Not Just an Off-the-Shelf Cloud Solution

DC West was formed through the acquisition of Perth ICT Provider HGAIT in 2009. The company offers a variety of technology driven products and solutions to clients Australia-wide. Not only does DC West understand data centres but their team also understands development and critical support.

DC West’s highest priorities are to guarantee complete service uptime and to ensure excellent end user support. In 2015 they chose CloudSigma as their strategic cloud partner and launched their first cloud in early 2016 – in Perth, Western Australia. The success of the first cloud empowered DC West to launch a second Australian cloud in Melbourne allowing the extension of coverage to include the Eastern coast of the Australia. DC West and CloudSigma are looking forward to make their cloud offering the preferred choice for their end users.

“I’d highly recommend the Cloud-as-a-Service offering of CloudSigma to any local data centre provider who wants to differentiate themselves from other “off-the-shelf” cloud providers. With an international cloud provider like CloudSigma by our side, we are in a very strong position to succeed in the cloud space.”Paul Arch, CEO & founder @ DC West

The Challenge

Over the years DC West has maintained internal virtual infrastructure through a variety of technologies, from ESX to XEN and to KVM more recently. This served both their internal and external requirements for the provisioning of hosting to customers. However, none of these systems could provide the level of flexibility, performance and ease of use which DC West required. In recent years the cloud market and end users’ demands have further developed. DC West realized that the solution which they were providing was not satisfactory and started rethinking their cloud strategy. As a result they began looking for a solution that they could rely on for a wide range of cloud infrastructure requirements.

“Our infrastructure was challenging to say the least; putting it all together when it comes to storage and compute, it was a bit of a mash. The customers and the market demand for cloud motivated us to look for alternatives. Then we met CloudSigma.”

DC West was aware of other cloud technologies which were more off-the-shelf products. Yet, the majority of the cloud vendors providing these products were offering cloud software licenses instead of complete cloud infrastructure solutions that offered a service management aspect. This did not satisfy DC West’s vision because they were keen on finding a market differentiator which could drive the success of their cloud investment. They required a solution that would provide them an entire set of cloud infrastructure capabilities and related operational support rather than just a bare license.

With that in mind, DC West engaged with CloudSigma as their strategic partner in Australia. Having worked out the strategy to enter the market, both companies began their actual cooperation.

The Solution

The actual work on the deployment began with the physical installation of the cloud, which took place in the beginning of 2016. DC West appreciated the approach of CloudSigma to the partnership and the division of responsibilities between the two companies. CloudSigma provides all of the operational support and the expertise regarding the cloud platform that DC West requires. This allows DC West to benefit from closer collaboration and has become a competitive advantage for them. DC West can fully rely on CloudSigma’s experience and ongoing support and hence focus on the development of close business partnerships and customers deals.

“If we had chosen another cloud vendor, there would have been no real market differentiator between us and potential market competitors. This is why the alternatives were not attractive to us. We knew of other off-the-shelf cloud solutions but what led us to the CloudSigma solution is that it is a fully managed solution, not just a software platform we could buy.”Paul Arch, CEO & founder @ DC West

Up until DC West and CloudSigma started working on the deployment of the Australian cloud, DC West used to be the sole administrator of the infrastructure they were running. However, this was about to change with the proposed partnership model as CloudSigma took full responsibility of the management of the cloud platform, both the
underlying infrastructure and the software stack. The great professionalism and approach of CloudSigma did not leave any space for concerns and strengthened DC West’ s confidence in the success of the service.

“The idea of a having a completely managed cloud platform was a very interesting proposition. CloudSigma and their expertise gave us the confidence to expand into this space.“

During the deployment of the cloud, the CloudSigma operations team outperformed the expectations of DC West who were supervising the process.

“The installation process was great because all we needed to do was to provide the hardware and the connectivity and then to hand it all off to CloudSigma engineers. We went through a hardware burn-in period, after that we initially setup the networking side of things to establish external access. Lastly, we went through the process of ironing out a couple of small local market specifics. There was nothing that CloudSigma was incapable of doing and all tasks were completed perfectly and completely remotely. The handover process was quite smooth too.”

Putting the technical perspective aside, the CaaS partnership is also about cooperation on the commercial front which is equally important to achieving success. The sales and marketing teams of both companies aligned their skills and experience in order to create a successful strategy. DC West recognised the expertise in CloudSigma’s team with respect to providing direct feedback and updates on customer acquisition and user service satisfaction. That in turn allowed DC West to work out their next steps regarding market positioning and business development using an agile approach.

Unlike the sales and marketing process, the area of end user billing required a brief learning period but overall the process went smoothly and the various aspects were illuminated. The tasks related to the management of customer accounts are all handled pragmatically because of the CaaS revenue share model. The revenue share between
CloudSigma and DC West was a new concept to DC West and has been positive in outcome.

