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Datacenter Interviews

“Demand for scale and speed delivered at the right economics is opening the door for a new breed of Hyperscale Service Provider being sought by the biggest Internet-based businesses.” – Chris Ortbals, QTS.

The rapid adoption of public cloud and the onset of new technologies like the internet of things, neural networks, artificial intelligence, machine learning and mega-scale online retailing are reshaping the data center industry, driving demand for data center capacity and cloud connectivity.

QTS is the leading data center provider that serves current and future needs of both hyperscale and hybrid colocation customers via software-defined data center experience. We recently interviewed Chris Ortbals – Executive Vice President, Products & Marketing, QTS, to know about his take on the changing data center requirements and QTS strategy of redefining the data center.

1. Please share an overview of QTS’ journey from inception till date with DHN readers. How has it transformed from being a single data center to becoming one of the leading national data center providers?

QTS is the creation of Chad Williams, a business and real-estate entrepreneur who had a strong vision of what a data center can and should be. Williams foresaw increasing IT complexity and demand for capacity and recognized the opportunity for large, highly secure, multi-tenant data centers, with ample space, power and connectivity.

Chris Ortbals Executive Vice President, Products & Marketing QTS

In 2005, QTS was formally established with the purchase of a 370,000 square foot Atlanta-Suwanee mega data center. Williams focused on building an integrated data center platform delivering a broad range of IT infrastructure services ranging from wholesale to colocation, to hybrid and multi-cloud, to hyperscale solutions, and backed by an unwavering commitment to customer support.

Since then, we have grown both organically and through acquisition into one of the world’s leading data center and IT infrastructure services providers, and in 2013 we began trading on the New York Stock Exchange under symbol (NYSE: QTS).

Today, QTS offers a focused portfolio of hybrid colocation, cloud, and hyperscale data center solutions built on the industry’s first software-defined data center and service delivery platform and is a trusted partner to 1,200 customers, including 5 of the worlds’ largest cloud providers. We own, operate or manage more than six million square feet of data center space encompassing 26 data centers, 600+ megawatts of critical power, and access to 500+ networks including connectivity on-ramps to the world’s largest hyperscale companies and cloud providers.

More recently, we have been accelerating momentum as a hyperscale data center provider able to meet unique requirements for scale and speed-to-market delivered at the right economics being sought by the biggest Internet-based businesses.

2. Throw some light on the recent QTS strategy of redefining the data center. What’s the Software-Defined Data Center approach, how do you plan to execute it and how will it help hyperscale and hybrid colocation customers?

We believe that QTS’ Service Delivery Platform (SDP) enables QTS as one of the first true Software Defined Data Centers (SDDC) with 100% completeness of vision. It is an architectural approach that facilitates service delivery across QTS’ entire hybrid colocation and hyperscale solutions portfolio.

Through policy-based automation of the data and facilities infrastructure, QTS customers benefit from the ability to adapt to changes in real-time, to increase utilization, performance, security and quality of services. QTS’ SDP approach involves the digitization, aggregation and analysis of more than 4 billion data points per day across all of QTS’ customer environments.

For hybrid colocation and hyperscale customers, it allows them to integrate data within their own applications and gain deeper insight into the use of their QTS services within their IT environments. It is a highly-automated, cloud-based approach that increases visibility and facilitates operational improvements by enabling customers to access and interact with information related to their data center deployments in a way that is simple, seamless and available on-demand.

3. How do you differentiate yourself from your competition?

QTS software-defined service delivery is redefining the data center to enable new levels of automation and innovation that significantly improves our customers’ overall experience. This is backed by a hi-touch, enterprise customer support organization that is focused on serving as a trusted and valued partner.

4. How does it feel to receive the industry leading net promoter score for the third consecutive year?

We were extremely proud to announce that in 2017 we achieved our all-time high NPS score of 72 and the third consecutive year that we have led the industry in customer satisfaction for our data centers across the U.S.

Our customers rated us highly in a range of service areas, including customer service, physical facilities, processes, responsiveness service of onsite staff and our 24-hour Operations Service Center.

As our industry-leading NPS results demonstrate, our customers continue to view QTS as a trusted partner. We are also starting to see the benefits of our service delivery platform that is delivering new levels of innovation in how customers interact with QTS and their infrastructure, contributing to even higher levels of customer satisfaction.

5. QTS last year entered into a strategic alliance with AWS. Can you elaborate what is CloudRamp and how will it simplify cloud migration?

