What Does a Cloud Services Partner (CSP) Provide?
A cloud services partner provides a wide range of IT resources via the internet. This can include the deployment and management of various cloud-based resources, including legacy systems running on a Windows OS, line-of-business applications and data and desktop deployment, among others. Moving to the cloud typically decreases the overhead cost of maintaining an in-house data center and associated IT staff, offset by the (often per user) cost of the CSP.
What's the Current Market Look Like for Cloud Computing?
By 2020, Statista predicts the global cloud computing market will reach $159 billion, so the need for an experienced cloud services partner will become more acute. Many companies will go to Amazon (AWS) or Microsoft (Azure) for their cloud implementations. While these companies have a lot to offer, it can be challenging to deal with their convoluted customer service process, and many Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and their clients have to wait far too long for a workable solution to their most urgent requests.
The public cloud computing market, according to the Statista estimate, includes software, platforms, business processes, and infrastructure as a service. These services are run on remote servers via the internet and offered to a range of customers rather than a dedicated client.
What Does CPU Offer to Managed Service Partners?
Founded by IT gurus Jeanne Dewitt and David Hood, CPU provides geographic coverage and concierge or full-service hosted infrastructure services to MSPs. The company is a former MSP and its principles wanted to provide an alternative to larger services like AWS and Azure, which, due to their size, have a clunky customer service process that leaves users (and their clients) feeling like a number.
The company purposely limits the number of clients it takes on to maintain the high level of service to existing customers housed in six data centers spread throughout the US.
What Prompted CPU's Founders to Become a CSP?
Dewitt and Hood, career technologists, founded the company as an MSP after many frustrating experiences with service providers made them realize they could provide clients with a better service than what was available in the market 32 years ago.
The advent of cloud computing and a service gap left by larger players triggered the company to become a Cloud Services Partner. Business is booming, in part due to the depressed auto industry, which has businesses in northwestern Ohio moving to the cloud to reduce IT costs.
"About 18 years ago, we started to toy with the RDP side of Microsoft server and started to realize businesses, even back then, waited to access some of their data remotely," according to Jeanne Dewitt.
Then, CPU was given 60 days to find a new place to store data and resources for its clients when their own provider decided to fold up shop.
"That's what really gave us the first idea that we had to take control of it, rent space in the data center and put all of our own equipment in it...all of our own technology and have control of it," David Hood said.
What are the Benefits of a CSP that Knows Your Name?
"Microsoft Azure, AWS and us are all on the same data centers, using the same virtual machines but the difference is we've got people you can talk to...and troubleshoot things with, and come up with solutions to customer problems," according to Hood.
"We know who our clients are and what they need without going through the rigamarole where [larger CSPs] don't know who you are or what your expertise is," added Dewitt, referring to expert level technologists having to start at tier 1 support and wait, often hours or even days, to get the support they need.
What are the Top 3 Recommendations for Choosing a Cloud Services Partner?
When it comes to choosing a Cloud Services Partner, Hood and Dewitt recommend companies keep the following 3 tips in mind.
- "Do your research. Look at the testimonials [on a CSP's website]," Hood suggested.
- "Some companies say they're MSP focused but very few were [ever] MSPs. That's one of our differentiators, said Hood, referring to CPU's experience as an MSP.
- Dewitt noted, "We have five data centers throughout the US, so we have load balancing capabilities throughout the country. If we have a company with customers on the west coast, we can help get them close to that client, which can help if they don't have great bandwidth to access their data."
Hood also noted that he and Dewitt own the client relationship and their extensive IT background enables them to bridge the gap between clients and CPU's technology professionals providing the actual service.
How Does a Smaller CSP Compete with MS Azure or Amazon's AWS?
It's all about staying small enough for scalability, according to Dewitt. "We don't want to become an MS Azure or another company with tens of thousands of customers. We want a smaller group of customers so we know who they are when they call," she said.
CPU's owners and account managers communicate with their clients using the following guidelines:
- No geek speak. Keep the conversation at a level non-technical people can understand.
- Find out what the client wants before pulling in the technical people needed to solve the problem.
What Applications Can Be Migrated to CPU's Cloud?
Virtually any application running on a Window OS is a good candidate for the cloud.
"Really anything...we have clients that have older applications, some LOB [Line of Business] applications running on a physical server. As long as it's running on a Windows server, it can be replicated in the cloud and it's not running on that physical server anymore," said Hood.
"We've got clients that are running Server 2003, but it's in the cloud because that application, they have to have it and 2003 is all it'll run on." So the company can successfully support legacy systems in a cloud environment without worrying about hardware failure.