Colo Operator Digital Fortress Launches Managed Cloud Practice

Digital Fortress, the largest privately held colocation provider in the Pacific Northwest, on Wednesday made a pivot toward offering managed cloud services by partnering with the world's two leading clouds.

As the Seattle-based company saw more and more customers hoping to leverage multi-cloud environments, it realized it could bring to market a unique hybrid solution, integrating management of Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure services with the bare-metal infrastructure it hosts in its two data centers, CEO Matt Gerber told CRN.

"Most of our midmarket customers are either looking at or trying to find a way to absorb cloud into their infrastructure portfolio," Gerber told CRN. But those customers also want to maintain the applications they have running in the single-tenant colocation environment.

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That demand from "midmarket companies that can't keep up with the pace of change at AWS and Azure" prompted Digital Fortress, founded in 2012, to launch its new Hybrid Infrastructure Management Service.

The offering includes enterprise-grade support capabilities of the sort that midmarket companies often struggle to access, such as a network operations center that operates around the clock.

The Hybrid Infrastructure Management Service offers real-time monitoring of system health and performance to support operating systems, databases, storage and computing resources. And engagements begin with reviews of the customer's IT environment, followed by design, configuration, testing, and development of management policies and procedures, according to Gerber.

Driving the new product and business model is an emerging trend toward multi-vendor environments that's starting to trickle into the midmarket.

Gerber sees a couple of factors behind that evolution of the IT landscape.

"First and foremost, people are concerned about lock-in," he said. "Whether you're an enterprise or SMB, you want portability."

Businesses have long thought of IT infrastructure as a commodity, he added, "and people want to view it as a commodity and buy it as a commodity."

The second reason businesses are increasingly adopting multi-cloud environments, he said, is that the public cloud market has matured to the point of significant differentiation in feature sets. Some providers are better suited for some workloads than others.

"There are features unique to AWS and Azure and the private cloud guys," Gerber said.