AWS came to us last year telling us that a growing number of their customers were requiring colocation as part of their hybrid IT solution. They viewed QTS as a customer-centric colocation provider with the added advantage of our Service Delivery Platform that allowed us to seamlessly integrate colocation with AWS as a turnkey service available on- demand.

We entered a strategic collaboration with AWS to develop and deliver QTS CloudRampTM – direct connected colocation for AWS customers made available for purchase online via the AWS Marketplace.

By aligning with AWS, we were able to offer an innovative approach to colocation, bridging the gap between traditional solutions and the cloud. The solution is also groundbreaking in that it marked the first time AWS had offered colocation to its customers and signaled the growing demand for hybrid IT solutions. At the same time, it significantly accelerated time-to-value for what previously had been a much slower purchasing and deployment process.

For enterprises with requirements extending beyond CloudRamp, QTS and AWS provide tailored, hybrid IT solutions built upon QTS’ highly secure and reliable colocation infrastructure optimized for AWS.

6. Tell us something about Sacramento-IX. How will the newly deployed Primary Internet Exchange Hub in QTS Sacramento Data Center facilitate interconnection and connectivity solutions?

QTS is strongly committed to building an unrestricted Internet ecosystem and we are focused on expanding carrier neutral connectivity options for customers in all of our data centers.

Interconnection has evolved from a community driven effort in the 90’s to a restrictive, commercial industry dominated by a few large companies. Today there is a movement to get back to the community driven, high integrity ecosystem, and QTS is aligning our Internet exchange strategy as part of this community.

A great example is how the Sacramento Internet Exchange (Sacramento-IX) has deployed its primary Internet Exchange hub within QTS’ Sacramento data center. It is the first internet exchange in Sacramento and is being driven by increased traffic network performance demands in the region. It expands QTS’ Internet ecosystem and simplifies our customers network strategies by providing diverse connectivity options allowing them to manage network traffic in a more cost-effective way.

Once considered the backup and recovery outpost for the Bay area, Sacramento has quickly become a highly interconnected and a geostrategic network hub for northern California. It also solidifies our Sacramento data center as one of the most interconnected data centers in the region and as the primary west coast connectivity gateway for key fiber routes to Denver, Salt Lake City and points east.

7. Hyperscale data centers are growing at an accelerated pace and are expected to soon replace the traditional data centers. Can you tell us some factors/reasons that aid the rise of hyperscale data centers?

The rapid adoption of public cloud, the Internet of things, artificial intelligence, neural networks, machine learning, and mega-scale online retailing are driving unprecedented increases in demand for data center capacity and cloud connectivity.

Hyperscale refers to the rapid deployment of this capacity required for new mega-scale Internet business models. These Hyperscale companies require a data center growth strategy that combines speed, scalability and economics in order to drive down cost of compute and free up the capital needed to feed the needs of their core businesses. Think Google, Uber, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and many more needing huge capacity in a quick timeframe. They are looking for mega-scale computing capacity inside hyperscale data centers that can deliver economies of scale not matched by conventional enterprise data center architectures.

This demand for scale and speed delivered at the right economics is opening the door for a new breed of Hyperscale Service Provider being sought by the biggest Internet-based businesses. These are data centers whose ability to deliver immense capacity must be matched by an ability to provide core requirements for speed, quality, operator excellence, visibility and economics, that leaves out a majority of conventional hosting and service providers who are not interested in or capable of meeting them.

And while the organization may have need for very large geostrategic 20, 40, 60 megawatt deployments, typically they want a provider that can deliver it incrementally to reduce risk and increase agility.

8. Throw some light on your current datacenters and future expansion plans.

Chad Williams’ had the vision for identifying large, undervalued – but infrastructure-rich – buildings (at low cost basis) that could be rapidly transformed into state of the art “mega” data center facilities to serve growing enterprise demand for outsourced IT infrastructure services.

In Chicago, the former Chicago Sun Times printing plant was transformed into a 467,000 square foot mega data center. In Dallas and Richmond, former semi-conductor plants are now state of the art mega data centers encompassing more than 2 million square feet. And in Atlanta, the former Sears distribution center was converted into a 967,000 square foot mega data center that is now home to some of the world’s largest cloud and social media platforms.

However, in some cases, a greenfield approach is the more viable option. In Ashburn Va. the Internet capital of the world, we are building a new 427,000 square foot facility from the ground up that is expected to open later this summer. Expansion plans also call for new data center builds in Phoenix and Hillsboro, Oregon.

