Can you please provide a brief description of your company and the role that you play there?
Double Horn is a cloud services brokerage company in Austin, Texas. We were founded in 2005. We started off with a cloud communications business as a hosted communications and voice over IP provider. For the first few years we have been in that line of work, with the primary focus on small and medium businesses. Around four years ago, we looked at an opportunity of expanding our services into the larger portfolio of cloud services brokerage.
From communications, we have transformed into an end-to-end solutions provider with cloud IT. The infrastructure migrations are back-up and disaster recovery solutions. Security and compliance, we have observed, is a key solution area of focus within cloud, so that is our primary area of focus. The communications side of business is still pretty much a part of our portfolio. So about four years ago we expanded our service into an end-to-end cloud services brokerage provider.
The way we deliver our cloud services brokerage is through our partnerships with the major cloud providers, and that’s infrastructure, software or platform cloud providers. Through our partnerships with the technology providers and wrapping around our business model of cloud services brokerage, we are helping our customers to migrate to the cloud.
The value proposition of a cloud services broker is being a single point of contact for all the cloud needs of our end customers, whether they need infrastructure, software or anything. Instead of going to multiple providers, they can come to us. We help them not only decide which solution to choose, but also help them with the implementation, support and maintenance, and we offer a single source of billing at the end of the month for all their cloud products.
What was the business challenge your company was facing that incited the need for this platform?
NaviSite is a new age cloud provider, which is owned by the network company. The connecting infrastructure for the cloud is your network, and Time Warner Cable is one of the leading providers of that. It owns a lot of network fiber cables and connections all over the United States. NaviSite is a cloud of that company. Your cloud is as strong as your network, and no one can help implement cloud better than a communications provider.
In that way, NaviSite has had a great advantage. Along with their products and the business problems they solve, they are a partner of VMware, which is a leading cloud provider of virtualization software. So NaviSite is built on top of the VMware platform, and they primarily address the concerns with the desktop-as-a-service, infrastructure-as-a-service, or hosted services that are required by the end customers.
So in your typical use cases, where a customer is planning to move away from his data center or hosted environment and wants to migrate to the cloud, NaviSite provides a great alternative in terms of their managed cloud solution or remote storage solutions, everything wrapped around VMware platform. It can also be supported by Time Warner Cable’s connectivity or any other connectivity provider. That's the end-to-end package NaviSite comes up with.
One of the primary products of NaviSite, which has been of huge interest to our customers, is DaaS. IT decision makers have been considering migrating to the cloud for the last few years. They have initiated the process with some of the collaboration platforms and applications, like their communications or their email applications.
Now, as the next wave, they are looking for some set of products which are solving their day-to-day challenges. So DaaS is coming out as a very popular product among the IT decision makers for the next level of cloud migration, along with backup and disaster recovery. NaviSite has strong products within both of these segments.
How does your company implement this platform or software?
At Double Horn, as a cloud services broker, we approach our customer's cloud migration through a simple six-step process. It is called "cloud transformation methodology". We did a lot of research in this area of what exactly is a cloud migration, how to simplify it and see beyond this buzzword of cloud migration. We have invested a lot in research and development, and we have come up with the simple six step cloud transformation methodology that is proprietary to Double Horn.
There are six steps, but we need not really begin with step one for every customer. Some customers have no idea about how to migrate to the cloud. Other customers have complete information, have identified their applications and only need help to migrate. In that case, our cloud transformation methodology comes in handy because it is a modular approach.
We begin with cloud screening, and then move on to cataloging, and then blueprinting. These first three steps are a part of cloud assessment. We step in as a subject matter expert and asses our customer's IT environment, starting with a complimentary cloud screening. This is actually a very popular thing among our customers because during a complimentary cloud screening, we spend a few hours with their IT department and identify some of the applications.
