Story behind Brilliant Cloud: A public cloud service provider in Bangladesh

March 15, 2024

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InterCloud Limited is part of a group of companies in Bangladesh having businesses in garment manufacturing, aviation, and telecommunications industry. Tusuka which might sound Japanese but is entirely rooted in indigenous origins, derives its name from the initial syllables of Tula (cotton), Suta (yarn), and Kapor (cloth), established itself as a major denim product manufacturer and exporter in Bangladesh. Novoair, a premium passenger airline in Bangladesh, presently maintains a fleet comprising of seven ATR-72 aircraft.

The journey of the group in telecommunications industry began in 2008 when Novotel Limited acquired an International Voice Gateway license, as part of the government’s privatization and liberalization efforts. With the successful implementation of the international voice infrastructure and business, the management of Novotel decided to expand into data business in 2012. This expansion was facilitated by securing three additional licenses from BTRC: 1) International Terrestrial Cable 2) International Internet Gateway and 3) National Internet Exchange (NIX) all under the name Novocom Limited.

The telecommunications operators in Bangladesh currently operate under a layered licensing structure, requiring separate licenses from Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) for different services.

Novotel and Novocom together have more than 500 interconnect operators from across the globe to facilitate international Voice, a2P SMS and Data (Internet, Data, IPLC, MPLS, DIA) connectivity. Through the partnerships and interoperation with international telecom operators, Novotel and NovoCom’s technology team gained valuable experience, especially in ensuring uptime and resilience for telecom infrastructure, data center and telecom network. This experience boosted confidence in the team prompting to explore the provision of highly available services for the enterprise market in Bangladesh.

In 2013, when the management decided to obtain an Internet Service Provider (ISP) license. An internal team was assigned the task of naming the company. The team at Novotel always sought innovation to bring added values to their business. Around that time, the concept of cloud services was creating quite a buzz, with predictions that everything would migrate to the cloud in the future. While an ISP license primarily pertains to providing internet services, the team envisioned offering more than just internet connectivity through the new entity for enterprise market. So, when selecting the company’s name, the team had a vision of providing services beyond internet, such as cloud services. Thus, they chose the name “InterCloud” (the cloud of the clouds), symbolizing their ambition to bring cloud services in Bangladesh to supplement internet (the network of networks) services. The first tag line for InterCloud Limited was “More than Internet” aligning the ultimate vision of the new company. Later InterCloud Limited also acquired another license called IP Telephony Service Provider (IPTSP) license that enabled the entity to provide VoIP based telephony services for retail and enterprise market with various solutions.

Thus, the journey into cloud services began with the company’s name. Later, the management decided to unify all its products and services under the brand name “Brilliant” within InterCloud Limited while changing the tagline to “Solutions for a Smart World” in 2018.

When the management contemplated launching cloud services in Bangladesh, there were internal debates about the feasibility of entering a market already dominated by global players such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Microsoft Azure providing similar services on a larger scale. They thought that this kind of product might not match their scale or expertise. Fortunately, one of the management team members had the opportunity to meet with the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of CtrlS, an Indian data center and cloud service provider in 2015 in a telecom conference. The member inquired about how they thrived in the Indian market while competing with global cloud players like AWS, GCP, and Microsoft Azure, all of whom had a physical presence in India. His response highlighted a crucial factor: in our part of the world, customers highly value personalized service. The customers expect to be able to call for help or have a service provider’s representative on-site when encountering issues with their services. So, while the global cloud service providers may have a presence in India, there is a significant difference in customer service that sets local providers in a different position. This perspective has strongly motivated Intercloud management team to pursue a local public cloud service in Bangladesh.

The technology team at InterCloud initiated an assessment of various available cloud solution platforms. Many prominent platforms came with substantial licensing fees and a requirement to use specific hardware brands. After careful evaluation, the team realized that selecting a licensed cloud platform would hinder the competitiveness in the market. It would also lock into specific hardware choices and necessitate ongoing licensing fees for each service the platform offered. The team was always inspired to create something locally by the parent company Novotel Limited.