9. What is your datacenter sustainability and efficiency strategy?

At QTS, we understand that being a good environmental steward takes much more than just a simple initiative. That’s why we have focused our efforts on developing a company-wide approach – one that utilizes reused and recycled materials, maximizes water conservation and improves energy savings.

Central to this is our commitment to minimizing the data center carbon footprint and utilizing as much renewable fuel as possible by implementing a 3-pronged sustainability approach featuring solutions in containment and power usage effectiveness (PUE) metric products.

This encompasses:

       1. Develop and Recycle Buildings

Part of our data center sustainability strategy is reusing brownfield properties and transforming them into state-of-the-art data centers.

        2. Water Conservation

With a large data center comes a big roof that is capable of harvesting rainwater. We collect millions of gallons of water using a harvesting system on a portion of the roof.

        3. Energy Efficiency

As a data center provider, cooling is a critical part of our job and is approximately 30% of the electricity load at the data center.

QTS is one of the first data center companies to invest in renewable energy specifically for its hybrid colocation and hyperscale customers.

A recent example is a multi-year agreement with Citi to provide 100% renewable power for our 700,00 sq. ft. mega data center in Irving, Texas. The power and renewable energy credits will come from the Flat Top Wind Project, a 200 megawatt utility-scale wind energy facility in central Texas. QTS will purchase 15 MW of 100% renewable power for its Irving data center, with plans for a similar agreement in its Fort Worth data center later this year.

The investment supports QTS’ commitment to lead the industry in providing clean, renewable energy alternatives for QTS hybrid colocation and hyperscale customers that include five of five largest cloud providers and several global social media platforms.

In addition to the new wind power initiative in Texas, QTS’ New Jersey data center features a 14 MW solar farm to offset emissions associated with power consumption at that facility. QTS plans to expand renewable power initiatives in existing and new data centers including those being planned for Phoenix and Hillsboro, OR.

10. What’s in the roadmap for the year 2018?

QTS is now executing on our 2018 strategic growth plan that involves continued innovation with the Service Delivery Platform. It enables a software-defined data center experience for hyperscale and hybrid colocation customers. QTS’ SDP represents a big data approach enabling customers to access and interact with information related to their specific IT environment by aggregating metrics and data from multiple sources into a single operational view.

More importantly, it provides customers the ability to remotely view, manage and optimize resources in real time in a cloud-like experience, which is what customers increasing expect from their service providers. In addition, through a variety of software-defined networking platforms, enterprises can now get direct connectivity to the world’s largest cloud providers with real-time visibility and control over their network infrastructure using QTS’ SDP application interface.

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Articles Cloud Datacenter

Does the cloud have to be so complicated?

It’s been more than a decade since the launch of the first rudimentary cloud platforms. We’ve come a long way since then. Billions of people interact with the cloud every day. Many of the largest companies in the world run their IT operations on cloud platforms, and so do hundreds of thousands of smaller businesses. But there are still reasons for businesses to be cautious.

Many business leaders recognize how useful Infrastructure-as-a-Service could be to their company, but they are hesitant to make the leap from on-premises or colocated legacy systems to cloud hosting for business-critical applications. That is partly due to inertia: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But it is also in large part due to concerns about the risk posed by the potential for a botched cloud migration. We’ve all heard stories of businesses sinking millions of dollars into a cloud migration that didn’t work out, costing vastly more than it would have to do nothing at all.

No doubt cloud consultants think there isn’t much wrong with the way things are, but cloud vendors who take responsibility for helping their clients with cloud migrations would have a strong competitive advantage.

  • Security and compliance

When I talk to businesses about moving to the cloud, their number one concern is regulatory compliance. How does a cloud user know that their applications and services will remain compliant with HIPAA or PCI DSS once they no longer control the infrastructure layer?

Certifications and business associate agreements go some way to solving that problem, but it would allay worry if cloud vendors were prepared to work with individual clients, including smaller businesses, providing the help they need to build infrastructure deployments suitable for hosting sensitive workloads.

  • Cost

Cloud server hosting is less expensive than buying, maintaining, and managing server hardware. Cost reduction is one of the major motivations for adopting cloud platforms in the first place. But maximizing the cost benefit isn’t a given; it is possible to mismanage cloud resources, spending more than necessary and undercutting any potential cost benefit.

Of course, it is not in the financial interest of most cloud vendors to stop their clients from spending more than they have to, but providing utilization monitoring services and consulting with clients on the efficient use of cloud servers would go a long way to helping them use the cloud as efficiently as possible.

