Above: John Simon, Vice President of Business Development from Cirrus9.
Editor’s note: By now, it’s fair to say most people have heard of “the cloud”. It was one of those buzzwords a few years ago that you couldn’t escape. Today, there’s no doubt that “the cloud” has become a part of daily life for many people. Whether it’s how email is managed and stored through consumer services like Gmail or iCloud, or through managed services companies like Saint John-headquartered Cirrus9 – the cloud is everywhere. I spoke with John Simon, Vice President of Business Development from Cirrus9, and he told me about their product offering, what’s trending in Big Data (Hadoop Data Cluster, anyone?) and how a business in Brick Park has found a niche next to Google and Microsoft.
Cirrus9, established in 2010, is a cloud hosting and managed services company. Now, what is cloud hosting and managed services, you might ask? Well, it’s providing much of the mission critical IT infrastructure that businesses increasingly rely on a daily basis. Cirrus9 offers application-hosting, data backup, and disaster recovery services from 2 highly available, high security data centres in New Brunswick together with services to help customers move their applications and data to the cloud.
The cloud computing and managed services industry is highly fragmented, and while Cirrus9 is a large player in Atlantic Canada, they’re small when compared against the big guys; we’re talking Amazon, Google, and Microsoft.
But according to Simon, Cirrus9 isn’t looking to compete directly with these behemoths, and their self-service models. Rather, Cirrus9 focuses on providing custom services, creating lasting partnerships and helping clients implement business agility and IT security solutions that will benefit them now, and well into the future.
“We see ourselves as more a partner than simply a service provider,” says Simon. “We think it’s important for our customers to migrate to the cloud at their own pace. Part of that transition means ensuring our customers only pay for the applications that they need, instead of taking on services they don’t need and shouldn’t be paying for.”
Just as important as the custom piece of their business is ensuring customers know that the backbone of the services, the two data centres owned by Cirrus9, deliver a highly secure, functional, scalable and redundant platform for their applications and data. In fact – ensuring that their service is continuously available is always top of mind. In addition to ensuring that all of their equipment is evergreen (they replace equipment on a regular cycle), developing additional strength with their data centres is a strategic vision for them.
“We’re planning to launch a third data centre outside Atlantic Canada,” says Simon. “It’s important to us that we have geographic diversity for our cloud network, and also for our clients. The third centre will provide additional business continuity protection and will help us accelerate growth in another large markets.”
When Simon touches on Cirrus9’s growth he can’t help but refer back to the services from the likes of Amazon and Microsoft, among others. “Our growth strategy isn’t about beating the big guys at their own game,” he says. “The cloud computing industry is predicted to continue growing at a rapid pace. I think the big guys are going to continue to get a lot bigger, but our continued success will come in the form of specialization in certain business verticals.”
For Cirrus9, that means continuing to build their brand and reputation by building on and communicating their core strengths in specific sectors including: transportation, ICT, energy, government and financial services.
“It’s not about chasing the shiny pennies, it’s about working on our expertise,” says Simon. “For example, we are very serious about security and recently upgraded our PCI DSS (payment card industry data security standard) certification. We’re now certified at level 1, the highest in the industry. This enables us to deal with customers or solution providers who are handling large volumes of payment card transactions. Getting a laser focus on specific areas is really how we’re going to continue to set ourselves apart and build credibility in the industry and in the minds of our customers – current and new.”
In addition to doubling down on their expertise in key verticals, Simon notes that investing in the future of Big Data and The Internet of Things is paramount to ensuring their customers have the ability to not only use Cirrus9 for their data centre needs – but also so they can actually analyze and use the large volumes of data that are being collected.
“We’ve invested in the infrastructure for a Hadoop Data Cluster,” says Simon. “That’s a platform for analyzing Big Data – which is something we’re offering to our customers. This is a tool that will allow our customers to really look at their data and maybe fine-tune their own products and services, to gain better insights into the factors that are impacting their business.”
For companies looking to move into Brick Park, having this type of service right here in the heart of the city means that they don’t have to undertake the expense of purchasing equipment and hiring staff to service and support that infrastructure. Having a local partner – one that is ready and more than able to handle many aspects of IT infrastructure service and on-call support is one more benefit to working in a city as connected as Saint John.