European operator underlines plans to be more than just a telco, stresses it has no plans to ‘become an Accenture', and outlines its cloud services strategy.
Colt said on Wednesday that it is making good progress with its strategy to move beyond the traditional telco role and provide managed network and IT services to its 35,000 enterprise users in Europe.
But in spite of its intentions to move further down the IT value chain and offer hosted network, security and software services, the company stressed that it does not plan to provide fully outsourced services or offer the kinds of services typically provided by systems integrators today: "We are not pretending we are Accenture or IBM," said Adrian Saunders, managing director of Colt's managed services division.
Saunders added that Colt - which has now formally dropped "Telecom" from its brand name - is also not yet looking to "get into bed with an Accenture or McKinsey" but is interested in forming partnerships with companies such as EMC, Oracle and Microsoft.
"We may well start to do more work with systems integrators and consultants," said Saunders. "But our customers are not asking for that yet...unless they are already tactically involved with an SI."
According to Henri van der Vaeren, managing director of Colt's UK and southern European business, Colt is keen to stay neutral at present and not tie up with a company that might limit its competitive options.
Saunders commented that companies such as Oracle and Microsoft are happy to talk to Colt about partnership opportunities in the software-as-a-service market because they do not see the company as a threat: "They see us as specialists who are good at what we do," said Saunders. "We are very clearly not trying to become what they are."
In 2009 managed services accounted for 10% of Colt's revenue and the company views managed services and data as its fastest-growing business area. Saunders notes that Colt will still provide pure collocation services where required, but sees more value in its ability to tie together network and IT services in a managed offering.
The company also believes it has a competitive edge over other telcos that are pursuing the IT services route because it owns its entire network as well as 19 data centres in Europe.
Indeed the company has also just announced an extension of its network into Eastern Europe and has added six cities to its footprint: Warsaw, Krakow, Prague, Budapest, Bucharest, and Bratislava.
In the area of managed services, Colt plans to focus on enterprise "cloud" services such as software as a service, platform as a service and infrastructure as a service. Saunders noted that enterprises are looking for advice on how to transform their businesses, but are not about to virtualise their entire operation.
He said Colt's advice to enterprises is that they should start with new, standalone applications, and not with legacy applications that are used by a number of different areas of an enterprise's business such as SAP.
"The concept that everything will move to the cloud is interesting, but it's not relevant to our customers today," commented Saunders. "For example, financial services companies will not want to move their trading platforms outside their own buildings."
In the third quarter of this year Colt also plans to go to market in partnership with EMC and vmware to provide managed storage and back-up services.
Colt is also working with vmware and Oracle to integrate and streamline its OSS/BSS systems in order to provide a more efficient network management system. This system will also be available to customers to some degree to enable them to oversee and monitor their network services: "We want to be able to quaff our own champagne," commented Saunders.