  • Complexity

The issues we’ve discussed can be reduced to a problem of complexity: mainstream cloud platforms are simply too complex.

Convoluted pricing structures, Byzantine management interfaces, and a lack of meaningful support from cloud vendors increases the chances that a cloud migration will go awry and decreases the chances that businesses will have the confidence to embrace a beneficial technology.

There is room in the market for a wide range of cloud vendors, from platforms that provide services and no support to hands-on service providers who are happy to help clients build solutions and achieve the full potential of on-demand, elastic, and flexible cloud infrastructure.

Also read: In the cloud era, Dedicated Servers remain an attractive option

About Guest Author-

Karl Zimmerman is the founder and CEO of Steadfast, a leading IT Data Center Service company. Steadfast specializes in highly flexible cloud environments, robust dedicated and colocation hosting, and disaster recovery.

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Articles Cloud News Technology

New Market Opportunities for Entry Level Cloud MSPs with Increased Cloud Migration

New market opportunities to emerge for entry-level cloud MSPs with increasing migration to the cloud, as per a 451 Microsoft commissioned research that was unveiled in Microsoft Hosting and Cloud Summit 2017 at Bellevue, last month.

Public cloud spending is expected to reach $500B by 2020 as per the IDC CloudView 2016 Survey,  due to key change drivers like – CTO/IT, EOL technologies, Shadow IT and more. The role of the Private/Hybrid cloud is expected be the most relevant in the coming times. As per a Pulse Gatepoint Research, March 2016, 46% of customers prefer Azure over any other public cloud, with AWS standing at 42%.

All this and more data were revealed through a study called Workload and Application migration to Azure – Your Path to Recurring Revenue at MHS 2017 which discussed about the reasons behind such migrations and how MSPs can make use of this opportunity.

Various factors were identified as being the top triggers for huge Customer Workload migrations like cost reductions from CAPEX to OPEX, DC modernization, increasing DC operational costs, need of modern security for modern day threats, regulatory compliance requirement, and business continuity. Other reasons pointed towards increasing need for business agility, time to value, and issues in managing co-location licenses.

Another Markets and Markets research – Cloud Migration Services Market – Global Forecast 2016-2021, that was discussed, showed the size of the cloud migration market in 2016. Cloud migration market is expected to grow from USD $2.40 billion in 2016 to USD $7.10 billion in 2020.

As per the research, customers who will move their infra or applications on cloud will need help from third party solution providers which is a good news for managed service providers. Azure partners stand to gain by offering Advanced Managed Services (Analytics, IoT, AI), Workload optimization, Cloud workload management services and Assessment and Migration.

Microsoft also introduced “Migration in a Box” tool for boosting up the entire migration process and helping partners conduct successful migration with less complexities. The kit will have complete scoping, roadmap to migration allowing discovery of current servers, applications, and workloads. Partners can access map dependencies, select tools and forecast ROI and deliver actual migration.

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Cloud Cloud News Datacenter Hosting Innovation New Products News Technology

RiverMeadow Software Releases RiverMeadow Cloud Migration SaaS 2.0

Automated server migration solution developer RiverMeadow Software today announced the availability of version 2.0 of RiverMeadow Cloud Migration SaaS with many new features and infrastructure enhancements.

With the enhancements delivered in RiverMeadow Cloud Migration SaaS 2.0, we continue to remove the barriers of entry for just a fraction of the cost and without the operational headaches, so organizations can immediately gain the economic and practical benefits of cloud computing.
– Mark Shirman, CEO, RiverMeadow.Mark Shirman, CEO, RiverMeadow

RiverMeadow Cloud Migration SaaS is an API-based platform which automates the cloud migration process from beginning-to-end, without having to install agents or take servers out of production, thereby saving considerable amount of cost and time. It accommodates both Linux and Windows server-to-cloud migrations.

RiverMeadow Cloud Migration SaaS migrates whole servers and disk volumes at the OS level.

Cloud providers can provide their cloud URL and credentials, and instantly access RiverMeadow’s three key processes – Collect, Convert and Deploy – that automate server migrations from start-to-finish.

For more complex projects such as full datacenter or hybrid cloud deployments, the RiverMeadow SaaS provides the necessary feature-set for migrating multiple servers or interdependent clusters of servers at a single time.

The new release is a re-architecture of RiverMeadow Cloud Migration SaaS, and enables RiverMeadow to rapidly scale-out whether it is geographic, feature or hypervisor support.

