Using BT Cloud Connect customers of BT will be able to rely on dedicated connections to Salesforce from February. The service will be available initially in the US and Europe and will be subsequently connected to the rest of the BT network. For customers this will mean that their use of Salesforce will no longer be routed via the internet delivering predictable performance including latency.
The announcement that BT made did not specify which Salesforce data centres that BT would be connecting to directly. In Europe it seems reasonable to assume that the connection will be to Salesforce London data centre. For the US and other countries it is a case of waiting for BT to make further announcements.
This is an important step forward on the BT vision of ‘Cloud of Clouds,’ but they are not the first to deliver such connectivity. Rival companies such Tata connected Salesforce to IZO in July last year while Verizon (SCI) and AT&T (Netbond) connected their networks to Salesforce in 2014. One can argue that BT are slow to market with this connection but it is more likely that they did not have enough customers to warrant making the connection.
It will be interesting to see whether BT extend their connections to other SaaS application providers in 2016. While it may be premature to do so for some of the software companies, in connecting to companies like NetSuite or Workday who have recently opened data centres in Europe they may be able to deliver a competitive advantage rather than playing catch up.
The premise of BT ‘Cloud of Clouds’ is to allow its larger customers to connect to cloud services through a single global network provided by BT. The current global network connects to more than 200 data centres including 48 owned and operated by BT. Companies using the network for all their requirements can be more certain that their data is transmitted securely and quickly ensuring that their end user experience is consistent. With the migration to cloud based SaaS solutions IT departments are less able to control internet performance than that on their WAN and BT’s connection to Salesforce is one way in which they can gain back a measure of control.
Keith Langridge, vice president, network services at BT Global Services, commented: “Organisations look to the cloud to help them manage and access the vast amounts of valuable data they hold, including the crucial customer data at the core of their business. Our vision for a ‘Cloud of Clouds’ makes it easier for organisations to embrace the cloud by providing direct, secure and high performance connectivity to the applications hosted in the cloud. Salesforce is an organisation born of the cloud – a true pioneer of the technology – so this is an important milestone in the delivery of our vision.”
That Salesforce has been connecting their solutions to each of the major telecommunications companies over the last few years is good news for its customers especially as it seeks to enhance its capabilities in the CRM world. It is also worth noting that BT customers who use applications from the AppExchange that are also hosted inside the Salesforce data centres will also benefit. Companies like FinancialForce.com and Rootstock will also benefit from more reliable connections to their customers and more importantly potential customers in the US and Europe initially.
Andrew Lawson, managing director of Salesforce in the United Kingdom and Ireland, said: “Companies are transforming the way they connect with customers, partners and employees to thrive in today’s connected world. BT is accelerating this shift for its customers with the addition of Salesforce to its ‘Cloud of Clouds’ vision.”
BT Cloud Connect grows
BT Cloud Connect is an important component of the Cloud of Clouds strategy, it includes the options by which companies can connect to the BT global network and its connections beyond. Salesforce is not the first separate organisation to be connected. BT has previously linked up to Amazon AWS, Microsoft Office365 ExpressRoute and Microsoft ExpressRoute to Azure and companies are obviously able to use the BT network to breakout to the Internet.
What will be interesting is what BT do next. Competitors like Equinix and Megaport are rapidly expanding their interconnected clouds. It will be interesting to see whether BT aim to strengthen and maintain their own Cloud of Clouds or see a benefit in connecting to one of the other players. While there is a risk of doing this it is a decision that may be forced upon them in their search for expansion. One friendly option open to them might be a connection to Deutsche Telekom who, following the acquisition by BT of EE, now have a seat on the board.
This is an important move by BT and shows that their vision for Cloud of Clouds is still moving forward in 2016. What will be interesting is whether like Equinix last year they continue to announce more connections to vendors such Oracle in the coming months. For BT customers this is good news, a link to Salesforce should address any concerns their users have been having with performance from poor internet connectivity.
As more SaaS vendors become connected through their WAN providers it will also be a decision whether to outsource internet connectivity, firewall management and other security issues through their WAN rather than having a dedicated link in house. BT may find that by connecting to SaaS vendors such as Salesforce they are not only able to solve customer issues and offer it as an advantage in competitive tenders but also allows them to increase business from existing customers.