers such as Equinix have entered the Australian market and built substantial amounts of data centre capacity, the Gold Coast facility has become more of a niche data centre. “There are a lot of ongoing capital costs associated with a data centre for upgrades and maintenance,” says Thompson. “The reinvestment into data centres is significant.”
Instead of investing in its own network of data centres, GCOMM chose to interconnect into facilities operated by dedicated data centre providers. “We put a lot of infrastructure into the major data centres of Equinix, NextDC and so on, and we use those for our core network,” says technical director Craig Deutsher.
Today, the GCOMM network connects into 10 facilities across Australia. “It allows us to focus on being a national provider of connectivity,” says Deutsher, “and means we can connect into major compute environments like Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure.”
Partnering means GCOMM can take advantage of a range of services provided by other suppliers to provide options for its own customers. “It’s too expensive for us to invest in building all of those other services ourselves,” says Thompson. “Using partners enables us to concentrate on what we do, which is IT managed services, support and migration to the cloud.”
While GCOMM would probably not consider building a brand new data centre of its own today, the fact that they have one does provide certain advantages. “It gives our customers choice,” says Deutsher. “A customer may not want to go into one of the major data centres for some of their workloads. We can help them locate services in the right data centre for their needs, and connect them together with our network.”
“It gives us a lot of control and flexibility over the types of services that we can provide to customers,” he says. “A core part of our values as a service provider is managing relationships with suppliers on behalf of our customers.”
It’s this relationship management that provides the core of any managed service provider. It relieves the customer of the burden of becoming an expert in all of the underlying services, much like how using an accountant relieves you of the burden of knowing the intricacies of Australian tax law.
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