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End to End Networks' Blair says that his company began providing managed services 20 years ago, before the model even begun to gain momentum. One of the first initiatives was to begin the development of the company's own network portal that supports management of professional services around network design, security, help desk and technical support.
"All of our customers' networks and hardware talks to our management system in our private cloud," he said.
Although some partners preferred to select ready-made cloud or managed services platforms from a variety of sources, such as Continuum, HP, Kaseya, IBM, Level Platforms, Microsoft, Red Hat or VMware, Blair says that building his company's from scratch enabled End to End Networks to establish a highly customized platform.
"Building it was no more arduous and expensive than trying to take an out-of-the-box solution and fit it to the needs of our customers and ourselves," he said. "We'd been through a couple of attempts with standard product sets, but they never really worked the way we needed them to work. So we ended up building our own, and it's got everything integrated, including monitoring, notification, trouble ticketing, network maps, asset management, etc. And the features are all connected, which enables us to do a lot of other things with that data."
End to End also has its own channel partners that resell the company's offerings.
"We position our services as a means of bundling the entire value proposition into a turnkey solution," he said. "The channel partner can put in the circuits, the hardware, and can white label the whole thing, if they so choose."
Other partners prefer a partnering approach to business transformation that runs counter to developing management platforms and channel alliances. Gregg Pruett, general manager of CompuNet, Inc., a Meridian, Idaho-based channel company, is currently in the midst of transitioning from traditional resale to a cloud-based model.
"We are not going to build a cloud ourselves, but we're going to work with cloud builders and resell their offerings," he said. "We spent six months analyzing strategies for building our own cloud offering, but as we scrutinize the economics, we realized we could not come up with numbers that work. We could not get enough customers in our area to make the investment worthwhile. Yes, there is the management layer, but you also have to have extensive security, orchestration, some level of self-service and, of course, billing infrastructure that needs to be virtually bulletproof in terms of usage and accuracy."