Small business, CSPs

ChannelCloud’s New Twist on SMB Hybrid Cloud Servers, HaaS

Kent Erickson

What is an SMB hybrid cloud server? ChannelCloud, led by MSP veteran Kent Erickson, is taking a new look at that age-old question. The net result is CloudSmart Hybrid Server -- an on-premises SMB server that links to Microsoft Azure and Office 365 public cloud services.

Admittedly, plenty of vendors have attempted to:

  • Build MSP-centric on-premises servers.
  • Connect the dots between on-premises servers and public clouds.

Key examples: Some pundits may recall Lenovo's purpose-built MSP server, which launched around 2010 but didn't quite got mainstream. And then there was the Intel Hybrid Cloud server and a related AppUp Small Business Service -- which ultimately died around 2013.

CloudSmart Hybrid Server: Ideal Timing?

So why is CloudSmart Hybrid Server potentially different? Perhaps the answers involve (A) Erickson's experience as an MSP and CSP himself, (B) timing and (C) platform integration. Erickson has worked in and around the IT channel -- as an IT services provider -- since 1991. He successfully navigated major IT inflection points like mainframes and minicomputers shifting to Novell NetWare LANs and Windows NT servers.

Fast forward to present day, and Erickson's timing in another market transition looks ideal. Indeed, public cloud continues to grow rapidly. Office 365 is everywhere, and SMB customers are now discovering Microsoft Azure for additional workloads. ChannelCloud's strategy: Empower CSPs and MSPs to help those SMB customers with:

  1. on-premises server consolidation/modernization; and
  2. connections to Azure and Office 365 -- thereby creating managed SMB hybrid clouds.

The result is CloudSmart Hybrid Server -- which seeks to become a linchpin between public clouds and on-premises systems.

Everything as a Hybrid Service

ChannelCloud offers the hybrid server in a subscription model -- essentially bundling hardware and software as a service (HaaS and SaaS) for a flat monthly fee. The deployment agreement spans three years. I don't know who takes on the financial risk (ChannelCloud, the partner or a third-party financing firm) if the end-customer closes up shop during the three-year contract.

In addition to consolidating on-premises SMB servers, ChannelCloud's new offering may also have implications in the BDR (backup and disaster recovery) market. Indeed, it's a safe bet the CloudSmart Hybrid Server will attempt to compete in some sectors against on-premises backup appliances that link to clouds...

Potential Competition?

Of course, ChannelCloud isn't the only company taking a close look at hybrid cloud server opportunities. HP Enterprise has been ramping up new ProLiant SMB hybrid servers for SMB customers.

Michael Proper

Also, ClearCenter has been expanding its Hybrid Service Provider ecosystem. And CEO Michael Proper has been working on several major ClearCenter surprises -- a few of which will likely debut later this year or in early 2017.

Still, ClearCenter and ChannelCloud have slightly different visions and strategies. While ClearCenter has a strong open source heritage, ChannelCloud is pursuing Microsoft channel partners that are transforming into CSPs. Also, ClearCenter's strategy spans the servers, storage and network management. I think ChannelCloud is focused more on the server and storage components.

Admittedly, this story is incomplete. Several ChannelCloud customers are up and running with CloudSmart Hybrid Server. We'll be watching and listening for updates about those deployments.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.