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October 17, 2014updated 21 Oct 2016 4:00pm

From technology to business outcomes – changing a data centre firm

Q+A: Pulsant is a UK data centre and services firm that is rapidly evolving its business model. CBR spoke with Matt Lovell, CTO.

By Sam

CBR: What is your market position?
ML: Our typical sweet spot for users would be 25-1000 user type organisation though that doesn’t preclude us working with 1000-50,000 users who are already among our customers.

Firmly positioned in the mid-market to enterprise space as a business platform IT services provider delivered from collocation and high capacity network nodes across the UK. In addition we provide managed outcomes and cloud outcomes as part of an expanding portfolio that generate business value. Companies use us to expand, reach new markets, or develop new propositions.

The infrastructure and platform fabric is that on which we build our services. Whether that be in a managed service or managed hosting outcome that can sit anywhere in the fabric across multiple sites to give diversity and redundancy with higher availability for the applications. The applications can sit on those platforms or through the cloud as we can offer various cloud flavours that reflect actual customer business requirement. As well as that we work with partners to help them deliver SAAS to an end to end outcome that is SLA based for their customer base.

CBR: What is in a typical end-user RFP and how has it changed in the last 12 months?
ML: The typical RFP has changed significantly over the last 12 months. To us, they are coming and saying ‘I have a range of requirements.’

‘I have a hybrid set of requirements. I have some elements of legacy, whether that is managed on premise or through legacy systems or I have these elements of managed service because I don’t have the skills.’

So they may say I need it completely managed or I need you to report in the same way as I already generate as I transfer to a cloud platform. Or it could be purely an infrastructure requirement. We supply a professional services play to take the customer on their journey from where they are today onto to their cloud of choice. Thereafter they may manage it themselves or they may have requirements around security or high performance with which we will assist them from a management point of view. But they put that in to one SLA and one management provider and that is typically Pulsant.

CBR: Is this a significant development in business model?
ML: I think we are seeing a significant transformation in the sector and the organisation. We are very much more business focused than technically only focused. We are very focused on business value creation which is built around enabling IT infrastructure for our customers so they can create value to their end users.
They derive value based on the managed infrastructure that we deliver. All the use cases enhance that proposition and we look at the areas we can add value in such as professional services for an international expansion use case or for example we can offer deeper analytics to enhance their proposition. All of those elements are coming together.

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CBR: What’s the partner ecosystem and your position in it.
ML: We’ve seen exciting maturity in the last 12 months. Partnership and integration is in other cloud providers such as Amazon, Microsoft or Rackspace and others. Giving customers choice to scale as they want with interfaces built on private secure connections.

The Saas providers are genuinely looking to partner, especially where their outcome is dependent on the infrastructure and the platform. Whether that is reaching into regulated markets that require compliance and accreditation or using data to help optimise their application and the application performance. We’re seeing great traction in that market.

CBR: How is the business model maturing – from a transparency perspective.
ML: The integration of orchestration and automation of cloud. Customers are less concerned about the technical building blocks of the infrastructure and the platform and they are looking at getting a deeper understanding of how they are using the platform. They want to see how their environments are performing on the platform – not just using reports, but analytical data and support and nurturing that because they don’t always have the skills to do this. We’re working on continual improvement – to ensure the cloud platform is performing to the requirements of the business.

CBR: What is the capital structure of the company?
ML: We are PE funded. Majority stakeholders are Oak Hill Partners, Scottish Equity and the management team. Oak Hill has great experience in driving businesses such as Pulsant and we’re working on creating a 3 -5 year vision of where we’re going. We’re a £50m turnover business this year and we’ll be see that growth significantly.

CBR: Describe the infrastructure.
ML: We have 200 staff across the UK. We operate a fabric of ten UK data centres and six points of presence as well as a backbone network – that is owned by us that it dark fiber 10GBPS. We’re interconnected through London and out to Slough through Equinix as well as internationally to the US, New York, Boston and Dallas to Amsterdam and out to Hong Kong.

CBR: What’s next:
ML: We’re building out the business value proposition across cloud, colo and managed networks. We see most development from our customers in the cloud portfolio so we’ve got a major investment in cloud orchestration and cloud automation and the optimisation of technology. We’re working on helping create greater value with the technology itself.
We’ve got a major investment programme in sales enablement and skills in the areas of technology and analytics. We see our business as being about getting closer to the customers.

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