An interview with Steve Groom, CEO of Vissensa
Recently Compare the Cloud had the pleasure of meeting Steve Groom CEO of Vissensa, a managed services company with a comprehensive IT service portfolio which is predominantly based on IBM hardware and software as well as the IBM Cloud – SmartCloud. We asked a number of questions concerning how IBM has helped Vissensa become the organisation they are today.
Vissensa – a bit of background…
Vissensa was formed by a group of commercial and technical professionals from an NHS managed service background who achieved an enviable record of 6 years zero downtime on the ISoft architecture they were responsible for. While servicing this NHS contract, they established data centres in the UK and now as Vissensa have grown into a four datacentre operation and recently grew into a fifth site where they became an anchor tenant for the new Datum data centre in Farnborough. During this development they have replicated this scale of footprint to bring carrier class stability and performance to the Hosted Desktop/ Backup and managed services market. By standardising on IBM hardware and services, Vissensa has established a strong USP and has laid solid foundations through an aggressive growth and reinvestment strategy.
CTC: Steve, tell us about your background and why you founded Vissensa?
I was very fortunate to have worked with a technical team who had a “never fail” attitude that is rare in an overall delivery model. This team managed a complex primary and DR environment for patient data for NHS clients and had exceeded all the service levels required for a long time. It made it very easy to design and implement our first baby steps whilst laying the core foundation of what Vissensa stands for – which is robust, quality services, forward thought and leadership.
CTC: What separates you from the abundance of hosted desktop and managed services companies?
I think the answer is three fold. Firstly, we have developed a domain expertise in using the available desktop technologies out there, and so have an overarching view of what technology suits a client’s business model, regardless of vendor; but more importantly we look at a desktop deployment in the longer term and from the “consumer” end – not the IT department perspective. This allows Vissensa develop a roadmap with the client of how their desktop experience is set to develop, which may be through thin client deployment or the adoption of BOYD (Bring Your Own Device) adoption in the organisation. On top of this we collaborate with other companies to introduce them as part of the overall solution to ensure that a comprehensive working model can be engineered. For example, rolling out BYOD brings a new set of challenges to the enterprise – such a security, we work closely with specialists like Jim Rees at Razor Thorn Security who has many years of broad security experience to advise on a specific client’s future desktop requirements. Lastly the final differentiator is that we provide integration to a range of other cloud services such as online backup and file collaboration as well as application hosting / PaaS.
BYOD brings a new set of challenges to the enterprise – such a security
CTC: How has IBM helped Vissensa in recent years?
IBM continues to be a key vendor for Vissensa as it has invested in developing an embracing partner programme which can be mapped to a business partner’s market and trajectory. IBM’s hardware & software allows Vissensa to build and augment industry-leading components into a range of solutions that can underpin our own USPs and capabilities. IBM’s marketing and channel programmes have been re-aligned to a business-partner-focused model and this makes “doing business “ with IBM as a business partner much simpler. This is really apparent in their “first mover” position as a major vendor aligning itself to MSP’s in response to the markets growing concerns of the shrinking reseller model across the technology marketplace
CTC: What products within the IBM cloud portfolio have Vissensa adopted?
Vissensa have adopted a hardware position that we standardise on IBM blade, FlexSystem, unified Storage (storwize etc) for hardware with the associated integrated software stacks which comes with them – such as Tivoli Flash Copy and TSM.
We’ve been working closely with some of the IBM team on the Lotus Live and collaboration tools for deployment into the education sector and we also have adopted Websphere for a specific healthcare app we built.
In terms of management we’re in the early stages with IBM SmartCloud Control Desk as part of our extended desktop management offerings – and of course we have been implementing the IBM Virtual Desktop product which recently became a Tivoli branded solution along with EndPoint management and security.
CTC: What is the integration like between IBM cloud products?
One of the things Vissensa is starting to like about IBM and Tivoli is that the amassed wealth of IBM as a software company and its ability to adopt and then integrate products is now becoming really evident. An Example – The IBM SmartCloud Desktop Infrastructure product has already got a number of integration points in it, such as patch management – which may not seem revolutionary – but when you factor in that IBMs patch management (Tivoli Endpoint Manager) is both “fat client” and “thin client “ aware – this allows one tool to be used to patch a traditional as well as a centrally managed VDI community of users.
CTC: IBM are making a push into the MSP market based on your experience would you advocate managed service providers to join the IBM cloud partner program?
IBM have been very helpful at each step of our development
I think we’re a good advert for companies that are moving to an MSP model as we have developed our solution from the ground up, and have become successful based on the companies we have teamed up with and the technology we have deployed. IBM have been very helpful at each step of our development which is transacted through the partner program. It’s the partner program which is effective, consistent and understandable which helps new organisations align themselves with what they “are and are not”.
CTC: One question we ask on every interview, what is your definition of cloud computing?
For me “cloud” is a consumption model based on the business requirement which is flexible and transparent to change. Many don’t prioritise the need to have technical and support personnel available on and off premises as part of a cloud solution, which when you think about it is fundamental – since rarely does a company move “big bang” style into the cloud.
CTC: And if you could change one thing within the cloud computing market what would it be?
I think more comprehensive information which can give rise to more informed understanding of what it is and what is needed for you to engage a business with the cloud, particularly for the SME market – would be great.
CTC: And finally, anything you can share with regards Vissensa’s plans for 2013?
2013 is going to be a massive year for Vissensa. We have already seen triple digit growth in terms of our cloud-based revenues, and this is set to accelerate further. We’re being asked to provide cloud into different countries, South Africa, and South East Asia being two which are high on the radar, but also we will be announcing a comprehensive cloud toolbox and service integrated in a management dashboard designed to address all aspects of how business will consume corporate data from a widening range of ubiquitous BYO devices. …so watch this space!
Thank you Steve. For further information on Vissensa visit www.vissensa.com or get in touch with Compare the Cloud for an introduction.