The SMB channel provides fertile ground for Green Cloud Technologies

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1 The SMB channel provides fertile ground for Green Cloud Technologies Analyst: Agatha Poon 11 Aug, 2014 While competition increases among public cloud providers and the price war intensifies to draw customers, cloud startup Green Cloud Technologies is enjoying stable demand with no pushback on price. While the company doesn't have a broad product portfolio IaaS and disaster recovery are its two offerings it has gotten off to a good start with a channel-only approach. Its value proposition is pretty straightforward, enabling small MSPs to jumpstart their cloud business with minimal risk. The future looks promising for Green Cloud, which is growing 20% per quarter with a current revenue run rate of $8.5m. The 451 Take The cloud infrastructure service market that Green Cloud is targeting is all the rage, with providers of all kinds fighting for market share. The company's twist is its ability to create a thriving SMB-focused channel program. Pricing does matter to channel partners, but it becomes less of an issue when Green Cloud can deliver on its promise of full infrastructure management. The next step is to reinforce the ability to provide a win-win strategy for channel partners, adding value through collaborative selling. Context Greenville, South Carolina-based Green Cloud Technologies was founded in 2011 and has a headcount of 31. Its management team has a wealth of experience in the telecom business, and members of the team held senior roles with NuVox Communications, which was acquired by Windstream for $645m in Shay House founded Green Cloud with chairman Charles S. Houser, CTO Keith Coker, senior VP of marketing Charles L. Houser and VP of engineering Eric Hester, Copyright The 451 Group 1

2 targeting managed service providers looking to have turnkey cloud offerings without investing in underlying infrastructure and hardware components. The company has raised $13.62m so far through multiple sources, including from its main investor Millry Corp, which is a rural local exchange carrier (RLEC) in Millry, Alabama, and bank financing. The company is looking to raise venture capital over the next year. Green Cloud reported $1.4m in revenue last year and expects to hit $4.2m by the end of this year. Strategy Green Cloud believes what differentiates it from the competition is the pure channel model to sell cloud services IaaS and disaster recovery through MSPs and VARs. It considers grassroots, local-market MSPs and VARs with no interest in managing/building datacenters as the best candidates from a business development standpoint. The ultimate goal is for the channel partners (MSPs and VARs) to migrate their IT infrastructures (which could be half a rack or full rack of colocation space from third-party colocation/datacenter providers) to Green Cloud. Thus far, typical partners for Green Cloud are small IT services companies ($1-5m in revenue) in Tier II-III markets. That said, the company sees rapid growth in the midsized VAR space where the typical partner has a significant private cloud business that needs an IaaS supporting business. The company claims to have a network of 168 active channel partners spanning multiple verticals. It has a solid share (30%) of customers coming from the healthcare industry, which Green Cloud believes is a result of the well-established relationships with channel partners specializing in healthcare-related consulting services. Some of its reference partners are Blue Oak Networks, Connect Solutions, Enterprise Technologies, Oasys Solutions Group, Primeline Communications and Stasmayer. While the majority of partners are under the commission program, in which partners can earn residual commissions for the life of the accounts that they sell, some of its partners prefer to get deep discounts for volume purchases using the wholesale model. Beyond the financial incentive it offers, the cloud startup says that it provides ongoing management and support. Like other managed hosting providers, Green Cloud manages the cloud infrastructure all the way up to the hypervisor level. This, in turn, allows the company to engage MSP/VAR partners to provide support services for applications and middleware platforms. Thus far, this collaborative approach seems to bring Green Cloud a steady revenue stream, which translates to average monthly recurring revenue of $800 per customer for a three-year contract. At present, the company is adding new customers per month. Taking into the consideration the three-year contractual agreement, it claims about $15m in revenue backlog. Copyright The 451 Group 2

