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1Mby1M Deal Radar 2011: Artisan Infrastructure, Austin, Texas

Posted on Monday, Dec 19th 2011

Artisan Infrastructure (AI) is a wholesale infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provider that delivers infrastructure on demand through a global network of more than 250 service providers. Partners include national and international managed service providers, systems integrators, software developers, communications providers and value added resellers. Artisan Infrastructure helps its partners eliminate the capital expense of building and maintaining high-quality, scalable infrastructure and minimize operational and engineering overhead.

The company, which earned $3 million in revenue in 2011, was founded in 2010 to fill a void in the market, when the Artisan Communications team had an ah-hah moment. They needed infrastructure but required native visibility and control of the underlying architecture to effectively serve customers. No one at the time was providing flexible and controllable infrastructure strictly for service providers. Since owning the end customer is sacred to service providers, they would rather package and brand their services as their own than resell someone else’s. Smart service providers look for vendors who only cater to the channel and do not compete with them thus, avoiding any channel conflict.

Artisan Infrastructure’s trademark Cornerstone offering allows service providers to maintain complete autonomy, control, security and visibility they desire when they build their own private and public cloud solutions. Cornerstone scales from single site, secure multi-tenant environments to highly complex, dedicated infrastructure on multiple continents for redundancy and failover.

President and CEO Brian Hierholzer started out doing sales management for MCI. Other roles Hierholzer performed include leading sales initiatives for LightCore, a wholesale fiber transport carrier, and New Edge networks, the first nationwide tier two and tier three digital subscriber line (DSL) wholesale carrier in the telecom industry. In 2001, Hierholzer created a competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) called Artisan Communications, which resold Southwestern Bell Telephone in a 13-state region. Then, the company, which focused on the SMB (small and medium business) sector, shifted focus to VoIP in 2004. Artisan Infrastructure was incubated out of Artisan Communications.

Competitors for Artisan Infrastructure include such traditional IaaS providers as Rackspace, Amazon, Verizon/Terremark and Nirvanix. The company says it trumps its competitors by only selling to service providers, not re-selling third-party solutions and allowing native visibility and control of the underlying architecture.

Artisan Infrastructure’s beachhead lies within the recognition that service providers are looking for a shorter time to market for independent software vendor (ISV) applications. With that in mind, the company launched Certified Solution Ecosystem (CSE), which certifies ISV applications on AI’s infrastructure. Certified Solution Ecosystem is designed to facilitate a direct relationship between service providers and ISVs and expedites the selection, adoption, and deployment of software solutions already certified to perform on Cornerstone.

Not long ago, only the largest service providers could build and offer broad product portfolios because of the massive capital investment requirements and daunting nature of such an undertaking. For smaller managed service providers (MSP), deterrents included a need for engineering resources and technical skills to evaluate various vendor solutions and concern about unproven solutions; solutions so technically complex that IT personnel needed advanced engineering skills for solution certifications and architectural design; and prohibitive costs for infrastructure resources to build, test and try complex solutions.

Artisan Infrastructure’s new program invests the capital and provides the technical skills to make a wide array of applications available to smaller SPs, which eliminates the aforementioned barriers to entry. Certified Solution Ecosystem empowers smaller SPs to be more agile, significantly reduce their time to market, simplify complex architectures and enhance simplicity by using solution deployment templates.

According to market research firm IDC in its Worldwide and Regional Public IT Cloud Services 2011-2015 Forecast, public cloud computing services will fuel the IT industry for the next 25 years. With growth forecast at 27.6% per year, it could become a $72.9 billion market by 2015. And IDC further estimates that public cloud computing will account for 46% of all new growth in IT spending, most notably in applications, app development and deployment, infrastructure, storage and servers. Of this growth, the U.S. will represent 50% of all public cloud services spending in 2015.

Artisan Infrastructure’s offerings are horizontally focused, catering to service providers across all verticals. These offerings allow enable services like hosted servers, high-availability mirroring, disaster recovery solutions, security, print and document management, NetApp as a service among others. The company has half a dozen ISV applications certified in each of its offerings. In 2012, AI expects to certify more applications in each category as well as expand into additional technology categories. Pricing is a pay-per-use and pay-as-you-grow utility model aligned with the cloud pricing model.

In 2011, the company experienced 400% increase in staff and expects employee numbers to double in 2012. It intends to continue increasing its customer base through lead generation via sources like industry peer groups, trade shows, PR campaigns, joint partner campaigns and even some cold calling.

A profitable, self-funded company, Artisan Infrastructure is not currently considering an exit strategy.

Recommended Reading:
The 1M/1M Deal Radar 2010: Xvand, Houston, Texas
Top 10 Cloud Computing Trends for the Decade

This segment is a part in the series : 1Mby1M Deal Radar 2011

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