Accordingly, the technical team at Intercloud made the strategic decision to deploy the OpenStack open-source platform. While a top-level team took guidance from an OpenStack consultant in designing the architecture, the in-house team took charge of the deployment. Later, Intercloud recruited a passionate software team who helped to develop various features of the platform with Python programming. Brilliant Cloud is currently maintained and managed by two separate teams, each with different responsibilities—one overseeing infrastructure and support the other handling software-related issues.

Brilliant Cloud team had the flexibility in selecting hardware which led them to acquire servers from various reputable brands including Dell, HP, Momentum, and OEM servers with high-density specifications. To enhance storage capabilities, brilliant team implemented CEPH, SSD, and NVME storage solutions from NetApp. Network equipment is sourced from CISCO and Fortinet for firewall security. To meet the demands of the growing business, brilliant team is continuously expanding the compute server infrastructure in alignment with the sales forecasts.

In initial days, Brilliant Cloud Platform did not have any management portal for the users and users had to rely on IP addresses for logging into their virtual machines (VMs). However, Brilliant Software team implemented a cloud management portal that enables users to access and manage their VMs using a username and password, along with the added security of two-factor authentication.

Brilliant cloud platform has been enriched in terms of functionality, including the introduction of features such as launching instances, monitoring VM with alarms, identity and access management (IAM), Creating VPC (Virtual Private Cloud), deployment of Network Security Groups, Object Storage (S3), Load Balancers (LB), and more from the portal. Brilliant cloud portal has also facilitated online purchase, payment, and provisioning of cloud services for small packages.

In addition to Brilliant’s core offering, it has introduced several other services on its cloud platform. Such as Back up as a service (BaaS), Storage as a Service (SaaS), Brilliant Connect (an application-based calling service), Telephony and app-based Cloud PBX, A2P SMS services and a range of innovative enterprise solutions that integrate all the products and services in the portfolio. It is worth mentioning here that Brilliant Cloud has the capability to package private point to point connectivity for any requirement (specially for financial institutions) as a network service provider.

To understand the robustness of the cloud infrastructure, it’s worth noting that the Brilliant Connect platform operates across 40 virtual machines (VMs) within Brilliant Cloud catering to an user base of nearly 3 million registered customers.

Brilliant Cloud provides customers with the convenience of local payment options, minimal latency and monthly fixed billing without any surprised charges related to data volume. Most of the customers are from Bangladesh, so the local Internet access through NIX has created the provision for Brilliant to free data volume charges so far.

Furthermore, Brilliant software development team is working tirelessly to enrich the platform with more features that are available in many platforms playing in the global market. There is an extensive list of features on the roadmap that brilliant software team is actively pursuing.

Introducing a new product like local public cloud in 2018 in Bangladesh market was undeniably a challenging task. The market had already been marked by a significant trust deficit concerning online products and services. Furthermore, IT heads and managers had reluctance about migrating their systems to the cloud, whether it was a local or global solution. Even entities like government organizations, major corporations, and particularly financial institutions were continuing to invest in building their own small-scale data centers, with reluctance to consider utilizing publicly offered data centers or cloud services.

Local knowledgeable cloud customers had a strong inclination towards the offerings of global cloud platforms such as AWS, GCP, and Microsoft Azure, Digital Oceans etc. despite facing challenges such as foreign currency payment, high latency, unpredictable data charges and a shortage of certified professionals on those global platforms. Their expectation from a local cloud provider was no less than that of a global platform.

Initially, the strategic focus of brilliant sales team was to cater the requirements of startups and small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for testing the services. Cloud sales team encouraged local software companies to offer Software as a Service (SaaS) model in the market banking on the cloud platform. Brilliant Cloud sincerely appreciate the valued customers for their invaluable feedback, which has played a pivotal role in improving the offerings. Over time, the cloud sales team has seen the expansion of the customer base to include large corporations who are now also benefiting from the diverse range of cloud services. At present, Brilliant Cloud has over 350 satisfied customers local and international benefiting from the Brilliant Cloud platform, either for their own use or to provide services through the platform. Based on the current market feedback, it is evident that the mind-set of local IT professionals regarding cloud services is undergoing a transformation. Developed market made this transition a decade or more ago while the Indian market did so about 5 to 7 years ago.

Intercloud management would like to express gratitude to all stakeholders who have been part of the Journey of Brilliant Cloud so far.



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