Feature Article: Don't Fear The Cloud
By Gennifer Biggs, Business Solutions magazine.
The response to hosted solutions via the cloud by some IT solutions providers has been a "the sky is falling" mentality. For others, cloud is simply another opportunity to sell something new, different, and valuable to both existing and new customers. For instance, Chris Metcalf, VP of marketing and sales for Total Tech International, a managed services provider (MSP), credits hosted solutions — those delivered via the cloud — for increasing Total Tech's sales to its managed services customers by 25%. Sound appealing? Metcalf has advice for you about picking the right hosted solutions and suggestions about what's coming next in this market.
Total Tech dove into hosted solutions when its own business needs forced a change in its communication solutions. "Our driver was internal; we were moving our office and researching new options for phone and email," explains Metcalf. The MSP was replacing a traditional PBX system augmented with a handful of Vonage accounts, as well as its email, which was hosted at the time by its Web hosting partner. After researching the options, the MSP chose a hosted voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) solution from a regional provider and hosted Exchange from Intermedia for its email.
Today, vetting hosted solutions at Total Tech still includes internal deployment, at least in a test environment. "As an MSP, we look more and more at hosted solutions, so we have a system for deploying those hosted solutions and testing them internally," says Metcalf. While Total Tech doesn't have a structured checklist, the MSP routinely starts the evaluation process by discussing a potential new hosted solution with its customers to gauge interest, reviews the financial implications of adding the new product, and then asks its engineers to review the product using online demos.