Like many telecommunications providers Colt has had to modify its strategy to recover from the falling revenues that are generated by voice communications. Colt has become a major provider of technology services and using its Colt network and datacentres has become a leading private cloud computing provider.

COLT is a pan-European telecoms provider. Its network connects 18,000 buildings, all of them corporate buildings. Its high-end networks are popular with major enterprises, especially in the financial services and small and medium sized businesses who use COLT connected buildings. COLT has 19 datacentres sat right on top of its own network. The network connects the major cities of Europe, the prime locations of 13 leading nations.

COLT itself employs 5000 people with 25 per cent of that workforce now in India supporting the managed services business and COLT IT.

"Where it will be interesting is where the cloud develops a difference between the Amazon cloud and a secure performance guaranteed cloud that is like an enterprise-class infrastructure. The difference between the cloud and the managed service model is that managed services is an extension of your own environment. So you will have all the control as if it was in your datacentre, but without the cost of setting one up. For COLT to offer an increased managed services business, it had to increase its own IT capacity,” Leonard explained to CIO.

“Colt has transformed itself and the outward vision of that is that we are no longer Colt Telecom,” says Leonard.

“That transformation process was exciting. As the CIO I was excited to be a key part of the process and excited about the IT more than the brand.”

Tied into that cultural change and new business model at Colt was a move to the “office of the future”, which Leonard des¬cribes as a new approach to providing computing to his workforce. At the heart of it Colt is embracing the consumerisation-of-IT debate. Colt has a bring-your-own-PC policy and is at the forefront of cloud adoption. “These steps have opened the doors for proper collaboration and unified communications,” he says.

“We have developed a self-service capability for IT. You can set up your own SharePoint site by applying for it online and it is then fulfilled online. Previously we were getting 6000 requests a month for shared directories. Our new culture is all about being collaborative.”

The end result is that Colt is now a technology services provider with a heavy lean towards managed services and cloud computing based on a strong relationship with virtualisation leader VMware as well as its own telecommunications heritage of a private high-capacity network with a series of data¬centres in the most important cities in Europe. That heritage was beneficial for Colt in the transformation.

Read the CIO interview:

Colt CIO Mark Leonard on Cloud and office of the future

Managing COLT services