Data centre agility as a differentiator

This article was originally published on Technology.Info.
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Creating and delivering profitable services is the foundation of any service provider’s business. For some, their data centres’ agility play a crucial role. Nasstar, a hosted desktop cloud computing services provider, is one such company. We talked to CEO Nigel Redwood about acquisitions, partnerships and adding value for customers.

Nasstar today represents the coming together of three businesses.

e-know

.net has been around for over 14 years and specialises in hosting for small and medium-sized enterprises, especially in legal, recruitment, financial, and manufacturing sectors. It has grown from targeting small businesses of 50 employees to those with around 250 and sells direct to its four key verticals. It supplies full outsourcing and support for applications and projects that span the spectrum, from hosting commodity applications like Office and email to hosting legacy applications, delivering telephony and networking solutions and providing consultancy services for a wide range of IT requirements.

Nasstar’s business before the mergers was that of a more traditional infrastructure-as-a-service provider. It operates in a similar way to e-know.net, but with ‘white label’ partners. This means less involvement directly with end users – with the customer doing most of the IT administration.

The acquisition of Kamanchi in 2014 has given the group 33 recruitment clients with over 2,500 recruitment consultant end-users, and put it at the top of the Hosted Desktop market for the recruitment sector – a position that e-know.net already holds within the legal sector. Kamanchi is similar to e-know.net: it does everything for the client but goes one step further and provides business analysis. Services include business process mapping and related integration and development / consulting support for applications.

Connectivity and business continuity

Nasstar has chosen to play in regulated sectors - which at first glance suggests a counter-intuitive approach. However, it is because of regulatory requirements that its values are easier to understand. The company sees two key needs that drive these customers – efficient productivity and business continuity. Its customers want a reasonably-priced solution that is fully compliant. In the case of business continuity, often at different levels of price and cover. As a hosted service provider, the three Nasstar businesses can offer various permutations of user support levels, network availability down to the device regardless of user location and integration with telephony for seamless disaster recovery.
In many ways, operating the ‘per user, per month’ approach has opened doors not just for day to day business and productivity applications, but also business continuity compliance. Getting these services right for the SMB sector can be particularly tricky, and one that the Nasstar team seems to have mastered. The broadening of its portfolio is changing the mix of workload to be supported by its data centres.

Data centre consolidation

In September 2014, The company reported with its interim results that its data centre consolidation programme had been executed as planned, reducing data centre numbers down to four from six. This was really about bringing new businesses together and improving efficiency by tapping into under-utilised capacity.
However, even as efficiency gains are being realised, projected growth in volume suggests additional capacity will need to be acquired in the medium term. Nasstar has just announced that it is on the hunt for innovative resellers to act as partners in key verticals. Whether meeting additional capacity is through wholly owned and operated infrastructure or an alternative model is yet to be seen.
Hear more from Nigel Redwood at the Disrupting the data centre: Lessons from the coalface panel on Wednesday, 8th October at 11:40.

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