The Change

Following the introductory period and the successful launch of the cloud, DC West and CloudSigma have focused on the performance of the cloud service and the enhancement of their partnership. DC West enjoys the freedom which the end-to-end support CloudSigma is enabling. On the business side they are able to work on customer development and promotion of the service in Australia. On the technical side DC West is always up to date with the various operational developments. In cases of potential maintenance, networking issues or a requirement for hardware replacement, the CloudSigma operations team has been very proactive in finding a resolution.

“Performance is excellent. The service is also pretty good, and if we measure it by uptime – uptime has always been there. We always get very positive feedback from customers in regard to the speed of the VMs. We have done benchmarking ourselves against Softlayer, AWS, and Rackspace, and CloudSigma always comes first in terms of performance. In short, it has all been extremely positive on the performance side.”Paul Arch, CEO & founder @ DC West

“The operations team of CloudSigma has been working quite well. In fact, it is great not to have to stress about the management of the hardware. Basically, we just get a notification if we have to change a drive out and that is as complex as it gets from our side. This gives us the opportunity to focus more on selling the cloud and building the business case for customers. Indeed, this frees up our resources to focus on what is important. We allow CloudSigma to do what they are good at and CloudSigma allows us to do what we are good at, which is providing solutions for customers.”

Fortunately, DC West has not experienced any service impacting issues for the cloud location to date. Since the launch of the cloud in early 2016 there have not been any operational issues. Uptime is consistent and performance is high. DC West states that the coordination between them and CloudSigma is great.

The fast servers and stability of the platform are a must but there are other elements of a public cloud service which are among the mostly appreciated advantages of the CloudSigma cloud in Australia. One of them is the user interface which customers consider very user friendly. Additionally, the speed of bringing up VMs is a stand out aspect.

“The front-end management and the ability to quickly spin up VMs always receive positive feedback. The speed of the storage is also mentioned by customers as an advantage. The fact that there is 24/7 technical support is another winning proposition for customers.”Paul Arch, CEO & founder @ DC West

Last but not least, DC West mentions that CloudSigma’s technical support is doing an outstanding job. The customers who have dealt with them indicate that the team is highly responsive and are able to resolve customer problems and requests in a very short span of time.

“Support has been good. It is either ourselves or the end users communicating with the team directly. In most cases, if anything arises as an issue, it gets resolved. When they find a specific problem such as a bug, the CloudSigma team is very fast in handling that.”

Having elaborated on the advantages of the CloudSigma service it makes sense to find out how the partnership between DC West and CloudSigma has affected their business strategy and growth.

The Future

The decision of DC West to choose the CaaS solution has had a measurable impact on the company’s cloud strategy and revenues. In the beginning when DC West wanted to launch their first cloud together with Cloudsigma they set up a new company to provide these cloud solutions.

“We set up a specific entity for cloud solutions so the launch of the cloud was a new standalone adventure without a centralized environment. We were confident that with our strong value proposition on the market and the gradual movement towards cloud solutions, this company entity would be offering cloud services independently.”

“We were only about 12 months into the Perth cloud deployment and we already launched a second cloud. I think that this is going to be a good year and Melbourne will be a very interesting market because there is a lot more competition geographically compared to the Western Australian market.”Paul Arch, CEO & founder @ DC West

With respect to the growth of revenue, DC West has seen such a positive trend that it gave them the confidence to invest in a second cloud location less than a year after the initial Perth location. Their ambition to enter a bigger and more competitive market is backed up by CloudSigma’s service support. The fact that both companies have been running a cloud together was critical during the deployment of the second cloud. The process turned out to be even more streamlined because DC West and CloudSigma had already gone through the integration and due diligence process in terms of the local market requirements, such as currency integration on the platform.

The Australian market is pretty localized. DC West is based on the West coast in Perth and the customers in Perth tend to select location service providers. Melbourne or Sydney are geographically remote so it makes sense to have a cloud location on the East coast to better service that market. As part of their expansion strategy, DC West is utilizing a network of partners to promote the Melbourne cloud to customers with Melbourne-specific requirements.

“It will be interesting getting our channel partners to take up the cloud and figure out how we can market the service together. We did not do any market research about Melbourne initially because we knew enough from our experience on the market throughout the years how things would develop there. The cloud in Perth is successful and we think that it would be even more successful in Melbourne.”

Looking to the future DC West and CloudSigma continue to develop joint strategies around both new locations, new partners and new go-to-market strategies to build revenue together.

About Yoanna Savova

Yoanna is a Strategic Partnership Developer at CloudSigma leading company's efforts in the direction of Cloud-as-a-Service and expanding CloudSigma's horizons. Yoanna is passionate about new technologies, dancing and sports.

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