Jack Welch, the long-time and legendary CEO of GE, once famously advised, “Change before you have to.”
For Offis CEO Chy Chuawiwat, Welch’s axiom struck a chord. Offis, an Australia-based managed services provider (MSP), works with software vendors, digital agencies, and large brands managing mission-critical applications and web sites. Three years ago, Offis had a mature, efficient technical operation with its own data centers and an impressive client list that included companies as diverse as VW and Westfield. And Offis was profitable and growing.
Yet even though business was going well, the Offis management team knew they couldn’t rest on their laurels. Amazon Web Services (AWS) had moved into Australia, and Offis’ customers were starting to ask questions: Would AWS be cheaper? How did AWS performance compare to Offis data centers?
Offis knew that its data centers were performing optimally, plus its staff had done the hard work of building trust and credibility with its enterprise clients. But Offis saw the opportunity to take advantage of the cloud’s cost advantages, nearly instant scaling, and increased performance given that IOPS (input/output) was getting remarkably fast up to 60,000 IOPS. So in 2013, Offis set out to gain cloud experience and offer cloud infrastructure and management services to its clients.
The Challenge: How Offis Transformed Its Business With Cloud
The experienced Offis team took its time, building out a cloud strategy with its trademark intelligence and technical savvy. The team knew that Offis customers would expect the same level of expertise and service from Offis no matter if the company was hosting in its own data center or in the cloud. Offis also knew it did not want to get locked into one cloud provider. Its cloud strategy would have to be multi-cloud.
So the company examined a number of software platforms to help it manage and orchestrate across clouds. It initially evaluated software from vendors including RightScale, IBM, VMWare, and Red Hat. Offis narrowed down its field and decided to do an intense six-month shoot-out with two finalists: Red Hat CloudForms and RightScale. Four months into the test, Offis dropped Red Hat CloudForms altogether. As Chuawiwat says, “CloudForms’ promises and concepts were good — but the product was just not there yet.”
Offis had more work to do to fully vet RightScale though, and its engineers hammered on RightScale for two more months across 135 test points ranging from ease of installation, ease of migrating to different clouds, and how clouds work with different databases. When the exhaustive testing was complete, Offis chose RightScale as its multi-cloud management platform and the foundation of its migration to cloud.
The RightScale Solution: Avoiding Vendor Lock-In With Multi-Cloud Management
“RightScale met all of our very high demands for multi-cloud management and went well beyond orchestration and automation,” says Chuawiwat. “RightScale is a true innovator — it is building things into its product that we haven’t thought of yet but are incredibly useful for our customers.”
RightScale is helping Offis increase its professional services revenue by helping to build out Cloud Application Templates (CATs) for its clients that work across clouds. CATs provide an easy and repeatable way to define resources used by a Cloud Application (CloudApp) and lists operations that can be used to provision, operate, and decommission the CloudApp.
Chuawiwat points to the dedication of the RightScale team as another big plus in Offis’ transition to cloud: “From RightScale CEO Michael Crandell on down, everyone at RightScale has the same attitude — they know that if Offis is successful, then RightScale is successful.”
Chuawiwat believes that if Offis hadn’t made the leap to cloud, it would have eventually faced declining revenues. But because it did make the transition, the company is looking to grow 40 percent in 2015 and predicts that it is just at the very beginning of a sustained period of fast growth.
Looking Ahead: Life As a Cloud-Based MSP
Today, Offis has a larger professional services team that is generating new revenue by using RightScale to help customers transform their applications for the cloud. In addition, it has found much bigger opportunities through RightScale’s open platform. The company is talking to vertical software vendors about how to deploy and propagate software across different clouds.
“We can take a template, deploy across multiple clouds, and ultimately integrate with our customers more tightly,” says Chuawiwat. “The future for Offis is that we are becoming more indispensable to much larger partner organizations.”
Offis could have stayed on the same familiar path that many other MSPs have chosen and survived in a declining, though not disappearing, market. Instead the company transformed itself to thrive by leveraging RightScale to offer cloud to its customers. True to Jack Welch’s words, Offis changed before it had to. “Choosing RightScale was the best decision,” Chuawiwat affirms. “It was the foundation that helped us make this change.”
Watch the On-Demand Webinar With Offis
Offis CEO Chy Chuawiwat discusses how his company uses RightScale to broker services across a variety of cloud providers as well as virtualized environments in order to serve the diverse needs of its customers. Many managed services providers (MSPs) such as Offis are looking to shift their cloud services offerings to encompass public and private cloud options.
- Why Offis decided to pivot to cloud
- Building the foundation: people, process, technology
- How Offis uses RightScale
- Results and lessons learned