RiverMeadow plans to add datacenters around the world over the next six months to address a broader, global market in partnership with VMware, Cisco, Ericsson and others.

The video below demonstrates the RiverMeadow Cloud Migration SaaS Web UI automating the migration of an ESX VM into a CloudStack environment:

“The cost and complexity of migrating virtual, physical or cloud-based servers into the cloud can be overwhelming — averaging thousands of dollars per server and man-months’ worth of operational effort,” said Mark Shirman, CEO, RiverMeadow.

“With the enhancements delivered in RiverMeadow Cloud Migration SaaS 2.0, we continue to remove the barriers of entry for just a fraction of the cost and without the operational headaches, so organizations can immediately gain the economic and practical benefits of cloud computing,” he added.

Here is more information on RiverMeadow Cloud Migration SaaS.

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Cloud Cloud News Hosting Interviews News Start-Ups Technology

“We Make it Easy, Fast and Economical for SMBs to Move to the Cloud”- Steve Zimba, Mural

Cloud has of late been marketed heavily as the panacea to every potential business problem. Lured by the ease-of-use and agility moving to the cloud brings in the business processes, SMBs are very eager to buy cloud services. This creates an enormous opportunity for service providers in the market, and they try to exploit it very aggressively. Only, it’s not as easy as it seems.

Most SMBs find cutting through the fog and hype surrounding the cloud very difficult and struggle to get to grips with the new concept. They’re intrigued by the cloud, but also confused and wary of it. Moving to the cloud involves a very large, expensive and difficult set of problems, and SMBs simply don’t have the skill, resources and most importantly, time to understand every nuance and permutation of the whole process. Even if they buy into it, dealing with the technical issues that come with migrating to the cloud is too uphill a task for them, and they simply end up abdicating the services they bought.

This is where a little more effort needs to be put in by the service providers. A vast majority of SMBs qualify as, and are staffed with, IT novices. When they try to adapt to a new technology, they need help and guidance. However, providing constant quality support is a laborious and time-intensive process, which most service provides are not adept enough to provide.

This is where customer on-boarding platforms and services provider Mural steps in. It works with service providers and small businesses in tandem to accelerate the cloud implementation process.

Steve Zimba, President of Mural, spoke to us at length on how Mural educates SMBs about the cloud and helps them relieve the pain points they most often experience. Support is however a very small subset of the services that Mural provides. Read away as Steve talks about the rest of them.

As we on-board customers, we work to capture deeper profile information about them and we reach a point where we actually understand a lot more about the service provider’s customers than the service provider does, and we use that data to work with the service providers on product planning, engagement programs and up-selling activities.

– Steve Zimba, Presiden, Mural.

Steve Zimba, President, Mural
Steve Zimba, President, Mural.

Q: Let’s begin with a broad overview of Mural and the entire ecosystem of solutions it provides.

A: We see that a lot of SMBs want to move from traditional IT into the cloud, and they clearly see the benefits of doing so, and they don’t feel that there is any risk or downside of moving to the cloud. However, they find it very difficult to make the move. They lack the internal IT skills, and frankly they don’t have a lot of time.

We at Mural work with SMBs, and help make it easy, fast and economical for them to move to the Cloud. We provide our Platform MaaX and integrate our on-boarding capabilities to a cloud or managed IT service provider’s offerings.

As an example, a service provider selling a Hosted Exchange solution to a small business also adds on our on-boarding services. After the customer buys Hosted Exchange, we take over and help them migrate. We move all the data, set up all the clients, software, service configurations and we also do all the end user training, on-boarding and adoption.

Q: Many SMBs have a multitude of concerns related to the costs of moving to the cloud, flexibility and data safety. Since you happen to be in the Cloud Industry since long and provide customers with end to end cloud service implementation platforms now, can you tell us some of the most common concerns you come across?

A:I think over time we are actually encountering very few concerns. If you were to look back just a couple of years, some of the main concerns SMBs had about moving to the cloud were around security, reliability etc.

Now SMBs are concerned with having to upgrade or change their existing technologies because a lot of them are quickly becoming outdated. With all the promotions and expansions in the cloud capabilities, communications, collaborations, security, backups, servers etc., what we’re finding is that the SMBs now don’t really care about some of the concerns they might have had in the past, and frankly, they are just ready to get to the cloud and their biggest concern is – “who can help me get there because I don’t have the skills internally to be able to do it myself.”

