Maxava Says HA Cloud Business Is Booming
November 19, 2012 Alex Woodie
The hosted high availability (HA) software business is taking off in a big way for Maxava. The company claims to have between 150 and 200 customers utilizing its software through the cloud, and that cloud deals now account for half of its sales pipeline. This led the company to lay claim earlier this month to being the number one provider of cloud-based HA software in the IBM i market.
IT Jungle spoke with Maxava’s senior vice president Simon O’Sullivan last week to give him a chance to back up the big claims Maxava was making about its presence in the cloud-based HA market. O’Sullivan didn’t back down, although he acknowledged that most of Maxava’s cloud customers come from one company, Sungard Public Sector, which runs a massive managed service provider (MSP) business with its IBM i-based apps for local governments.
“We want that cloud market for ourselves,” O’Sullivan said. “We have around 140 or 150 customers that are protected with Maxava in that [SunGard Public Sector] cloud. But we also have other cloud partners, and so that’s why we’re staking our number one claim.”
Currently, Maxava has about 20 deals in the works for cloud-based HA or DR software, which account for about half the deals it is close to finalizing, O’Sullivan said. Maxava has about 500-plus customers with traditional “on-premise” deployments, which still generate more revenue for Maxava.
But the numbers are starting to swing the other way. “We’ve had a big uptick in the last six months with customers stepping forward and asking for cloud,” he said. “In the past they weren’t doing that. So it’s definitely a change in mindset.”
The biggest opportunity for Maxava comes from partnerships with MSPs. Currently, Maxava has “dozens” of cloud customers with about 10 MSPs operating cloud data centers in North America, and still other MSP partners in Europe. Well-known IBM i MSPs that are Maxava cloud partners in the United States include Baseline Data Services, Meridian Group International, mindSHIFT Technologies, and Symmetry.
Bob Lamendola, vice president of operations for New York-based mindSHIFT, is a big fan of the New Zealand software company and its approach to cloud-based HA. “Maxava has done a very nice job of embracing the MSP market, much more so than the other players in the industry,” Lamendola said.
“The other players in the industry considered selling the software as selling software, whereas Maxava understands that the method to sell the software and make a big impact in the market is to make it a SaaS [software as a service] type offering that providers like us can wrap services around it,” he continued. “That way, you’re providing a monthly recurring invoice to a customer for a total solution, as opposed to having the client go out and purchase the software on their own and then have to worry about the maintenance and support going forward.”
On The HA Cloud
O’Sullivan attributes the sudden interest in its hosted HA offering to several factors, some of which the company is in control of and several that it’s not, such as the overall interest level in cloud computing increasing and the heightened awareness of the need for DR that disasters like Superstorm Sandy have brought.
Far from being reactive, Maxava is proactively changing its products and business model to adapt to the new cloud world. It recently hired Charlene Hamiwka to build the cloud channel and manage strategic partnerships with MSPs, O’Sullivan said. It’s also made changes to its software and licensing model to encourage more cloud deals.
In particular, Maxava has tweaked its monitoring and management tool, called MaxView, to support the unique needs of MSPs. “It’s very important in the cloud world for the MSP to be able to manage and monitor easily,” O’Sullivan said. “In the past, it wasn’t a big problem for a customer to run a little five minute task. But when you have 50 customers, that’s a lot of work. So we’ve been building cloud-based monitoring and maintenance into the product, so MSPs can easily monitor multiple customers.”
Having straightforward pricing structures has also helped Maxava attract MSPs to use its software, who in turn attract the end-user customers. In cloud HA deals, the HA software is a small part of the overall deal, which also involves the cost of hardware, data center space, electricity, bandwidth, and human administration. Having a software licensing scheme that is unobtrusive keeps the ball rolling as customers weigh their options and decide whether to go with a cloud-based HA solution or not.
“We just want to be very easy to deal with,” O’Sullivan said. “When somebody approaches the MSP and says ‘Can you offer DR in the cloud?’ we want them to be able to say yes, and give them a price straightaway, without having them go back and forth about the size of box and size of database and all that. It has to be fast and you have to be able to respond very quickly to the customer in terms of price.”
Lamendola agrees. “Maxava has really made their software cloud friendly,” he says. “It’s a very smart move on their part and I think they’re headed in the right direction. I think it’s going to provide them with a great opportunity to make serious inroads into the HA landscape.”
MSPs like mindSHIFT, Baseline, and Meridian–and IBM itself–deserve credit for making the cloud-based HA service feasible. IBM has made it easier for MSPs to get the boxes they need to run a cloud data center, while MSPs have packaged cloud-offerings into cost-effective and repeatable solutions.
There are still differences between the hosted HA packages offered by MSPs. Some have the best SAS Type II data centers with redundant power sources and network connections, and full replication to secondary DR sites, while other MSPs may run smaller budgets, and rely on tape as the ultimate backstop. But cloud-based HA seems well on its way to a standardized offering, with increased competition among the MSPs, and ultimately that’s good for the IBM i customer.
This article was corrected to more accurately reflect Maxava’s customer base figures for cloud and on-premise deployments.