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11/18/2008
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Capgemini Sharpens Cloud Consulting With Amazon Deal

The company also launched a new group, the Cloud Computing Center of Excellence, that will help businesses evaluate and implement cloud services and offer cloud consulting.

Capgemini is trying to position itself as the professional services company that businesses can turn to when developing their cloud computing strategies. On Tuesday, the company announced that it's partnering with Amazon.com to help businesses plug into Amazon's cloud.

The company also launched a new group, the Cloud Computing Center of Excellence, that will help businesses evaluate and implement cloud services and offer cloud consulting, application development, migration, and backup services and readiness assessments, beginning with services for Amazon's cloud platform. The center will also train "hundreds" of Capgemini employees on how to provide cloud computing services.

Initially, the new group will focus primarily on three cloud scenarios for which Capgemini has done several pilot tests, including hosting Microsoft SharePoint or Oracle ERP and doing custom application development and testing on Amazon's cloud platform.

Capgemini has hosted several pilot projects running Oracle applications on Amazon EC2 and S3, including a transportation management application, Oracle database, and Fusion middleware. Capgemini found that Oracle apps were easier to deploy, more scalable, and cheaper to operate in the cloud than on premises, and the client using the transportation management application is moving from pilot to production, based largely on the promise of Amazon's almost infinite scalability.

Capgemini also has a few SharePoint pilots under way, including one with a "major automotive manufacturer" that now wants to move some of its previously server-based SharePoint users onto the cloud for collaboration and document and knowledge management.

The new group will also offer cloud computing workshops called Discovery Days, release documents and project templates, and build best practices to help its clients better understand how cloud computing might help their business.

One of the reasons Capgemini decided to work with Amazon Web Services first rather than Google App Engine or Salesforce.com's Force.com is that it's more open.

"It's a very vanilla cloud," Richard Payling, Capgemini's VP of global outsourcing, said in an interview. "Once you move into [Microsoft Windows] Azure, Google App Engine, or Force.com, you're basically forced to use their development languages or their chosen operating systems."

The Amazon deal follows up on one with Google last September, when Capgemini agreed to provide desktop outsourcing services for Google Apps. It's been slow to ramp up, but Payling said that business is picking up, and Capgemini will soon announce that it has migrated 30,000 former IBM Lotus Notes users at an enterprise in Europe to Google Apps.

According to Payling, much of the enterprise interest in Google Apps is coming from companies that have a large number of employees without their own work-supplied computers, such as manufacturing companies or in call centers. Just as clients are asking about Google Apps, there's also a growing interest in Microsoft's new SAAS e-mail and collaboration services, Exchange Online and SharePoint Online.

While Amazon's cloud is established, Microsoft's Azure cloud computing endeavor is relatively new. InformationWeek has prepared a comparison. Download the report here (registration required).

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