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Networking Unplugged

Perspectives on cloud networking and software-defined WANs

Posted August 13, 2015
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The MSP Opportunity-as-a-Service

Managed services have evolved to include everything from desktops to data centers, and from disaster recovery to application delivery. Regardless of the specific managed service, the benefits are similar: outsource extraneous or expert IT business functions to a specialist so that the organization can focus their resources on the essentials of running their business. Of course, other benefits include avoiding upfront capital costs, reducing human resource requirements and enabling a business to scale more efficiently.

Since our founding, Pertino has worked with a lot of small and medium businesses (SMBs) as well as managed service providers (MSPs). In doing so we have observed an interesting shift in thinking regarding how businesses want to make IT investments—away from infrastructure you buy and deploy (like hardware and software) and towards services you “rent” and readily consume. While consuming business applications in the form of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is now choice régulière for SMBs today, the same cannot be said for other IT infrastructure. From a MSP perspective, this opens the door to a host of new managed service opportunities that can be delivered as a service and have the potential to simultaneously increase revenues and operating margins.

IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS)

As a small business grows, it eventually reaches the point where the owner’s computer expertise is exhausted. Soon after, the “friend of the family” IT model no longer scales and the company is forced to staff an IT function. Thanks to SaaS and an increasingly tech-savvy workforce, this transition point is happening later in a company’s life, but it’s still inevitable. At Pertino, for example, we didn’t hire our first full-time IT professional until we reached 35 employees. Up to that point, we used a local MSP that served as our virtual IT team and we paid for their services on demand. They did everything from scoping our voice and data requirements, selecting the solutions to be deployed, and managing it all after the fact.

By its very nature, ITaaS is network dependent and requires an MSP to have constant network access and control in order to effectively provision, support and troubleshoot remote users and machines. One example of an MSP that has mastered ITaaS is Erickson Solutions Group (ESG) of Overland Park, Kansas. ESG utilizes Pertino’s Cloud Network Engine, a cloud-based network-as-a-service (NaaS) platform, to enable the delivery of a variety of turn-key IT infrastructure, service and support solutions to their customers, including managed network and desktop services, remote support and cloud-based computing and storage.

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

Thanks to public cloud service providers, like Amazon AWS, Rackspace and Azure, MSPs can bundle, extend and resell a wealth of different IaaS offerings, including computing, storage, Active Directory and disaster recovery. By combining IaaS with Pertino NaaS capabilities, MSPs can migrate a customer’s entire IT infrastructure to the cloud and deliver it as a managed service. Case in point: Erminger, a Chicago-based MSP and IT consulting firm, provides Pinstripes, a food and entertainment chain, with a solution that replaced their corporate file server and unreliable VPN access with a cloud-based server and remote access using Pertino. Now Pinstripes’ employees can access to critical files from anywhere with the same reliable LAN experience they’re used to in the office.

Recent mega-storms and wildfires have called attention to the need for businesses of all size to have an IT disaster recovery (DR) capability. This represents a boon for MSPs by leveraging low-cost cloud storage and Pertino’s on-demand networking capabilities to build a high-margin DR service that provides always-on replication and secure access to backup servers and data from anywhere. As evidence of Pertino’s value in this use case, Top Tier Capital Partners recently implemented Pertino to provide connectivity to their always-on DR resources for employees in the event of failover. Not only can they scale Pertino up and down at a moments notice, they also eliminated the extra hardware and extensive configuration and management that would be required with a traditional VPN solution.

Anything-as-a-Service (XaaS)

One of the most exciting opportunities for MSPs is anything-as-a-service or XaaS. Thanks to the advent of secure, cloud-based network services like Pertino, MSPs can provide managed services for a wide range of smart and connected devices. From digital signage to embedded OS-powered machines and kiosks, and Internet of Things applications, these devices represent a considerable security and management challenge.

For instance, Voicetech provides pharmacies throughout the US and Canada with a customer premise-based system that uses voice and data communications to assist the filling of prescriptions and customer service. However, managing and maintaining these Linux-based devices behind customer firewalls was proving to be a challenge. Voicetech solves this problem by connecting their remote devices to an always-on, always-connected Pertino virtual overlay network. Now they can provide real-time monitoring, management and support of devices from a central location, improving system uptime and security, and increasing customer satisfaction.

Another great example of XaaS in action is Innovative Exams, a provider of secure exam services. Their unique kiosk offerings enable remote proctoring of testing, allowing companies and individuals to complete exams from across the globe while ensuring the highest exam integrity. To manage their distributed infrastructure, they use a Pertino virtual overlay network with ADConnect to keep each remote kiosk always on their AD domain and provide real-time monitoring and support.

From an IoT perspective, Illinois-based GAD Group Technology has built their own service platform on top of Pertino to secure, manage and monitor the ever-growing number of smart and remote devices deployed within municipalities, such as street lights, parking and utility meters, and public wifi access routers.

The cloud and a shift towards the consumption economy is ushering in a massive opportunity for MSPs to grow revenues and increase operating margins. Pertino provides a cloud-based and software-defined NaaS platform that MSPs can use to enable and grow all of their ITaaS, IaaS and XaaS offerings. To learn more, go to pertino.com, fill out a partner inquiry form, or contact sales at (408) 354-3900.

Josh Grose

Josh Grose

Customer Advocate

Josh joined Pertino early on and has been helping enterprise customers unleash the potential of SDN and cloud networking ever since.

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