The Australian cloud provider that’s going to be on your side
Today’s IT departments must enable the business to function at its best. Our role as IT professionals is to empower a stable and hopefully expanding business – one that’s able to weather the ups and downs of the economy, navigate changes in demand, stay legally compliant and be as safe as possible from modern security threats.
At the end of the day, Australian businesses are so different from one another, there’s no perfect IT setup for all of them. Take the cloud, for example. Despite the hype about companies “stampeding to the cloud”, the reality for most businesses is the cloud isn’t a one size fits all solution. Each company sports a pretty individual mix of platforms; Various private clouds, some on-premise hardware, and an array of offsite as-a-service offerings. There’s a lot to consider, including the differences between platform and infrastructure-as-a-service, and between the various cloud providers in the market.
For Australian companies, the cloud gets even more complex when you consider that help, support, and billing are usually based on a different continent. Home-grown cloud and service providers tend to be niche specialists: a company might be able to help you with a specific application or offsite backup and cold storage but not be able to host production systems, for example.
The Missing Link, an Aussie company that provides enterprise-grade cloud services (and plenty more, too) that are tailored for each of its customers, is bucking the trend. We recently grabbed some time with Ashley Steadman and Alana Burman Reynard from The Missing Link to see why companies should think twice about signing away their livelihoods to hyperscalers. We began by talking about the next generation of The Missing Link’s SmartCLOUD offering.
SmartCLOUD isn’t a silver bullet cloud solution. Instead, it was designed to be a piece of the puzzle in a multi-platform IT strategy. Ashley explains, “We always recommend that our customers consider a multi-platform approach for their IT environments. It’s about putting the right workload in the right place. There’s a business case for all three things: private cloud, public cloud and on-premise.”
There’s a big difference between offering a bespoke service from a menu of existing offerings from the big players, and owning data centre real estate that offers private cloud tenancies specifically for each client. The Missing Link doesn’t white-label a hyperscaler or distributor’s offering and sell it on with a markup. The underlying infrastructure is owned and designed by the Australian company (it’s been around for over 25 years), and it has long partnerships for storage, virtualisation and hyperconvergence tech.
Alana Burman-Reynard told us, “It didn’t start as something else and end up being a private cloud. It’s purpose-built and what it’s built on is best of breed. It’s not white box hardware. We’ve worked with our partner Dell to use the best hyperconverged infrastructure that’s available, and we just recently got our VMware Cloud Verified ‘badge’. We give the customer assurance that they’re getting a partner validated by VMware to deliver cloud infrastructure with the latest and best products for compute, storage and networking. So it’s helping our clients future-proof their choice.”
Working with the de facto suppliers of virtualised servers brings advantages above cast-iron reliability. IT teams will already be aware of VMware administration consoles and terminology, and it’s one of those companies that’s constantly pushing the envelope.
Billing is a hot potato when you work with hyperscale cloud providers, of course. Supporting the peaks and troughs of IT workloads is all part of IT provision, but the end-of-month lottery that is a hyperscaler bill is something that every CTO has had to play. And it’s not often pleasant.
“I really think this stems from the fact that public cloud bills are really complex. They’re hard to understand, and they often include things like data egress or transaction costs which are, to be honest, impossible to estimate up front.” Ashley says.
The complexity of billing behind a hyperscaler’s cloud platform makes cost estimation difficult and cost savings near impossible to identify. Steadman told us, “From our perspective, we’re trying to keep the billing very straightforward. We’re more down-to-earth; The Missing Link has a quality, personalised service and we can thoroughly understand customers’ needs. We still offer things like 5-minute billing increments, but our bills are simpler, and there are no hidden charges. This helps us provide expertise that will optimise cloud spend, whether that’s shutting things down overnight or right-sizing virtual servers – those kinds of things.”
The “Smart” in SmartCLOUD does not refer to a closed box proprietary code base – it’s smart in the sense of a smart choice for your business. The Missing Link is an Aussie company, and their engineers, support staff, consultants and architects are based locally. Alana says, “We understand the unique needs of an Australian business. We’re also billing Australian dollars, so you’re not subject to exchange rate fluctuations. That means it’s easier to predict costs. The price won’t be different from day to day depending on exchange rates (they’ve been wildly changing of late!).”
Data governance issues are also ramping up: hosting data in the US is rapidly becoming a no-go for many companies in Australia and the EU. “We only have data centres in Australia; there’s no way your data is leaving Australian shores,” Alana said.
Big tech companies are always very happy to accept any business’s money, but in every case, that’s where the transaction ends. You simply won’t get objective advice from a partner who only offers a hyperscaler’s cloud solutions, for instance, about whether Azure or on-premise is the way to go. Ask any hyperscale sales rep about automation or backup strategy, and an answer (if one comes at all) won’t be particularly objective. But every decision and choice in a modern IT stack influences everything else, and no choice can be taken in isolation (which RPA methodology might suit, for example). There are teams at The Missing Link that are right across all the issues facing Australia’s IT departments. There are, as Ashley said, “A lot of complementary things that we can do.”
Any company considering its infrastructure, be that multi-cloud or hybrid has many plates to spin, so using an enterprise-grade local company that sees the bigger picture and looks beyond monthly billing cycles is a smart choice. The Missing Link’s SmartCLOUD is likely just the beginning of your IT improvement journey, and it’s shaping up to be more practical and approachable than the hyperscale options. Reach out to The Missing Link to find out more.
- Stylish move: data fabric gives enterprises the edge over siloed alternatives
- Migrating banking’s core to the cloud: a thorny issue no more?
- Digitally Enabled Real Estate Starts With Simplifying Your Networks
- The future of commerce: How some popular brands are leading their sectors with the MACH approach
- Going cashless: A mandate for the post pandemic world?