Month: May 2014

From ISP to MSP: a brief history of Claranet

Working in the Internet industry is never dull. The rapid pace of change is relentless, with new technologies, new competitors and new customers appearing on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. Every so often though, it’s good to stop and think about where you’ve come from and how much progress you’ve made over the years.

Last week Claranet won ‘Managed Services Provider of the Year’ at the Data Centre Solutions Awards. Winning awards is always nice, but this one was particularly good because it was based on independent votes from the industry, our customers and other people and organisations. I’ve also just started my 9th year working for Claranet, so these two things combined made me stop and think about the Claranet I joined compared with the Claranet I continue to enjoy working for today.

When I joined in 2006, Claranet was well known in the industry as a pioneering Internet Service Provider (ISP), particularly for Claranet’s flat rate dial up Internet access. Sometimes I speak with people who still have the perception that Claranet is solely a provider of internet access for individuals and small businesses. In reality we offer much more, but this traditional customer group of individuals and small businesses, who take connectivity (and some other small scale services), are still catered for, though this arm of the business operates under the name of Claranet SOHO (Small Office & Home).

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Give your network a sporting chance this summer

This summer sees a number of high profile sporting events taking place, from the Fifa World Cup which kicks off in just under a month, to Wimbledon, right the way through to the Ryder Cup in September. While there are those who follow sport keenly every summer, the World Cup is an event that draws in football fans and non-football fans alike, and that means more people trying to stream and keep up to date with every goal, dribble, and moment of drama.

We’ve seen a number of requests from organisations bracing themselves for the impact this will no doubt have on their network, with many IT departments facing up to the inevitable fact that many of their users will (often against corporate IT policy) be using services like Sky Go and BBC iPlayer across multiple devices to keep up to the minute on their favourite sports.

So how do you ensure that this extra traffic doesn’t end up slowing your mission critical applications and processes down?

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Informed consumers: how IT decision makers best leverage MSPs to optimise their IT strategy

In order to optimise their IT strategy, IT decision makers need to learn three things: firstly, generally they can’t accomplish everything they’d like using only in-house resource, secondly, they need to understand what services an MSP (Managed Services Provider) can offer, and thirdly they need to view their chosen MSP as a trusted partner for the relationship to be as fruitful as possible. If you manage to do all of these things, you become an informed consumer, and your organisation will benefit because the IT strategy supporting it will be stable, flexible, future proof and cost efficient.

By leveraging the expertise of an MSP, IT decision makers not only have access to an extended operational IT team who can take away some of the rigmarole of ‘keeping the lights on’, but also, they gain access to a consultative partner who can guide their business through the process of cloud adoption, migration, and work with them to develop technology roadmaps for the future.

The great thing about becoming an informed consumer is that you begin to understand the benefits of working with an MSP, by getting to see the processes which underpin their results. This in turn allows you to contextualise the monitoring data provided by an MSP and take these insights back to other areas of your business. It is of utmost importance that an MSP helps you in this process, by guiding and transparently showcasing its inner workings, keeping you in control.

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Claranet wins ‘Managed Services Provider of the Year’ at Data Centre Solutions Awards 2014

Claranet was named Managed Services Provider of the Year at the DCS Awards 2014 last night (15th May 2014). The award reinforces Claranet’s position as the leading independent MSP in the UK & Europe.

The DCS Awards were established to recognise product designers, manufacturers, suppliers and providers operating in the data centre arena. Now in their 4th year, the Awards have gone from strength-to-strength, recognising the achievements of IT vendors and their business partners alike.

The MSP of the Year category was one of the most contested categories of these awards, and Claranet fought off strong competition. A two-stage judging process saw entries first assessed by a panel of industry experts, before being shortlisted for a public vote.

Michel Robert, Managing Director at Claranet, said: “This award is a significant win for us and recognises the investment we have made over the last few years – in our people, in best-practice processes and in technology – to ensure we are meeting our customers’ requirements and market need. We have worked hard to drive the business forward, innovate our services and expand our product offering. So we are delighted to have won this award, and would like to thank the judging panel and all those who voted for us.”

In addition to winning the Managed Services Provider of the Year award (DCS Awards 2014), Claranet also recently won the Best Customer Service Strategy award at the SVC Awards 2013, and was a Finalist in the Quality Service Provider of the Year award at the UK Customer Satisfaction awards 2014, which are run by the Institute of Customer Service.

