SITA partners with Orange to offer worldwide cloud service

Six data centers is enough for worldwide sub-100ms latency, according to Orange Business Services

Air transport industry IT specialist SITA will partner with network operator Orange Business Services to host cloud applications in six data centers around the world, the companies announced Wednesday.

The companies expect the first three data centers, in Atlanta, Frankfurt and Singapore, to enter service early next year. Three others, in Hong Kong, Johannesburg and Sydney, will open in the third quarter of next year, they said.

SITA announced its plan to offer a cloud infrastructure for the air transport industry in April, and has already begun construction of the data center in Atlanta.

Having six data centers around the world will enable the two companies to offer service to customers worldwide with a latency of under 100 milliseconds, Orange Business Services CEO Vivek Badrinath said during a webcast news conference. Orange Business Services is owned by France Télécom.

With centers in different jurisdictions, customers will also have a choice of where their data and applications are hosted, SITA CEO Francesco Violante said during the same webcast.

The data centers will all meet the Uptime Institute's requirements for Tier III data centers, Badrinath said. The Uptime Institute's standard calls for redundant data paths and power systems, and availability of at least 99.982 percent. Some of the six centers -- including the one under construction in Atlanta -- will meet the additional requirements for Tier IV, which include redundancy in power storage and cooling system power supply, and availability of 99.9995 percent.

The air transport industry is interested in cloud computing as a way to cut the cost of handling workload that varies seasonally or with the time of day, said Badrinath. Cloud computing can also offer greater security because it will be handled by specialists, he said.

Customers for the service aren't necessarily looking for cost savings, but for flexibility at the operational level as more employees become mobile, said Greg Ouillon, SITA's vice president heading the ATI Cloud program, also on the conference call.

The Orange-SITA cloud will not be restricted to aviation-related applications, however: Orange will also sell capacity to its customers in other industries, Badrinath said.

The data centers will be built to common design criteria and share the same software for functions such as orchestration, and will be interconnected by Orange's MPLS (Multi-protocol Label Switching) network, he said. However, the companies have not yet chosen hardware partners, and for some sites are still looking for real-estate partners, he said.

The companies decided to put two data centers close together, in Hong Kong and Singapore, in part to allay customer concerns about national data protection regimes, Badrinath said.

The decision was also influenced by expectations of growth in demand for air travel in China, he said.

China plans to build 120 airports, with many of the country's airlines having international aspirations, Violante added.

Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at peter_sayer@idg.com.

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Peter Sayer

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