Q: Do you think that there is a significant lack of awareness in the industry regarding the role post-sales customer support plays in customer retention?

A:Since we are working with service providers of all shapes and sizes, we come across two different approaches.

Some service providers give a very basic customer service, they help SMBs figure out how to get moved over and give them a little bit of direction, via knowledge base, instructional documentations etc., but in the end SMBs are pretty much on their own to get everything set up and working for them. Most of the SMBs contract an IT guy who they think can help them, and that IT resource takes a lot of time, costs a lot of money, and finally he or she either doesn’t get the job done or doesn’t get it done the right way. This is where they throw their hands up in the air and say -“you know what, real nice that we bought it but we can’t get it up and running so we’re quitting,” and they drop the service and the service provider never ends up making any money off them. So this approach has poor activation rates.

Second scenario we often see is that service providers try to do what we do. They offer support and on-boarding but theydon’t have the right platform and resources needed, and they’re not properly trained and certified to do so, hence they make at least one, two or maybe three attempts at it and they fail.

In both scenarios, this is where they contact us and say – “this is what you guys specialize in, you do this day in and day out in a uniform way, so we’ll just work with you on it.” This is one of the main reasons why our business has grown so fast.

Q: Can you tell us the whole modus-operandi of Platform MaaX ,as in how exactly it helps cloud and managed IT providers maximize customer engagement, drive growth, reduce churn, increase future sales etc.?

A:The platform is made up of several components.

The first major components are our programs. We’ve developed very unique programs for:

  • on-boarding customers for cloud services,
  • educating customers on how to use and manage those cloud services,
  • and helping service providers up-sell the same customers through additional cloud services.

When we go to market with a service provider partner, we bring all three of those programs to create a full life-cycle experience for customers.

The second component we have are methods. We’ve invested significantly to create very specific workflows, dialogues and scripts, which are unique to individual cloud products, and are used on a repetitive basis to on-board customers to cloud service with all set-ups done, data migrated and end-user training completed.

The third components are our tools. We have invested in several applications, like an ‘activation scheduler’ which enables end-customers to schedule their activation appointment. We have a very elaborate workforce management system which aligns people who have the right skills to the right appointments. We have remote log-in tools which allow us to take control of the end-user devices and to do their configurations for them. We also have data migration tools, advanced multi-mode communications, customer interaction tracking etc. So our investment in these tools and platforms is pretty significant from the customer interaction point of view.

Beyond that, we also have our Analytics platform. As we on-board customers, we work to capture deeper profile information about them and we reach a point where we actually understand a lot more about the service provider’s customers than the service provider does, and we use that data to work with the service providers on product planning, engagement programs and up-selling activities.

The last piece is our content platform where we have a really rich, user-centric knowledge base that any of the users who’re on-boarding can access and learn about the services and how to use them better. We have also built a lot of sales and marketing content that our service provider partners can use to position their solutions in the marketplace effectively and try to drive demand creation for them.

Q: What are some of the cloud services that Facilitated Adoption supports as of now?

A:It’s a board range of services. To name a few, we do Microsoft Hosted Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Office 365, WebEx, Mozy, McAfee, Symantec, Asigra, GoMobi etc., and we’re constantly adding more services. We just recently launched on-boarding services for Infrastructure as a service(IaaS) with one of our partners. We are also beginning to look into on-boarding services for Desktop-as-a-Service, which we think will be a really big opportunity for us.

Q: And earlier this year you launched Mural’s Parallels APS package too.

A: Yes, now we are part of the Parallels marketplace and ecosystem. We have done two implementations with Parallels so far and through that we have developed our Parallels APS package. Now anybody can just install the APS package from the Parallels marketplace, integrate our on-boarding service with their product catalogue, and quickly get it up and running.

Q: Can you tell us how EduSelling™ and Campaign of One™ help organizations up-sell and cross-sell their products and how Hypus™, Knowus™, and Relatus™ complement these marketing platforms?

A:EduSelling and Campaign of One are our core up-selling programs. After bringing customers through our Facilitated Adoption and Onboarding, we collect and profile their data, which we put through our up-selling programs. We do up-selling right at the point of activation. For instance, through our activation process, SMBs become pretty open with us about their other needs, and if we happen to have immediate solutions for some of those through our other partners, we try to add those on to the initial sale at the point of activation.

