As Data Storage Evolves, So Do MSPs
Storage, perhaps unlike any other aspect of IT, tells the story of the evolving managed services industry. To see that thesis in action, look no further than Warren Averett (WA) Technology Group, which landed at No. 149 in the 2018 Channel Futures MSP 501 rankings.
WA employs more than 800 people in 15 offices and is one of the largest accounting and advisory firms in the Southeast. As such, its IT storage acumen needs to be a high priority. What follows is a story of adaptation in a constantly evolving industry.
WA’s beginnings were steeped in traditional on-site systems. When its first private data center opened four years ago, it had two racks. That grew to seven. Soon, the needs of its customers convinced the Birmingham, Alabama-based company to open its own private data center.
“We had a large wholesale client with multiple locations that needed an off-premises solution,” said Emily Jones, director of operations for WA.
The writing was on the wall: A private data center of its own was the best solution to secure client data.
But the platform switch presented challenges at first. She says it was hard to land on a pricing structure that hit the sweet spot every company wants: high enough to cover overhead costs, and low enough so as not to drive the client in search of less expensive options.
“The other aspect that was challenging was having to determine what pieces we needed when switching from a single-tenant to a multitenant environment,” Jones said.
Once a rhythm was established, WA began offering the solution to its other clients. It worked for a while. Then last summer, yet another platform change was looming. Destination: public cloud hosting.
The industry’s increasing reliance on cloud-based hosting services made WA’s move to the platform the next logical natural course of action. With traditional onsite IT solutions, companies are forced to allocate time and money both to mundane tasks and to maintaining legacy infrastructure.
The migration from the private data center to a cloud-based solution kicked off last July. The timing was right, and market conditions made it a common sense move; plus, WA’s data-center equipment was due to be replaced, so change was imminent either way.
“Due to different technological advances, coupled with the cost of maintaining equipment, it made sense to transition clients to cloud-computing platform,” said Jones.
In doing so, she said, the company was able to reduce capital expenditure.
But how would they explain the move to the clients? Actually, it was easy.
“We explained that with new advancements in cloud solutions, we can now provide them more flexibility and redundancy by migrating their data from the data center [to Microsoft Azure],” said Jones.
Today, WA is in the process of migrating all its clients over to the Microsoft platform. The company plans to completely discontinue the private data-center operation when that’s done. Jones sees good things ahead.
“We’re excited to see the positive impact that it will have on our clients as we move forward,” said Jones.
For WA, as in life, the only constant is change. And that’s OK with them.