The Doyle Report: ClearCenter Looks to Upend Status Quo and Redefine Channel Business Models with Open Source Offerings
ClearCenter, an Orem, Utah, developer of open source software tools and marketplace offerings, is hoping to upend status quo in technology and redefine channel business models with new open source offerings.
This bid is getting a big boost this week at the HPE Discover 2017 event underway in Las Vegas. On Monday June 5, ClearCenter unveiled a deal with HPE to preinstall ClearOS technology on specific HPE servers. This includes the new Gen10 MicroServer, which was showcased at Discover 2017.
The new MicroServer is a sub $500 server that was developed with in conjunction with HPE, chipmaker AMD and ClearCenter. It has the promise of shaking up the server market like few product introductions have in recent years.
As for ClearCenter, the company’s partnership with HPE amounts to a big move. ClearCenter believes it has cracked the code for simplifying technology deployment for small and medium-sized business (SMBs). With ClearOS and HPE’s new ProLiant servers, partners and customers no longer have to source their ransomware protection, firewalls, server features, content filtering and more from a variety of vendors.
“With ClearOS and just one HPE server, all of those IT needs can be consolidated,” says ClearCenter CEO Michael Proper. In addition, Proper adds, they can also be made more manageable and secure. In a 1:1 interview, Proper outlines his thinking and company’s new momentum. For those unfamiliar with Proper, here’s some background.
Proper was one of the first in the industry to create a purpose-built, managed services provider when he launched DirectPointe in 2000. After building DirectPointe into one of the industry’s largest MSPs, Proper wondered what he could do in the software market. In particular, he saw an opportunity to build a company that provided tools to managed services providers.
Michael Proper, CEO, ClearCenter
In 2009, Proper launched ClearCenter after leaving DirectPointe the year before. At the time, Proper recognized that there was a shortage of tools that service providers could use to build robust, next generation IT deployments. Specifically, he saw waste and overlap in the proprietary stacks of Microsoft, Cisco, Sonic Wall and others. With each of these, you had to deploy different operating systems, hardware platforms, directories and more just to build a single system.
Open Source, Proper says, offers a different value proposition. With open source, you can build similar functionality around a single software stack, directory and hardware platform. With that in mind, ClearCenter acquired both Point Clark Networks and its ClarkConnect Linux distribution in 2009, which formed the foundation of the ClearOS and ClearBOX technology.
“After asking the right questions, we found that you can actually get all of the same outcomes that people got in the closed-source world with open source technology,” says Proper. “The end user doesn’t care what’s on the back end. They just want to know that everything is secure, portable and simple.”
In 2011, Proper moved his family to New Zealand and oversaw the development of the ClearCenter Marketplace, which was completed in 2013. It features more than 100 apps and services for intrusion detection, packet prioritization, backup and more. Together with the company’s ClearOS and ClearVM technology, it provides a single platform that has the promise to redefine what small business computing can be for both end customers and the service providers that cater to them, says Proper.
“Open source enables service providers to develop new business models that offer customers lower prices and more technology flexibility, while resulting in higher profitability for themselves,” says Proper.
Looking ahead, ClearCenter will soon launch a new certification program designed to help what it calls “hybrid service providers.” These are companies that deliver a combination of traditional on-premise, managed services and off-premise cloud-based solutions. As a former MSP, Proper says he understand first-hand the challenges of working in both worlds.
“Those VARs or MSPs that don’t make the jump to a hybrid services business will be competing on the old margins and old numbers, and they will lose out,” he says.
But those that embrace the ClearCenter vision of the future will have a competitive edge, he insists.