MSS exploits data centre split

In an attempt to take advantage of what it calls the “splitting up of the traditional data centre ecosystem,” Montreal’s Coradiant Inc. has released its second-generation suite of managed network services, dubbed OutSmart.

Formed in February of this year, the so-called “pure-play managed service provider” offers Web-enabled companies the ability to outsource the ownership and maintenance of its Web infrastructure. According to Coradiant, these include functions such as load-balancing, security, content acceleration, and health-checking.

Alistair Croll, Coradiant’s President and CEO, said his company is aiming to capture a share of the “netsourcing” market, which he expects to grow at a 68 per cent compound annual rate over the next three years.

Coradiant originally began life three years ago as a networking consultancy based in Montreal called Networkshop. The company switched gears earlier this year after releasing a report which envisioned the coming horizontal split of the co-located data centre. Instead of companies like Exodus Communications, which aim to handle every aspect of a company’s Web business, Networkshop said the data centre was becoming inhabited by companies offering specialized services.

The consultancy assembled these companies into five categories: the physical infrastructure experts, who handle leases, zoning, roof access and other issues surrounding server hotels; the access providers who deal with connectivity, routing, addressing and peering arrangements; the service infrastructure companies, such as Coradiant, that act as ambassadors between the network and the application, managing services and performing layer 4-through-7 functions; the processing firms that provide computational capacity atop which businesses transact; and the storage providers that offer on-demand storage, replication and data recovery services.

Croll compared this new data-centre model with the horizontal split which hit the computing market in the ’80s, a time when firms such as IBM and HP offered all components – chips, machines, operating systems and applications.

San Francisco’s Recruitsoft, which offers a hiring management solution over the Web, is an example of a company employing various companies in the new data centre model. The company uses UUNET as its data centre host and bandwidth provider, and Coradiant for its managed services, including load-balancing. The company is now considering outsourcing its storage needs.

“You can imagine the salaries, paying for people that are experts in that kind of stuff,” explained Annette LaFrance, an IS Director at Recruitsoft’s research and development facility in Quebec City.

“(Coradiant) test all of the equipment,” she added. “I remember that they had 31 different kinds of load-balancers in their labs and they were testing all of them. They went and chose a load-balancer that was completely compatible with our application. We couldn’t possibly do this in our goal for a quick time to market.”

Croll said most of his company’s customers are similar to Recruitsoft. That is, they are looking for a time-to-market benefit and instant expertise when they outsource services.

Coradiant’s CFO, Thanos Moschopoulos, said Coradiant’s customers also receive a financial bonus by getting the chance to share infrastructure such as load-balancers with other customers.

Some Web switches can handle 10,000 connections per second, Moschopoulos said, while a company with only 1Mbps of bandwidth only gets 61 connections per second. Therefore, he said, companies often are paying for equipment they don’t need.

Croll said concerns about the security of sharing infrastructure are not an issue.

“We share infrastructure,” he said simply. “That said, so is the telephone system (shared), and people aren’t afraid to make phone calls.”

Croll said his company is targeting the ASP and independent software vendor as its core market. The company charges customers on a monthly basis – usually between $10,000 to $50,000.

Coradiant recently completed a US$20 million first round of venture-capital financing. Croll said the company plans to use the money to support growth in its global e-business infrastructure.

Coradiant can be found on the web at