Anatomy of a New Zealand cloud company

Posted on Sep 23, 2013 in Company news, Legal

Originally published in ‘What is it Wellington – ICT from the edge of the world’ by Ian Apperley, 23 September 2013

The prospects of a Cloud company being successful in New Zealand, from the outside, seem small. We’re too far away, too expensive, don’t have the infrastructure, don’t have the redundancy, the security, or the necessary data protection, and so on. I’ve heard it all before, usually from the big houses who have a barrow to push of their own or the old architects buried deep in basements on the Terrace.

Now, before I get started, I don’t have any interest in the company that I’m going to dissect, I don’t make money from them or get any sales revenue of any kind, or have a job lined up, or rights on their first born and all those sorts of things.

Resolve Technology has been around for six years but only got into Cloud in the last three. What got them started was a discussion with an accountant who told them that his current ICT provider was telling him he needed to build a computer room in his office complete with air conditioning and the other bells and whistles.

The question that popped into their minds was: “How could we give an SME the same level of protection that an Enterprise gets from a large data centre and could they make the financials work?”

In typical Wellington startup fashion the two directors, Simon Falconer and Adam Mudge, employed the help of another geek and at a wedding developed the architecture for the service, on napkins. Seriously, if you are going to build anything decent, it has to start on napkins.

That was the start of the Cloud services, which were wrapped with two additional services, management of the ICT for the SME (think mini-outsource) and migration of the SME services to their Cloud infrastructure. What happened from there is interesting.

The first year saw a 450% increase in revenue and uptake of Resolve’s Cloud services. The following years have been equally significant. It seems that there is a hot market for the SME in New Zealand and companies are not afraid to adopt it.

In fact, if you want a sign that they are not afraid, one of Resolve’s largest customers is Chen Palmer. Yes, THAT Chen Palmer. Arguably one of New Zealand’s highest profile legal companies is using the Cloud and they can’t get enough of it.  Think about that for a moment, we’re talking about lawyers. Some of the most conservative, detailed, intelligent, questioning breed of professional with the most sensitive data that has to be available 24 X 7.

Mai Chen herself is quoted with such statements in relation to Resolve as “world class IT-platform”, “extremely high levels of speed and reliability”, “speed and quality of support”, “maintenance is constant and effortless”, “in a total failure, we’d be up and running in minutes, not days”, and [Resolve] “is personally committed to our business and delivers us an extraordinary level of service.”

It’s not just Chen Palmer, Resolve looks after “lots and lots” of law firms.

I asked them how they dealt with the common list of fear, uncertainty and doubt that customers raise; security, redundancy, data sovereignty and the like.

The service is geographically dispersed with a datacentre in the North and South Islands and plans for a third in the pipeline for the future. All their data is stored in New Zealand so data sovereignty is not an issue (incidentally, this complies with Law Society guidelines.)

Resolve see some trends in the New Zealand market when it comes to Cloud services:

“A greater understanding of why being in New Zealand is important, the business community are waking up to the fact that governance, privacy and where data resides are actually really important, The earthquakes, PRISM and recent Government data breaches are making people rethink their own security and DR strategy.”

Something that I see echoed around the country. One of the speakers at a recent Cloud Summit in Auckland, a partner in the risk section of Price Waterhouse, spoke on the various aspects of risk surrounding Cloud. Something that has been done to death by this blog. I had one question that I asked him; “If you owned your own business and utilised Cloud services, would you buy Cloud from New Zealand or internationally?”

Instant answer. New Zealand; “Because I can see them, touch them, have a relationship with them, walk down the street and visit them, and I know exactly where my data is.”

So I asked Resolve what made them different from the big boys; Amazon, Azure, Google, or RackSpace:

“Anyone can sell tin and software, what makes us a great partner is the reliability and service we add to our clients. Local and contactable, we look after all the business requirements not just certain services or infrastructure.  We take customers on the journey into platform modernisation – we talk risk mitigation and business improvement, not techno-babble.  We only sell what the customer needs.”

OK, enough about Resolve Technology.

There were some take away thoughts I had as a result of the discussion:

  • If Legal Firms, who hold some of the most sensitive data, are moving to Cloud in New Zealand then you can be assured that the market is maturing rapidly.
  • While onshore Cloud services are more expensive, you get a depth of relationship that you don’t with an offshore or a very large provider. You can have a physical (not that way dirty minds) relationship with a company and it’s employees. Data Sovereignty is assured.
  • Cloud service providers in New Zealand who wrap their back-end infrastructure into a total package are worth gold. The transition, planning, maintenance, support, and plain english speaking on a business level are something that you will never get from a massive multi-national.
  • They are fast. They can respond to technology quickly because they are mid-size, innovative, and can shift tack quickly.
  • They collaborate. The back of a napkin at a wedding number eight wire approach is alive and well in tech hubs in our major cities.
  • They are growing exponentially. 450% growth in a year outstrips even the wildest projections of the international analysts for Cloud.

It’s time that our larger companies and government agencies put away the fear, uncertainty, and doubt and looked down the street to some of our own Cloud providers.