Fibre Channel Essential For CRM
Integrator Rush Creek's customers in the telecommunications industry need networks that can handle large amounts of data, voice, and video information. This requires broadband communications tools and high-capacity storage solutions. Having those tools and solutions is a must for CRM (customer relationship management).
Our customers are experiencing difficult times," said Mike St. John, president of systems integrator Rush Creek Solutions (Littleton, CO). "We've got to have a velocity mentality to address our customers' business challenges." Many of Rush Creek's customers are both large and small companies in the telecommunications industry. To help these customers deal with their need for higher capacity and band-width, St. John plans to add two new revenue streams this year. These are CRM (customer relationship management) and ASP (application service provider) services.
Rush Creek provides broadband technology and Fibre Channel storage solutions to its customers everything involved with pipes and capacity. "Whether it's data, voice, or video, everyone wants to reach the customer," said St. John. This has sparked Rush Creek's newest venture into the CRM market. "We need to be able to ask our customers what they know about their customers. We've developed a customer-facing methodology," said St. John.
In 1975, Tony St. John started BPI (Littleton, CO) with the goal of earning enough money to put his three kids through college. Back then, St. John and two employees sold calculators and typewriters. Recently, BPI changed its name to Rush Creek. It employs almost 300 people and has six revenue streams. These are engineering, project management, life cycle services, staffing, and broadband services. Broadband moves multiple channels of data over a single communications medium, like Fibre Channel. These include data, voice, and video for Rush Creek's customers. Its newest revenue stream is a CRM (customer relationship management) solution called Customer@Net.
Tony St. John retired 12 years ago, and his son, Mike, now steers business strategy as president of the company. Within a few years, St. John intends on making Rush Creek, currently a $40 million company, into a $100 million, national, integrated technology services organization.
Forward Thinking Spawns CRM Market Entry
"We began developing our CRM solution, Customer@Net, over two years ago," said Kevin Dooley, VP of strategic markets and communication. "Our customers asked for alternatives to the traditional data center build out and support we had traditionally provided." Rush Creek's customers wanted to reduce expenses and still take advantage of new technologies that would provide increased scalability and redundancy in mission-critical environments. The emergence of IP (Internet protocol)-based applications created a platform that enabled Rush Creek to host data centers on behalf of its clients. Communication infrastructure build out by companies like Level 3 and Qwest was also a contributing factor. At the same time, companies were recognizing the opportunity to better understand and market to their customers through e-business initiatives. CRM strategies were emerging as a top priority for Rush Creek's clients.
Broadband And CRM Applications Demand Fibre Channel Storage
Rush Creek provides a spectrum of storage solutions: RAID (redundant array of independent disks), tape, optical, SAN (storage area network), and NAS (network attached storage).
"In the storage arena, we're working with Fibre Channel products from companies like EMC, Brocade, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, Compaq, and Crossroads," said St. John. "We have developed highly manageable, redundant storage solutions for our customers."
"QStar's Data Director software allows us to manage optical, disk, and tape subsystems as a single storage entity. Data is automatically stored on the most appropriate media for its historic use. This keeps the fastest media available for the most highly accessed critical data," said Dooley.
Rush Creek's next venture will be into the ASP environment. In an ASP, the high costs of storage are spread across many hosts accessing the same storage systems. For an ASP to function, Fibre Channel technology is necessary. According to the FCIA (Fibre Channel Industry Association) Fibre Channel's ability to use a technology for storage, networks, audio/video, or to move raw data is superior to the common frame feature.
With more data streaming across the Internet, raw storage capacity is increasing at a rate of 80% per year, according to IDC. Wolfgang Schlichting, research manager for IDC, said the game is to exploit "nearly free" storage capacity. By 2003, a GB will cost about the same as a pair of movie tickets (cost is dropping 40% per year).
"Never lead with hardware," said St. John. "Our customers demand execution and accountability. When we become involved with their business plans and customer bases, those things become highly visible." That kind of thinking was the catalyst that remade BPI, a typewriter and calculator reseller, into Rush Creek, a systems integrator providing broadband and Fibre Channel storage solutions.
Questions about this article? E-mail the author at AnnD@corrypub.com.