BitDepth#905 - October 01

Digicel introduces cloud and virtualization services to its range of services for its business customers.
Digicel moves to virtualise business
Matt Crawford and Corman Clifford demonstrate remote connectivity using Digicel’s cloud solutions at the Hilton. Photograph by Mark Lyndersay.

Last Thursday, Digicel’s business division launched a new Cloud Solutions portfolio of services for its business users.
The new collection of offerings bundles services from Citrix, a billion dollar desktop virtualisation and networked software provider who have had a presence in T&T for more than a decade, Microsoft who have made a major thrust into providing cloud solutions with its Azure platform, and Cisco, a key network hardware systems provider.

DigicelTT’s CEO John Delves said that the company has “a commitment to the best network possible,” and this new suite of products aims to leverage the bandwidth of its new 4G HSPA network which the company launched in early 2012.

The project is still very much in its earliest development stages, but, according to David Cummings, Digicel’s ICT Senior Business Development Executive, customers will use a single icon on supported devices to access the services they have signed up for.

To be clear, all of the services that Digicel is offering here have existed previously and could be contracted independently. Cloud based solutions are now an aggressive market space and every major software and services provider is offering tools that can be accessed using a web browser.

The success of this Digicel branded business service will depend on three factors, ease of use, reliability and speed. If the telecommunications provider can nail this critical triumvirate, it will command a key position in the space.
Digicel tasked Matt Crawford and Corman Clifford with demonstrating the services and the affable pair did a good job of demonstrating connectivity between mobile devices on multiple platforms making a connection to computer systems and accessing their software.

“Mobility is dominating CEO mindshare,” Crawford said in introducing the new product.
To their credit, they took some mildly embarrassing but entirely honest instances of datastream buffering in their stride, covering the dark screens desperately loading data with cheerful patter.
What was on show was pretty familiar to anyone who has ever used a virtual network connection (VNC) to perform actions on a remote screen.

Digicel’s Desktop Management tool will bring deeper capabilities for securing data on such networks, managing software versions and will allow companies to exercise more control over business data that’s accessed using the variety of devices that users insisting on BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) computing solutions to the table.
The new product, Matt Crawford insisted, offers “the freedom that people want with the security that IT demands.”

At the core of any integrated cloud solution is data backup and access, which Digicel will be providing out of five datacentres that it’s established in four countries in the region, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago (2), Panama and Grenada.
At launch, the company is offering mail service using Microsoft Exchange, mobile device management, the Microsoft Office online suite and cloud based backup. The company projects cost reductions of up to 51 per cent over traditional backroom solutions.

The sales pitch for the new products sound like both a dream for companies and a nightmare for the people who will actually be expected do all the work these systems enable.
Companies can move their expenditure from a capital expense to a monthly operating expense, scaling up or down as demand changes. Executives can work anywhere with access to their desktop systems from smartphones and tablets, and the support model moves from a help desk to an on demand, self service system.

Andrew Hoey, Digicel’s Sales Director said that his four years working in the T&T market had given him a “unique insight into the pinch points of local business.”
“We are no longer just a mobile provider,” he promised the room full of ICT professionals at the Hilton last week, “we are now a full-service provider.”

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