BMIT CEO Christian Sammut on cloud services: “This is the next big thing. It will cause a paradigm shift in the way we consume and work around IT.”
20th March 2012: BMIT, a member of the Go group, is set to launch its new cloud platform and infrastructure in the next few days. This pioneering initiative for cloud computing in Malta will enable the company to expand its data centre services and provide facilities in one of the hotwww emerging trends in computing. BMIT is the only data centre with a fibre-optic connection to all three local communications providers
“Cloud computing is an evolution of various ICT developments over many years and many consider it to be the successor of grid computing and hosted services,” BMIT chief executive officer Christian Sammut told i-Tech.
“I don’t particularly like the term cloud services as it might give the impression that it is something unclear and unstable, when in fact it is a delivery framework based on very robust technologies and architectures. But yes, all indicators are that this is the next big thing, which will cause a paradigm shift in the way we consume and work around IT.”
Go acquired a stake in Maltese online services company BMIT a few years back and wholly acquired it in July last year. BMIT operates at an arm’s length from Go and works closely with Go’s competitors in terms of internet access services to ensure that it provides top connectivity services available in Malta.
BMIT operates two data centres locally with a footprint of over 1,000 square metres and 300 server racks. It is the only data centre in Malta with a fibre-optic connection to all three Maltese communications providers, which link Malta to the rest of the world through their four undersea fiber-optic cables. The data centres are built to Tier III specifications, though not yet certified as such.
As part its diversification strategy, BMIT has been gradually adding new services to its portfolio, and from being a pure co-location company it now offers new services such as virtual private servers, several hosting options, as well as the management of services in a hosted environment.
The next step in this process is the launch of its own cloud computing platform, which will allow it to offer a range of cloud infrastructure services, computing-on-demand, and eventually several software-as-a-service applications with partners. This is an important milestone and a major investment for BMIT, well exceeding €1 million over the coming months.
Like all new trends, cloud computing presents its opportunities and challenges, especially for a small country like Malta.
“The two major challenges to us are the market size and the need to raise awareness and inform the market of the benefits that cloud services bring to businesses. Although research we have been undertaking clearly shows a rather high level of knowledge and interest, it is still our intention to explain the benefits of our offering better. Market size is a challenge and also an opportunity since the cloud allows us to extend our reach beyond Malta.
“It is not our intention to compete with Amazon or Microsoft head on. Our cloud services are obviously being designed to be very competitive in terms of price and features. However, we are also offering additional benefits such as flexibility and customisation and even more important, 24x7 local and personalised support,” Mr Sammut explained.
i-Tech was shown the online cloud services system where BMIT customers can buy computing power in terms of processors, memory and operating system with a few simple clicks on a website.
The computing power can be used right away. This is called infrastructure-as-a-service, consisting of computing on demand and a virtual private server offering.
BMIT is also planning to roll-out software-as-a-service. Some services such as hosted mail and collaboration will be offered directly, with others offered in collaboration with partners. The benefits of using SaaS are many but possibly the most obvious are ease of access to applications in pay-as-you-go fashion in contrast to having to buy expensive infrastructure, including hardware and license fees. There is also the advantage of doing away with software upgrades and maintenance since these would be catered for by the SaaS provider. All this goes on to build on the success of recent years where Malta had attracted online gaming companies and provided them with a good legal framework as well technology services. BMIT has, over these last years, established itself as one of the leading providers of co-location, hosting and managed services to online gaming companies in Europe.
“The gaming industry is an extremely important industry for Malta and thousands of people are employed directly or indirectly. Additionally millions of euros are injected into the Maltese economy by the hundreds of operators established here. This has been possible through online gaming legislation which Malta has adopted and kept constantly updated, as well as the fiscal incentives for operators establishing their business here,” Mr Sammut added.
Over these last months, BMIT has been investing heavily in new technologies and skill sets to extend its data centre expertise into other areas. As a result, the company is providing services to a wider range of customers, including those in financial services, legal, architecture, IT solutions and retail businesses, among others.