Cloud provider Zynstra has come out of stealth mode with a platform that enables service providers to deliver a complete managed IT infrastructure for small to medium enterprises (SMEs), for a modest monthly fee comparable to the cost of a mobile phone contract.
Available now through Zynstra partners such as Easynet and voxclever, the platform offers customers one or more HP ProLiant servers preconfigured with services such as Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint, file storage and more, all of which are managed remotely for them by the service provider.
Zynstra chief executive Nick East told V3 that the company has focused on a different approach for delivering IT to SMEs, which often lack an IT department or the expertise to build and operate their own infrastructure.
"We've taken a hybrid cloud approach and made it relevant and affordable for SMEs. The thinking behind it is to make sure they can get data and applications with the security, performance and control that they want. They can run it on their own premises behind the firewall and combine it with any IT services they might want to use from the public cloud as well," he said.
Instead of simply offering a scaled-down version of big enterprise infrastructure, Zynstra has tried to adopt a standardised approach using preconfigured and tested builds of applications and services.
The platform is essentially a "mini private cloud", according to East. It uses the Xen hypervisor to operate each application and service the customer requires inside its own separate virtual machine.
Depending on requirements, this can include a Windows server acting as Domain Controller for Active Directory services, file storage virtual appliances, Exchange email server, SharePoint instances for collaboration, and applications such as Sage accounting software. Linux and open-source software can also be supported.
"The service provider should be able to recommend whether you are better running something on premise, or whether it would be more cost effective to link to the public cloud for something like Office 365 email, and they will be able to provide that integration as well," East said.
Meanwhile, common to all deployments are security tools including firewall and anti-malware functions, plus automatic backup of all customer data.
Zynstra said it has developed its own management tools that allow service providers to manage and update the customer infrastructure non-intrusively and without causing any interruption of service.
"All updates are pre-tested before being deployed, and the service provider can spin up a new virtual machine then switch it with the live instance once it is up and running," East said.
Pricing for the Zynstra service will depend on the configuration, and also whether the provider packages extras around it such as an IT helpdesk service, according to East. However, it is likely to cost in the region of "tens of pounds per user per month", he added.
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