Virtual data centres called a Made in Canada solution to data residency issues

IT services and solutions provider Compugen of Richmond Hill, Ont. has signed on as the first channel partner of ThinkOn, a Toronto-based provider of infrastructure-as-a-services (IaaS) solutions that has launched what it is calling Canada’s first Virtual Data Centre solution.

ThinkOn says its Virtual Data Centre is a cloud-based service built on enterprise-class infrastructure, although it’s targeted at the mid-market as well as enterprise customers. A key selling point, however, appears to be data sovereignty. With servers located in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec, and with the company based and wholly-owned within Canada, organizations can be assured their data will remain in Canada and compliant with all Canadian privacy and regulatory rules said Craig McLellan, ThinkOn’s founder and CEO.

ThinkOn is also relying on the channel for its go to market. McLellan said ThinkOn’s goal was to build a high-value solution with low complexity, so partners can add as much value as they want on top.

“We think the Canadian market is grossly underserved,” said McLellan. “There’s no shortage of people offering managed services or outsourcing, but not ready to manage and consume IaaS.”

Unlike a traditional IaaS solution, which mimics how people used to buy servers, McLellan said ThinkOn is selling a pool of resources, paying for those resources only when used. Customers can create their own virtual data centre on demand, with whatever combination of compute, storage and network resources they need as resources to provision servers, appliances or data stores for their business. Pre-configured resources can be provisioned from ThinkOn’s service catalogue or the customer’s own software licenses.

The virtual data centres reside in a multi-tenant cloud, but McLellan said there is “absolute 100 per cent segregation” between each virtual data centre. The virtual infrastructure allows for higher efficiency and faster provisioning, he added.

“We don’t oversubscribe our infrastructure, so you don’t need to worry about Customer A overwhelming the infrastructure and rendering Customer B inoperable,” said Mclellan.

Compugen president and CEO Harry Zarek said they’ve signed up with ThinkOn because their virtual data centres can be a key part of a Made in Canada cloud strategy that answers customer anxieties about data sovereignty.

“It’s really designed for mid-commercial and large enterprise accounts, and it’s part of what we call a holistic cloud strategy that lines up well with our lines of business in the Canadian marketplace,” said Zarek.

Compugen sees bringing the solution to market in three ways: straight resale, embedded into its own managed services offerings, and as a burst-up option for private cloud customers that need more resources at times.

While there’s other players in this space, Zarek said ThinkOn is one of the few that really understands and values the channel, and has the right model in place. They’ll be selling through the channel, he said, not competing with the channel.

“Many cloud providers truly don’t understand our side of the business … they think build it and they will come, when the reality is organizations such as ours have deep relationships with customers,” said Zarek. “The agent model is a non-starter.”

With ThinkOn, the partner owns the relationship and handles the invoicing, paying a price and charging the customer whatever they feel appropriate.

In addition to being built on a Canadian data centre, rendering concerns about data sovereignty mute, Zarek said he also likes the way ThinkOn has architected their solution to make it easy for partners to layer it onto their own managed services offering. Compugen plans to begin by building ThinkOn into its backup and business continuity service, and will add other services in the future.

On the hardware side, ThinkOn has opted to put Hitachi Unified Storage and Hitachi Content Platform at the heart of its virtual data centre offering. Peter Kriparos, regional manager for Canadian channels and alliances with Hitachi Data Systems, said ThinkOn’s approach is unique in several ways.

“One is ThinkOn’s commitment to the channel and how they’re going to market with a 100 per cent channel model; I haven’t seen that level of consistency from any provider I’m aware of,” said Kriparos. “Also, their ability to go to market and provide just a few, but customizable solutions. We like the simplicity accept of this as well.”

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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