CRN's Next-Gen 250 list offers a snapshot of the channel's up-and-comers: young solution provider companies that focus on new business models and are zeroing in on lucrative and emerging technologies, among them cloud computing, mobility, virtualization, unified communications, business analytics and business intelligence.
Here we take a closer look at three of our Next-Gen 250 solution providers who are taking advantage of the mobility revolution and offering integration and services on top of mobile platforms.
Ceryx: Head In The Clouds, Feet In Mobility
Cost-efficiency: It’s one of the main reasons why companies engage IT solution providers, and a main driver for cloud solutions. Cloud computing can help IT solution providers reduce customer costs and increase efficiencies. For example, according to research from the Carbon Disclosure Project, a typical food and beverage firm transitioning its human resources applications from dedicated IT to a public cloud can achieve a net present value of $10.1 million during five years with a payback period of less than a year.
Next-Gen solution provider Ceryx helps customers gain that competitive edge via the cloud.
“Ceryx helps enterprises gain the efficiencies of cloud computing without giving up the control of an on-premise solution,” said Paul D. Engels, executive vice president, Ceryx sales and marketing. The company focuses on cloud-based messaging and collaboration targeting large enterprises; although it specializes in Microsoft Exchange/SharePoint/Lync, Ceryx adds complementary best-of-breed products from other vendors.
Formerly known as 800onemail, the company changed its name to Ceryx in October 2004. (Ceryx was founded in 2001 and is based in Toronto, Canada.)The solution provider is a managed services company specializing in unified communications, offering Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, Office Communications Server (OCS), advanced security and archiving solutions. Ceryx’s key differentiators include its platform flexibility to meet complex or changing client needs; broad integration options to interoperate with other solutions (such as mobility, security, IP voice, etc.); and powerful user control via its proprietary Cloud Control management environment.
Cloud Control is a SaaS platform that helps large enterprises leverage cloud-based technologies. The solution acts as a single point of administration across all of Ceryx’s solution components, lowering support costs by enabling delegated administration without sacrificing compliance, said Engels.
Among Ceryx’s offerings is its Private Dedicated Cloud solution, which is focused on enterprise security, reliability, flexibility and cost-effectiveness. The service is highly adaptable to meet today’s increasing demands for security, compliance, integration and data residency. Ceryx’s Private Managed Cloud is aimed at enterprises that have in-house infrastructure for Exchange, Lync and/or SharePoint but need to boost their operational efficiencies and reduce costs.
For customers with fewer than 3,000 employees, Ceryx has tailored Enterprise Multi-Tenant solutions to deliver cost efficiencies. Enterprise Multi-Tenant offers many of the same benefits associated with a private dedicated cloud solution.
“Ceryx further meets the sophisticated needs of large enterprises with a suite of integrated solutions offered by best-of-breed technologies in archiving and compliance, antivirus and antispam, mobility and unified messaging,” Engels said.
The company works with partners such as IBM and CompuCom. It serves several vertical markets, including health care, mining and resources, financial, retail, real estate, travel, automotive and manufacturing.
NEXT: BrightPlanIT: Securing the Mobile Workforce
BrightPlanIT: Securing The Mobile Workforce
Wireless use is increasing -- and its rise will likely continue for the next several years. According to figures from research firm NPD Group, the number of on-the-go broadband users is expected to grow from 6 million (the figure at the end of 2010), to 77 million by the close of 2015. That’s music to the ears of IT solution providers such as BrightPlanIT.
Buffalo, N.Y.-born BrightPlanIT was established in 2004. The IT solution provider is one of Microsoft’s most highly rated partners worldwide. BrightPlanIT builds security designs, designs and deploys e-commerce solutions and implements enterprise data centers in addition to providing training services. Because of the breadth of its offerings, the integrator hasn’t really seen a sales slowdown, said Skip Gould, BrightPlanIT president. As has been the case in the recent past, companies seem to favor hiring outside consultants rather than increasing -- or even maintaining -- staff.