A cost-first approach may be stifling the channel’s cloud revenues, warns Claranet

Shift required to drive home true ROI of adopting cloud services

The channel’s emphasis on cost-savings rather than the broader benefits of cloud, risks turning off potential customers. Concerns were voiced at Claranet’s partner seminar last month – that although businesses, particularly SMEs, are alive to the opportunities posed by cloud, they shy away when it comes to cost. Unless resellers can drive home the messages about the true ROI of cloud they will continue to fall at this hurdle, Claranet warns today.

Simon Bearne, Sales Director at Claranet, says that the gulf between the channel’s perception of the primary selling points of cloud and those reported by end-users, must be closed if resellers are to drive their sales of cloud services:

Rather than leading with cost-savings, which in fact do not always materialise, resellers should focus on the benefits that cloud brings, which end-users say they are actively looking for: flexibility, scalability and agility. These areas can all potentially be measured, and the challenge for the channel in 2014 is to help end-users understand these wider benefits, and to help them evaluate these in building their case for adopting cloud services, as well as to measure their ROI post-migration.”

Research from the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) supports the messages coming from Claranet and reveals a disconnect between the channel and end-users when it comes to drivers for cloud adoption. When asked what they perceived the primary end-user motives for cloud to be, 65 per cent of resellers selected cost-savings compared to on-premises solutions, followed closely by a reduction in capital expenditure (48 per cent). This is, however, not supported by Claranet’s own research into adoption trends, which reveals that while cost is important, the primary reasons for adoption relate to flexibility (71 per cent), a need for scalability (66 per cent) and 24/7 service dependence (63 per cent).

Simon concludes:

The channel must better align their sales pitches with the needs and wants of end-users, clearly demonstrating the wider benefits of cloud services to help support the case for adoption. Costs are of course incredibly important, particularly for cash-strapped SMEs, but the benefits of cloud go far beyond the purse strings and reducing ROI calculations for cloud to cost alone doesn’t do it justice. There is a risk that potential customers will just not see the full picture of how cloud could benefit them.”

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Claranet acquires three new companies in period of rapid growth

Claranet has followed up its 2012 acquisitions of Star in the UK and Typhon in France with a wave of new acquisitions with three companies joining the Claranet Group in the last three months. Beginning in February Claranet acquired Echiron, a high-end managed hosting and applications provider in Portugal. This was followed by the acquisition of Grita, a specialist French hosting provider to the healthcare sector in March. Finally, in April Claranet acquired Dutch cloud services provider, NovaData.

Following these acquisitions Claranet has cemented its position as the largest provider of cloud services to the mid-market in Western Europe. Claranet Group will have annual revenues in excess of €160 million (£135 million), circa 800 employees, over 4,500 customers and operations in 6 European countries (France, UK, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain and Portugal). Part of Claranet’s ambitious growth strategy is to add additional operational capabilities in different market places.

Echiron was founded in 2000 and is based in Lisbon. It is recognised for its expertise in cloud, database and Microsoft & Oracle application management services. With offerings that complement and broaden Claranet’s existing service portfolio, Echiron is a natural partner for Claranet. Echiron has 90 customers across all industry sectors, including BMW Portugal, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (one of the largest private foundations in Europe) and SPMS (Portugal’s centralised health system administration body).

Grita, is a specialist provider of hosting services to the healthcare sector in France, and accredited with the French Ministry of Health’s HADS (Hébergeur Agrée de Données de Santé) certification for the hosting of private medical data. The HADS accreditation, combined with Claranet’s existing ISO 27001 and PCI-DSS certifications, makes the company one of the few hosting providers in France to have this set of key industry accreditations, and extends its reach into this fast-growing market segment. Since entering the healthcare and emerging e-pharmacy markets in 2010, Grita has become a leading player – with over 50 major customers in the sector, including Philips and Agfa.

The acquisition of NovaData, which has annual revenues of €7 million (£5.7 million), strengthens Claranet’s position as the leading provider of managed hosting and application management services in The Netherlands. Founded in 2008 and located in Eindhoven, NovaData is an IT services firm focused on mid-sized and large businesses and institutions. With a range of services that broaden and complement Claranet’s existing portfolio, NovaData is a natural partner for Claranet. It means that customers in the region will benefit from the expertise of both companies and from a combined and expanded services portfolio. NovaData’s customer base comes from a wide range of industry sectors such as healthcare, business services and manufacturing.

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