We also run a whole series of educational programs like email campaigns, landing pages, webinars and even events, where we take our educational approach to the market, and teach the SMBs about what other cloud services they could be taking advantage of, and through that we continue to collect more and more profile data. We mine that profile data to the point where we see a point of interest, which we call the ‘Interest code’. Once we see the interest codes we make a concerted pitch and offer that customer one of our partners’ products.

Q: What is the process that you go through to recruit quality workforce at Mural’s Customer Experience (CX) Lab?

A:We’ve built a training certification program. We pride ourselves on providing a customer experience rather than customer service. We are working to drive a certification for customer experience professionals throughout the industry. And we believe that we’ve created an industry leading program to do that. We’ve invested heavily in training and creating technical content.

We’ve also developed pretty unique profiles for the different types of people that we recruit, with respect to their skill sets and backgrounds. We tend to focus on hiring college kids who’re either in an IT profession or are seeking an education to enter the IT profession, and who ‘get’ the cloud and really understand it.

So we are sticking to combinations of hiring profiles together with our training certification program to create a whole generation of customer experience professionals in the marketplace, who can on-board and up-sell customers in an innovative, helpful way.

Q: Let’s talk about the recent case study you published on how a big telecommunication company in the United States implemented Mural’s Facilitated Adoption™ platform to reduce churn rate and increase activation rate.

A:Yes, they’re a large US Telco who sells a bundle of SMB Cloud services together with their voice and broadband services. We handle the on-boarding work for all of the Cloud services in that bundle, like Microsoft Hosted Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, data backup, security, web hosting, and web commerce services, for about 5,000 SMBs every month at this point, and we’ve had some great results.

The early focus with this partner was on churn reduction. They had a problem, where they were selling the bundle to a lot of customers but nobody was activating the services. Shortly thereafter they were seeing a very high churn rate, because the customers thought that since they were buying something, they’ll get a whole lot of help getting it up and running, and when they didn’t, they just left.

So mission ONE was to get that churn under control and drive up the activation rates. We’ve seen great results, their customer churn has decreased by up to 80 percent, the activation rates have gone up over 200%, and interestingly enough, the support costs have also gone way down.

What we found is that if we set the customer up right to begin with and get their services up and running, they don’t need to call the help desk.

Also, we just recently started our up-selling campaign with them, and we are currently up-selling to about 40 percent of the customers that come for activation, and we are driving about a 20 percent uplift in ARPU from the original sale. Our Net Promoter Score (NPS) on that activation activity is over 80.

We’re very encouraged by the early results of the up-selling program and we are going to do a lot more as we go forward.

Q: What are some of the developments at Mural we can look forward to in the coming months?

A: We are in deep discussions with our first couple of partners regarding some exciting opportunities and I certainly hope that together we will make news about that soon.

We are looking to expand into Asia-Pac and Europe. We are also continuing to invest heavily in the platform and I think you will hear more about extended capabilities in the Analytics area and the Content area soon.

Also, traditionally we have been offering our service as a turnkey managed service out of our operations facility in Tucson, but we have just signed our first licensing deal, where we are licensing our platform to another provider. We’ll be training and certifying all the staff of that provider to deliver the customer experience just like we do out of our center in Tucson. So we think the licensing side of our business is one that’s going to grow quite a bit.

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Cloud Cloud News Hosted Cloud Apps Hosting Innovation New Products News Partnership Technology

CloudVelocity Releases One Hybrid Cloud software; Raises $13 Million in Series B Funding

CloudVelocity today announced release of its One Hybrid Cloud software that enables enterprises to accelerate cloud adoption and makes AWS a secure and seamless extension of enterprise data centers.

CloudVelocity has also announced that it has closed $13 million in Series B funding, bringing the total raised to $18 million, in a funding round led by Third Point Ventures, along with the participation of Pelion Venture Partners and previous investor Mayfield Fund.

“We are excited to have Third Point Ventures and Pelion Venture Partners join Mayfield Fund as investors, as we work together to address the massive market opportunity in enterprise cloud computing,” said Rajeev Chawla, Chief Executive Officer, CloudVelocity.

With today’s launch of One Hybrid Cloud, we are significantly reducing the amount of manual processes, risks and expenses otherwise required to deploy robust enterprise data center apps into the cloud. – Rajeev Chawla, CEO, CloudVelocity.
Rajeev Chawla, CEO, Cloud Velocity

CloudVelocity plans to use the funding to further accelerate its roadmap and growth.

One Hybrid Cloud software

One Hybrid Cloud software lets enterprises run their existing and new Linux and Windows multi-tier and multi-system apps without modification in the AWS cloud.