For example, Gould has seen customers cut 20 members of their own development teams and then turn around and hire BrightPlanIT.
“They may need something perhaps less than full-time employees,” he said, noting that systems integration is only one competency his firm brings to the job.
“We’re integrators, but we’re also trainers. We provide training classes, along with real-world experience,” said Gould.
The ability to teach and integrate is central to BrightPlanIT’s success.
“We have the ability to look at a situation holistically,” said Gould. That expertise came into play at a law firm with two SharePoint systems on the same Dell platform. The firm was having difficulty with the public network going slower than the private one, something counterintuitive to the normal course of events. Despite what the customer believed were thorough investigations, no one could determine what was slowing down the public network.
“We looked at it and saw it was the network interface setting. A mismatch between two pieces of hardware.”
As mobility becomes a larger piece of the corporate IT landscape, IT management of mobile devices, such as iPads, other tablets and Android-powered smartphones, is becoming a greater share of business.
“We are moving from people saying, ‘I have a BlackBerry and I’m happy that’s secure,’ to their realization that the IT department has to support iPads, Windows Mobile, iPhones, etc. They want to know, ‘How can I ensure corporate security?’ ” Gould said.
And in a world in which employees use their own personal gadgetry for business, the challenge becomes greater: “One solution is the private OS plus virtualized business desktop, in which the two do not touch each other. With mobile, the company might say, ‘These are the only sanctioned devices. If you want to use corporate resources, you need to make some compromises, including multiple boots -- one personal and one private.’ ”
NEXT: Trigon: Creating True-Blue Customers Among SMBsTrigon: Creating True-Blue Customers Among SMBs
Loyal customers are the backbone of a successful IT solution provider. After all, finding new customers is pricey. Frederick F. Reichheld famously wrote in “The Loyalty Effect: The Hidden Force Behind Growth, Profits and Lasting Value,” that the cost of acquiring new customers is five times the cost of servicing established ones. But for Trigon, that’s just the way business is done. Said co-founder Michael DeThomas: “We have 100 percent client retention.”
That’s impressive, especially during such uncertain economic times. But it’s that very climate in which Trigon thrives. “Solid technical management can cut key asset costs and provide return on investment,” said DeThomas.
Although the company started off servicing very large enterprise customers, within a few years DeThomas and co-founder Salvatore DeRose realized they could trade in their frequent flyer miles for some time at home by offering small to midsize customers the same services they’d been providing to enterprises. In January 2003, Trigon was founded by DeRose and DeThomas in partnership with Goldenberg Rosenthal, LLC. In June 2003, Trigon became incorporated; DeRose and DeThomas acquired Trigon in a 2007 management buyout.
Trigon was started to help bring the business and technology requirements being used in Fortune 50 companies to SMB companies, affordably.
“Our client base of the global Fortune 50 had the same needs as the midsize market. Traditional providers were not meeting those needs,” DeThomas said. Today, the company has clients in all 50 states, and they range in size from 200 to 500 employees, from $400 million to $1 billion. Although those customers may have varied core competencies, such as finance or manufacturing, DeThomas noted that each has an ever-increasing need for security, and often find that outsourcing IT is cost-effective and efficient.“Our customers need consistency and cost-efficiency more than in-house staff,” he said. “We can look and see the nature and history of the problem and assess a company’s liability quickly. … We can tell within days, not weeks, what the liability is.”
Today’s mobility trend has not only brought ease of use and on-the-go accessibility, but also IT management headaches, including security challenges.
“iPads are a hard device to secure because they don’t natively support security. We’ve had to come up with some creative solutions so that the whole planet isn’t privy to customers’ sales information,” DeThomas said.
Sometimes what’s old is new again, he added, pointing to the resurgence of the centralized computing model. Remember grid computing? “It’s old stuff, but behind all the cloud computing is a mainframe,” he said. “And thinner apps will drive the trend to thinner clients.”