First we get the complete understanding of our customer's IT infrastructure. Much before that, if they require some education on any of the cloud concepts, we educate our customer and then we understand their IT landscape. Then, we do a feasibility analysis and we help our customers form a strategic plan in terms of what can be migrated, what cannot be migrated to the cloud, and also provide them some cost-benefit analysis. We come up with a high-level schedule of cloud migration. All this is in the complimentary cloud-screening step.
At this point, if our customer is happy with what we have provided them, and they are excited to come on board, we then we take them on to the next level of IT cataloging and blueprinting, which is a more hands-on, delivery-based approach. We provide detailed documentation and a detailed plan around implementation of cloud migration. Once we complete the blueprinting and get a sign-off from our customers, we start off on the actual migration and implementation.
So stage four is cloud turn-up, where we spin up the cloud instances for the applications we have identified in the assessment. Then stage five is cloud migration, where we actually migrate some of the applications and help our customers test in parallel, in the two environments, their existing IT data center environment and the environment we have turned up in stage four. So we do a parallel run and help our customers test both environments and see the value proposition of a cloud environment.
Finally, stage six is cloud operation, where we shut down the customer's in-house instances and migrate that particular application, process, or infrastructure we identify. This stage is where they are fully operational. So this is our cloud transformation methodology and approach to what cloud migration is for our customers.
I just want to remind you that this is an ongoing process. We take this six-step process project by project. It's a roadmap sort of thing, when few of the applications we have identified are being migrated and turned up, and there is a parallel process that goes on in terms of the next phase of requirements per the roadmap we have provided to our customers as a part of the assessment.
Was your company considering other platforms? Why this platform?
I recommend NaviSite primarily because of some of the factors I've mentioned before. NaviSite has got the unique advantage of being built on one of the most popular cloud platforms, VMware. The second advantage is the networking capabilities of being associated with Time Warner Cable. Those are the two main things for which we would recommend NaviSite.
On an annual or monthly basis, how much does your company spend to utilize the platform?
I think it's a very broad question, because it is dependent upon what they are implementing. So this should be a point of reference in terms of what kind of spending we are referring to here. NaviSite's pricing and technology has been comparable to some of the industry's leading cloud providers. We work with all the major providers like Amazon, Rackspace, Verizon and NaviSite especially in the infrastructure space, and we believe NaviSite has a very competitive price offering.
Were there any software features/tools that you were really impressed by?
The DaaS solution has been one of the primary differentiators of NaviSite. That is probably the industry leading product from NaviSite in this space. That is one area in which we would recommend them, compared to other competitors.
Looking back, are there any areas of the software that you feel could be added or improved upon?
Yes, definitely. Not only because of DaaS but also as a whole, NaviSite has got some great products and solutions which are bundled together. They are innovating and are addressing some of the major cloud concerns in terms of security on the cloud. So coming to the areas of improvement, they certainly need to work a little bit more on their pricing models because they are competing against some of the industry leading cloud providers. They don't have anything to worry about in terms of the technology solutions, but being competitive in this landscape is important because right now all the major cloud providers are after this land grab; they want to capture the market. So that is one area in which we would like NaviSite to be more competitive.
Have you had to interact with the platform’s support team or reference their support resources?
Yes. They have a very compelling offer to begin with. They give a 30 day trial for their platforms. In fact NaviSite and Double Horn are jointly offering an initial complimentary cloud trial. That's a very compelling offer, and even through that trial process, they have support teams helping the customers in navigating through the cloud platform. Then once the trial period ends and they decide to actually purchase the platform, their support teams have been very engaged. They have partner-specific resources as well, to help with solution architecting, all the way up through support. So our experience with their support has been exceptional.
To sum up: We havea few quick questions, and for each question we ask you to rate the software on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the best.
What would you give the software for functionality of the features available?
Four and a half.
What would you give the software for ease of use or ease of implementation into your business?
For support, as in responsiveness of the team or helpfulness of the resources available?
Overall, satisfaction with the platform?
Four and a half.
How likely are you to recommend the software to a colleague or similar business?