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Cogeco’s cloud caper

Cogeco’s cloud caper 

Known primarily as a provider of television and cable services, Cogeco has been on cloud nine of late, and for a good reason. The company recently announced the launch of its new enhanced Public Cloud Virtual Data Centre (VDC) service and self-service customer portal.

Designed to be compliant with several virtualized environments, including Microsoft Hyper-V and VMWare’s vSphere, the Public Cloud IaaS platform’s hosting is exclusive to Canadian data centres.

The decision to add cloud-based data services to their arsenal of telecom offerings was a strategic one for Cogeco, based on demand from their customers.

“With Cogeco Data Services, a lot of our strategy and roadmap is developed by talking to our customers, so it’s very customer influenced,” says Susan Verma, director of product development for Cogeco Data Services. “What we started to see was all the technology shifts in our industry or the macro factors that are taking place.”

Before launching the new service, Cogeco kept a careful watch on the activity within the telecom industry. That it was in a constant state of evolution was a key factor in the creation of this new platform for enterprises.

“There are so many things that are evolving and changing right now, whether it’s socially connected, Generation X, electronics or the Internet of Things,” Verma says.

“All of those things started to change the nature of telecom and the fusion between telecom and IT,” continues Verma. “As it became more apparent, we started to receive insights from our customers about challenges that they were having and experiences that they wanted to move towards. As a result of that, we put together an approach in terms of how we could resolve these (issues).”

It’s no secret that many businesses want to play for Team Cloud these days. The number of companies weaving various forms of cloud technology into their daily practices is on a constant upward trend. As Verma explains, the reason for this is that the cloud offers the opportunity to drive their businesses and gain the upper hand over their competitors.

“What we see from our customers is that it’s a fundamentally business-driven strategy. Whether it’s a C-level executive, director or manager, they’re trying to drive a business strategy, and that could entail many different things,” she says. “They could be trying to lower their costs, increase revenue, or build agility and innovation to differentiate their service offerings.”

One direct result of these changes is the evolution of the IT department. Previously, IT was viewed as an essential service that ensured the smooth operation of internal networks and the devices connected to them. But when the cloud is integrated into the equation, the role of IT expands accordingly.

“In our customers’ environments, there’s a shift that’s happening between IT being viewed as a call centre, and IT now becoming a strategic part of the business in helping it to accelerate, making smarter, faster, cheaper decisions,” says Verma.

“As a result of that, IT wants to get off the day-to-day management of servers, operating systems and traditional productivity workloads and outsource that to a partner while they manage the core strategic initiatives,” she adds. “The cloud provides them with additional business economic factors. It give them speed, agility, dev-and-test environments and a more predictable way to plan for the future during times of uncertainty.”

The Public Cloud IaaS platform provides businesses with several benefits. Rather than acting strictly as a vendor, Cogeco focuses on building strong relationships with their customer base by acting as a partner. It also gives enterprises the flexibility to create a fully customized cloud experience based on their individual needs.

As an added convenience, business customers can also add the data services to their existing Cogeco plan.

“In terms of engaging with us, it’s really quite straightforward,” says Verma. “We work through building a solution for the customer, and then we on-board them to the portal, set them up with their cloud environment, provide hands-on training, and get the fully up to speed and ready to go. We can also put it all on a single invoice for them.”

Looking ahead, Cogeco plans to expand their data services to provide coverage within the Montreal market, and a new data centre will open in that city at the end of April to assist with that. The company is also exploring the prospect of providing their customers with more options for automation and orchestration.

“Because we’re also a network provider and we offer a good model for connectivity, this is very important when a customer subscribes to the cloud because it determines how they connect to their infrastructure and their services, says Verma.

“What we will be looking at doing is building in automation and orchestration through new technologies like SDN and NFV at the network layer so that (the customers) have a fully automated suite of connectivity and cloud services.”

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