Loudcloud touts lower-cost services

Managed infrastructure provider Loudcloud Inc. is rolling out services that are designed to give businesses more flexibility by providing entry-level options for about half the cost of previous packages.

Managed Services 3.0, which starts at US$10,000 per month, includes a range of offerings – from infrastructure design and deployment to network and hardware management. Customers can combine products according to their needs. Frank Chen, director of products and services for Loudcloud, says the services are intended for customers who want to start a relationship with Loudcloud without having to commit to high-end services right away.

“It’s the enterprise customers who know down the line they want a premium-managed service. They want us to manage their applications and lots of complexity, but what they’ve got is one site or a pilot project that they want to start with,” Chen says. “Managed Services 3.0 gives people a way to dip their toes in the pool without jumping in.”

In the past, Loudcloud bundled premium support services with all its offerings, meaning Loudcloud basically became the customer’s Web operations team. With Managed Services 3.0, customers can decide what they would like to manage and “how many Loudcloud people they want to bring to the party,” Chen says.

Customers can choose Loudcloud’s Standard Client Services, with which they simply get Loudcloud’s 24-7 operations center that acts as a second set of eyes to help monitor a Web site. Advanced Client Services give customers project-management services and more technical support. Premium services include Loudcloud’s dedicated technical and project-management support and use of Loudcloud’s Code Deployment System, which automates the process of changing Web site code.

With the economy straining budgets, IT executives are feeling the pinch when it comes to getting funding for outsourcing projects, analysts say. As a result, managed hosting providers such as Loudcloud are responding with lower-cost packages that promise businesses a faster return on investment.

“The key is to start [customers] and then you develop credibility because you’re providing services A and B and doing a good job,” says Carrie Lewis, an analyst with the Yankee Group. “The hope is that they’ll add on to A and B with additional services.”

The lower-cost offerings available with Managed Services 3.0 use Loudcloud’s Opsware technology to automate the management of Web sites and include service-level agreements, which compensate customers with service credits beginning with the first minute of downtime. The services are available now.

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