Services giant Capgemini has long had skin in the Software as a Service (SaaS) sector with strong alliances with the likes of Salesforce.com and Google.
But now the firm is spinning an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and hybrid cloud orchestration pitch built around Microsoft.
At the core of the SkySight offering is Microsoft software, including Windows Server 2012, System Center 2012 and Windows Azure.
Bundle all that up with billing, service management, dashboards and governance tools integrated by Capgemini, et voila!
According to Capgemini's announcement:
SkySight will implement hybrid cloud environments using core Microsoft cloud technologies including Windows Server 2012, System Center 2012 and Windows Azure. It will include a portfolio of cloud-based application and infrastructure services through the SkySight Enterprise Applications Store.
This portfolio will include Microsoft SharePoint, messaging, collaboration, Microsoft Lync, testing platforms, high performance computing platforms, compute capacity, and storage capacity.
That said, this is a non-exclusive partnership, so Capgemini could take its Cloud Orchestration Services and skills and apply them to any of the other leading IaaS platforms, such as VMware or OpenStack clouds.
Paul Hermelin, Chairman and CEO of Capgemini Group, positions the new push as:
“SkySight is the culmination of our strong global strategic alliance with Microsoft. We know our clients are investing significantly in digital technologies to achieve lower-cost business services, capable of supporting rapid change and innovative development.
"They are telling us that they are being held back by a lack of maturity in the tools and services available to integrate and manage this expanding range of new assets."
"By using SkySight, Capgemini Group’s clients will benefit from user-friendly access to this broad portfolio of services that can be rapidly deployed in hours rather than months, where and when needed, regardless of capacity model (e.g. public/hybrid/private). With SkySight, organisations can adopt these next generation services at their own pace alongside legacy services that can be run in parallel."
Perhaps particularly conscious of data sovereignty concerns as a European company, Capgemini's playing up the the fact that SkySight implementations can be hosted within its own data centers, which the firm argues helps to address data sovereignty concerns of its clients. (And Brussels!) Clients own data centers can play host as well.
Businesses in the UK, France and the Netherlands will be able to sign up for Skysight by the end of September, using it to manage private, hybrid or public cloud workloads running on their own infrastructure or in local Capgemini data centers. Customers in the US will initially be offered a public cloud version of the service.
The SkySight initiative is the latest manifestation of the firm's overarching “Simply. Business Cloud” mantra. The firm sees the cloud as a "ubiquitous design principle underpinning its entire end-to-end portfolio of solutions and services".
When you dive deep into the mechanics of what makes SkySight work, you appreciate the impressive complexities of bridging public and private cloud deployments and being able to seamlessly switch between them, satisfying possible local requirements around data sovereignty and privacy, linking services together of potentially many different solution vendors and creating one, integrated dashboard that provides all the cloud services oversight managers could possibly need from different perspectives.
He adds that for most clients the important thing will be the catalogue of Microsoft offerings:
Having access to a rich, always growing and renewing store of IT application services is what will make business move and change. It’s about getting inspired by the art of the possible, finally using information technology again to create business value without getting sucked in by the phenomenal complexities of safely, reliably and quickly delivering it.
It's a healthy sign of Capgemini's cloud thinking becoming more cohesive, reckons Ovum's Ian Brown who argues that until now that strategy has been fragmented:
Although it has a strong Salesforce.com SI practice, other relationships seem to have been entered into on an almost ad hoc basis. SkySight does not change those relationship, but it nails Capgemini’s cloud strategy firmly to the mast of partnering with the leading cloud platform players rather than attempting to build its own cloud infrastructure. It will not be an IaaS platform provider.
While acknowledging that it is only one of Microsoft's outsourcing partners, Brown sees Cagemini benefiting from Microsoft’s investment in its platform, from Microsoft sales referrals and Microsoft’s marketing machine.
But the burden is now on Capgemini to prove that its Cloud Orchestration Service works as more than just a managed provisioning tool. Brown cautions:
Its lack of maturity as an infrastructure services provider compared with some of its competitors means it may also struggle to get onto infrastructure RFPs, especially in North America. Capgemini will roll the service out into its European data centers in the UK, France, and the Netherlands, but in North America it will only have Microsoft’s public cloud data centers.
Brown also notes that approximately 5% of Capgemini contracts are delivered as pure “as-a-service”, while 25–30% involve a “XaaS” discussion or component:
That’s a lower percentage than some of Capgemini’s more infrastructure-focused competitors, but not so surprising given its predominantly applications focus. And while cloud has to be a sourcing option available from all outsourcers, it is still far away from being the dominant sourcing option in multi-tower outsourcing deals.
It's a good move by Capgemini to extend its cloud strategy into a more far-reaching but also more coherent whole.
The firm enjoys a healthy Salesforce.com practice, but other cloud partnerships have been open criticisms of being more tactical than strategic.
The relationship with Microsoft provides the services firm with a landing point on one of the main cloud IaaS providers, but the non-exclusive nature of the deal leaves it open to work with the likes of Amazon or Salesforce.com in a similar way.
The fact that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was rolled out to promote the new venture perhaps indicates that this alliance carries weight inside Microsoft which after all doesn't need to look too far to find services partners.
As the systems integration old guard struggle to redefine their roles in a cloud-enabled world, Capgemini is making the right noises.
Now it just needs to back them up with results.