Cosentry, Having Recently Added Google Cloud Backup, Strikes Microsoft Azure Partnership

With its hybrid cloud business heating up, Midwestern MSP Cosentry is expanding its reach into the public cloud through a new partnership with Microsoft, the company's CEO told CRN on Wednesday.

The regional managed services provider that operates nine data centers, primarily serving five Midwest markets, started offering hosted Microsoft Azure resources to customers this week. The deal comes less than two months after Cosentry struck a partnership with Geminare to deliver Google's new Nearline data storage service.

Cosentry CEO Brad Hokamp told CRN that public cloud components are becoming vital for MSPs to complete a portfolio of cloud capabilities that can be leveraged to form hybrid solutions of the kind customers are demanding.

[Related: Cosentry Introduces New Security, Compliance Tools]

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And since Cosentry, based in Omaha, Neb., has supported Microsoft's software suite for 14 years, the move to Azure is just a natural evolution. "We see it as another capability in conjunction with the capabilities we offer as a full-service provider," Hokamp said.

The benefits of those capabilities offered by Azure and Google Cloud Platform are becoming more apparent to customers, he said.

"They need to turn up, turn down resources, be a little more agile," Hokamp told CRN. "But the key message here is that Cosentry is managing that overall, from the infrastructure to the software pieces."

Craig Hurley, vice president of product management at Cosentry, said there's been a lot of attention around "hyper-scalers" -- large public clouds like Google, Azure and AWS -- and a lot of focus in the media about their frequent price reductions.

"We definitely see some customers who are leveraging those providers, they have a lot of workloads with Amazon with Azure and with other providers," Hurley said. "But what a lot of them are looking for is additional management on top of those platforms."

While recently released first-quarter earnings reports have demonstrated the tremendous growth of public cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft's Azure, the challenge for solution providers is increasingly finding ways to add value to those platforms.

"We see CIOs looking to maintain some kind of governance, to pool their spend into a single billing, a single account. They don’t have the resources and time to learn all these disparate platforms," said Hurley.

"A company like Cosentry can provide that level of expertise, where we can basically become an extension of corporate IT," Hurley told CRN. "That's where I think the market is going in terms of service providers like ourselves, that we're able to provide additional value on top of the infrastructure itself. That's where the conversation is going today."

And while public cloud -- through the partnerships with Microsoft and Google -- will now play a significant role in Cosentry's product offerings, those services will always remain just one part of an integrated set of solutions, said Hokamp.

Public clouds present many of the same challenges to business users as a traditional data center environment -- the customer is left on its own in managing those resources.

That's why "where we also see a huge demand, the bigger growth area, is hybrid clouds. The mix of private cloud with some of the public cloud elements for test and development, DR. That’s our customer conversation that's going on," Cosentry's CEO told CRN.

And that's where the channel can excel, he said.