3 Technology and product At the core, Green Cloud provides virtual servers (public and private clouds) and disaster-recovery services. Leveraging technologies from VMware vcloud, Cisco UCS, NetApp and Tintri, the company delivers both public and private clouds out of its datacenters in Greenville, South Carolina and Nashville, Tennessee. Its public cloud offering is deployed in a multi-tenant environment with three storage options (Premium, Standard and Archival). In terms of server size, it can support up to 8vCPU, 32GB of RAM and 16TB per vdisk (8vdisk per VM). It also comes with 3,000GB data transfer per month and one public IP address per vdc, as well as one IPSEC VPN per site and one remote desktop management session. Private cloud is mostly deployed in a multi-tenant environment, although the company does have a subset of customers using private cloud configurations with dedicated racks. At the hypervisor level, it is built on VMware's vsphere Enterprise Plus and can run on any VMware-supported OS. Customers can select dedicated SANs using technologies from Tintri and NetApp. Alternatively, shared storage options on public tiered storage are made available. In terms of server size, it comes in five flavors by ESXi host, ranging from 8-core Xeon, 96G ECC RAM as a baseline up to the fifth tier, which provides 64-core Xeon, 1TB ECC RAM. Disk storage is purchased in 500GB blocks with 10TB as a minimum. Customers looking to have a public IP address are charged for $5/month per IP address. Beyond IaaS offerings, the company provides disaster-recovery services. ServeRestore is well suited for off-site recovery of premises-based applications. Green Cloud says it sees a broad range of customers from single servers to entire datacenters using ServeRestore for backup and, more importantly, to restore to a full virtual environment. Green Cloud believes its primary differentiation comes from transparency and manageability. Customers are able to manage storage requirements leveraging usage reports provided by Green Cloud. For customers that have already invested in VMware virtualization technology, it provides ExpressRestore with a range of cloud-recovery targets leveraging technologies from NetApp and Tintri (SAN-to-SAN replication), as well as Zerto (hypervisor-level replication). With the disaster-recovery option, the company says it provides partners with a logical path to the cloud as premises-based applications are restored to a full VM production environment. Although OpenStack is under the industry spotlight, the company says it focuses its deployment efforts on key technologies provided by its partners VMware, Cisco and NetApp. That said, it does not rule out the possibility of incorporating OpenStack components into its cloud offerings in the future. If that happens, the company will mostly turn to OpenStack experts through acquisition or Copyright The 451 Group 3

4 strategic partnerships, as opposed to taking the DIY approach. Competition Judging by Green Cloud's product portfolio, the company is competing in an increasingly crowded marketplace with cloud providers coming from every corner. Nevertheless, it is taking a different approach from a go-to-market standpoint. Instead of selling directly to SMB customers using a self-service online ordering system like Amazon Web Services, Google, Rackspace, SoftLayer and Microsoft Azure Green Cloud sells through channel partners either under its own brand or white-label offerings. With its focus on SMB-centric MSPs and VARs, the company claims that it rarely runs into cloud providers like AWS and Rackspace in competitive bids. Interestingly, it sees itself competing with some large MSPs that have yet to form partnerships with Green Cloud, saying these companies present a competitive threat as they eventually go after the same segment SMB end customers for various IT offerings. Targeting SMB-focused channels, Green Cloud may find itself being compared with Parallels, although its market focus is somewhat different. SWOT Analysis Strengths Weaknesses Green Cloud is one of the few companies taking a channel-only approach. It has a network of 168 active channel partners that bring in a steady revenue stream, so the channel strategy seems to be working in its favor. While demand for IaaS and disaster recovery remains stable, there is still room to build out a portfolio of cloud infrastructure services. Opportunities Threats VARs and distributors are constantly looking for ways to drive greater efficiency and value for money. Their interest in new technologies and innovative service delivery models will ignite new growth opportunities for channel-focused providers. While the company has technology and experience, the distribution channel network is fairly fragmented today, which in turn could complicate its outreach strategy when it comes to partner recruitment. Copyright The 451 Group 4

5 Reproduced by permission of The 451 Group; This report was originally published within 451 Research's Market Insight Service. For additional information on 451 Research or to apply for trial access, go to: Copyright The 451 Group 5

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