From Day Dreams to Drawings to Data Centres
Years ago, when Jay and I began dreaming up a managed services practice (MSP), we set some goals: we would take on the accountability of our clients for the IT portion of their long and short-term business strategy. It seemed a natural extension from our growing consulting practice; which has always been rooted in delivering the best TCO and ROI-based solutions. We took seriously the idea that our projects had to enable our clients to make bolder and more confident business decisions; growing their own businesses becoming more profitable. Selfishly, this made great sense for the long term success of ITW too. As or clients grow, they would need more services from us! Win-win, right?
Our MSP quickly gave rise to the IT Weapons Data Centre and our Cloud Computing services (back then we called it ”ITW Shared Services”). We created large pools of virtual computing resources in a high-availability facility to divvy up amongst our clients whose own infrastructure size and budget couldn’t justify a full-blooded data centre presence. The result was an enterprise-class system (with all the virtues of a feature-rich data centre) shared by companies that wouldn’t normally have access to the IT resources required for bold and scalable growth. Over the years we’ve added managed voice, security, automation, and business continuity solutions—including formal risk assessments, business impact assessments, and fully functioning alternate workspace facilities. And we try to add to our solution stack very carefully.
Like any good business should, each time ITW adds a new service it’s because we think we’ve found a hole in our industry’s market offerings that ITW is uniquely capable of filling. And to make sure our ideas aren’t out-to-lunch, we regularly visit with our client base to get feedback and gauge their interest/demand. Over the past year, we’ve been whiteboarding with our senior consulting team to flesh out where we can carve a new Weapon’s Grade presence in the Canadian IT industry; to plot a course to accomodate the evolving needs and wants of Canadian SMBs and enterprises. Like any really great insight, once you articulate it, it seems like commonsense; simple and reasonable.
We’ve got a pretty exciting development in store for our Data Centre and MSP offerings. Q1 of 2011 will see a triangle of tiered ITW Data Centres operating as one distributed facility around the GTA, as well as another high-end data centre coming online in Western Canada. The initial solution will offer fully managed servers and storage replicated to facilities 3000KMs away – independent of the Ontario power grid - all for a flat, predictable, reasonable monthly fee. The next phase of the solution will leverage the triangle of data centres. We will be able to hot-move a workload (server or desktop) between data centres in the GTA – all for a flat, predictable, reasonable monthly fee. What’s the point of the triangle?
First, the ‘tiered’ aspect of the triangle of data centres will allow us to provide data centre services at varying price levels. People need choice and flexibility if they want to make the best decisions for their business. This is all the more important as the industry trends toward outsourced Technology-as-a-Service.
Secondly, the governments and watchdogs are anticipating huge rate hikes for power over the next 5 years. This expense will definitely impact the data centre industry which is already an anomaly when it comes to ownership and operation; data centre space enjoys the dubious honour of being among the only aspects of IT that increases in cost as the technology evolves. The usual technology costing trend is the opposite (i.e. compare the cost of a laptop in 1995 and today). Providing tiered pricing for our MSP and Data Centre services means you’ll have a measure of power in responding to increasing power costs.
Relatedly, we want to accomodate clients whose operations are sensitive to the broader economic climate. For those who might go through hard times or cash flow restrictions, we will be able to migrate entire IT infrastructures from higher availability facilities (hence higher cost) to more cost effective facilities without significant disruption to their operations.
This is a very large investment for ITW, but we know we have to exhibit accountability up front for our clients; to help push our industry forward and help Canadian businesses stay on the cutting edge. Canadian companies need to be competitive when it comes to technology; and now, with a stronger dollar than 10 years ago, and with a growing trend towards a knowledge-based economy, The Great White North is no longer looked as a cheap alternative to business in the USA. ITW is going to continue to invest in the technology, the tools, and the talent to remain one of Canada’s most trusted and empowering IT companies; helping your business stay agile and resilient.
So, from drafting plans on napkins and airsick bags, to white boards and client workshops, this latest development will see 7 years of sweat (and a few tears) come to fruition in early 2011. If you would like to hear more, I’d love to share details in person … We’ll take the time to meet with you because this is our passion … and this is our shared future.
A long time MSP and Cloud client (Joe Haynes), IT & Communications Director at Kinark Child & Family Services, has trusted our team with his company’s infrastructure management (about 1100 users across 30 sites).
I asked Joe why he partners with us:
We’ve been with IT Weapons for over 10 years and the relationship we have with them is deeply important to Kinark; we trust them completely. Technology and the data decision support systems are a major cornerstone of Kinark’s Clinical Transformation, Financial Transformation and HR Transformation Projects, and IT Weapons is helping us get there. IT Weapons provides fully managed and hosted services for all our server, storage, networking, and security infrastructure. Their product expertise with Citrix, VMware, Cisco, and Microsoft has been invaluable over the years. They have a tremendous pool of talent for helping our team grow and managed the organization from a technology perspective. We don’t have to worry about sourcing expertise from different vendors for security, for networking, for application delivery; The IT Weapons team has the expertise to take care of nearly everything. And they do it incredibly well.
Perhaps my favourite thing to say about them is that IT Weapons is always sensitive to TCO and ROI. It’s very rare that I have a conversation with ITW about purchasing some new product or service and they don’t bring TCO and ROI considerations into the discussion. It’s tremendously helpful to deal with an IT partner that understands the business impact of the technology. Kinark is a not-for-profit organization, and as such, we are very concerned about the bottom line. We know we can trust IT Weapons, and that means a lot.