One Hybrid Cloud software automate dozens of complex manual cloud migration processes that are a substantial barrier to cloud adoption for several enterprise apps.

It automates the entire set of processes required to establish a production-grade hybrid cloud environment, including:

  • Discovery and dependency mapping of application services.
  • Cloud provisioning and deployment.
  • Cloud-optimized synchronization and storage.
  • Extension of authentication and security services such as LDAP and Active Directory from the data center into public cloud environments.
  • Single “pane of glass” control across sites and clouds.

One Hybrid Cloud software reduces cloud migration risks and expenses by more than 90% for multi-tier apps. Critical authentication and security-related services are also extended into the cloud from the data center.

The cloud pre-production and production environments are virtually identical with One Hybrid Cloud software, thereby minimizing errors and reducing development cycles as software is updated and pushed live. The cloud then becomes an ideal disaster recovery and DevTest option for enterprise apps, says the official press release.

This enable customers to leverage the cloud as needed, instead of having to build and support duplicate apps and infrastructure for the possibility of occasional use.

“Until today, cloud migration and cloud-enabled disaster recovery have not been viable for the vast majority of enterprise data center apps,” said Rajeev Chawla, Chief Executive Officer, CloudVelocity.

“With today’s launch of One Hybrid Cloud, we are significantly reducing the amount of manual processes, risks and expenses otherwise required to deploy robust enterprise data center apps into the cloud,” he added.

Here is more information on CloudVelocity’s One Hybrid Cloud Software.

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NTT Communications Plans to Launch On-premises Connection, an SDN-based Cloud Migration Service

NTT Communications Corporation plans to launch  the ‘On-premises Connection’, world’s first software-defined networking (SDN)-based cloud migration service. The service will launched on July 28 in Japan and  later in other markets worldwide.

On-premises Connection service will connect  customer on-premises systems with NTT Com’s Enterprise Cloud via the Internet using SDN technology to facilitate smooth, flexible transitions to the cloud.

The SDN technology has been developed by NTT Com in partnership with VMware, and a research institute operated by parent NTT Corporation.

Some of the key features of the new service are:

  • The new service will substantially reduce the workload  required to design and configure on-premises networks by connecting on-premises systems and cloud in the same network segment using SDN-compatible gateway equipment installed in the customer’s system.
  • Customers can use the existing IP addresses of their on-premises systems post-migration to the cloud environment.
  • Highly secure, encrypted data can be transferred between on-premises systems and Enterprise Cloud via the Internet at up to 100 Mbps.
  • Customers can make changes like adjusting bandwidth to transfer large data in off-peak hours very promptly using the SDN technology.
  • Existing Internet connection lines can be used for cloud migration by the customers.
  • Payment for the service, including gateway equipment, is on a per-day basis. This on-demand use helps to minimize the cost of cloud migration. because

The pricing details of the On-premises Connection are:

  • The initial cost of installing gateway equipment at the customer’s site is 220,000 yen.
  • The daily charge is 10,800 yen.
  • The maximum monthly charge has is 223,000 yen.
  • Internet connection from on-premises systems and two fixed global IP addresses for gateway equipment are charged separately.

For more information, click here.

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Cloud Migration of Mission Critical Application Approaching Rapidly

DAILYHOSTNEWS, January 17, 2012 – Eighty per cent of EMEA IT decision makers say they would move mission critical applications to the cloud within the next two to five years.

By the end of 2012 a majority of organizations believe between 20 and 30 per cent of their IT delivery will be by private or public cloud.

And within three years three quarters of respondents expect that between one quarter and one half of their IT delivery will be by public and private cloud.

More than 60 percent of IT decision makers within EMEA based utilities, financial services and public sector organizations are planning to use the cloud to radically alter customer, citizen and employee interaction in terms of instant access to information, hp said.

The survey was across 10 markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa around IT trends in the financial services, utilities and public sector.
Security is the number one consideration for cloud followed by automation.

Nearly six out of ten of respondents across all industries say the lack of understanding about hybrid cloud represents the greatest potential barrier to adoption of cloud computing for their organization and are seeking advice.

Respondents said they view IT as a profit center for their organization.

The research was conducted by Coleman Parkes for HP across 10 markets in EMEA: UK, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Russia, Czech Republic, Netherlands, South Africa and the Middle East.  The number of respondents was 940.

HP is pushing its Enterprise Cloud Services for public and private cloud and has a series of workshops offering cloud migration information.