Managed IT services firm adds eastern presence

Fusepoint Managed Services added a Montreal data center to its facilities roster this week, giving the firm a presence in three major Canadian cities.

Fusepoint offers customers a range of managed IT services and infrastructure, including security and business continuity. Fusepoint already has data centers in Toronto and Vancouver.

The Montreal facility could appeal to customers looking for a managed services provider with a Quebec presence, said Dan McLean, an analyst with research firm IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto.

“I think with Fusepoint, it’s clear they want to expand their national footprint and be seen as a company that has facilities and presence right across the country,” he said. “Having facilities in Quebec helps that perception.”

For customers seeking a fully managed service, the data centre location doesn’t matter, said Robert Offley, Fusepoint’s president and CEO. Fusepoint already has a number of Montreal customers hosted out of its Toronto data center, he noted.

“But,” he added, “I think psychologically there are some people who want to be close to their servers. And some business, especially government-based, you have to have a local facility, because provincial (government) people don’t want to host outside the province.”

Having access to a local data center appealed to Matthew Eichhorst, the executive vice-president of Vancouver-based CruiseShipCentres. CruiseShipCentres retails cruise vacations through 75 franchise operators across Canada.

Another big reason the company selected Fusepoint as its managed services partner was flexibility, Eichhorst said. Unlike other providers, he noted, Fusepoint didn’t try to shoehorn CruiseShipCentres into a package or pricing that CruiseShipCentres didn’t ask for.

“We didn’t want the co-location type services some of the smaller shops are offering,” he explained. “We wanted managed services, but not necessarily fully managed, because we wanted to manage the application and we wanted to manage the database and more of the application-specific components.”

Fusepoint hosts all of CruiseShipCentres’ infrastructure and manages the firm’s operating system and SQL database. Fusepoint also provides a shared firewall service, intrusiont detection, backup, restore and monitoring.

CruiseShipCentres is still able to make updates to its proprietary CruiseDesk application, which allows the company’s franchisees to book trips and keep track of their customers. The franchisees access CruiseDesk over IP virtual private networks. Eichhorst estimates 1,050 people use the CruiseDesk system.

Up to 70 per cent of Fusepoint’s customer base comes from mid-market customers like CruiseShipCentres, Offley estimated.

“The mid-market probably has the most to gain from what we offer in the sense that we can really bring the secure facilities and the special skillsets we have on our staff to mid-market firms at a reasonable cost,” he said. “Customers, even at the top end of the mid-market, don’t necessarily have all the skillsets and the facilities and we can really provide that on a utility basis, so they don’t need to recruit and retain specialists.”

While the lion’s share of Fusepoint’s business comes from mid-size companies, the firm also serves some small businesses and large enterprises. As a result, the company has a variety of competitors including Q9 Networks Inc., IBM Canada Ltd., CGI, Telus and other hosting and telecommunications firms.

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