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Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Steve Knipple, CTO of EasyStreet (Part 2)

Posted on Friday, Jul 4th 2014

Steve Knipple: We take a highly consultative approach with those people and we do systems engineering with them, and we help them transition into a cloud platform. Those are the two things. We have the enterprise market. We are the augmentation of an internal IT department providing compute capacity and management services. In SaaS play, we are talking directly to developers.

Sramana Mitra: I’d like to double-click down on each of those segments to understand the dynamics. The enterprise segment obviously has a lot of vendors in that category. What is it that makes you different? Whom do you compete with and how do you win?

Steve Knipple: We take a highly consultative approach to that business. We recognize that there is a lot of confusion in this market and there are a lot of options. An engagement with EasyStreet usually starts out with some kind of a highly consultative – almost management consulting type of approach. It’s very common for our customers to come to us as a trusted advisor and say, “We’re not exactly sure where cloud fits in our portfolio. We’re not sure where managed services fit into our portfolio.” We will actually work with customers in that consultative approach. In the beginning, we’ll say, “Here are some options. This is what the landscape looks like.” Sometimes, it’s not a right fit for us and we send them to someone who is a more appropriate fit. When there is a fit, we have a large engineering staff and we have a lot of experience in reverse engineering existing deployments and migrating those into a managed services over a cloud platform.

We’ve done a really good job creating enterprise-class operations all based on ITIL. We are very strong in incident management, problem management, and change management. This is something that we think differentiates us in the marketplace.

Sramana Mitra: What is the positioning vis-à-vis the SaaS and PaaS segments? Whom are you competing with?

Steve Knipple: It depends upon the deal. If a customer has a large on-premise focus and is still buying some gear, we often interact with some traditional hardware resellers. But then we find out that those resellers often have difficulty with on-going management and operations, so that usually helps us win the deal. Also in the enterprise space, there aren’t many firms out there that really take a highly consultative approach. We almost liken ourselves to a mini-IBM for the SMB space. Some of these companies may be very large but are too small for a firm like that. They are getting that kind of service from us. In the Portland metro area, we don’t see a lot of direct competition.

Sramana Mitra: Is there a geographic bias in your business? Are you working mainly in Oregon?

Steve Knipple: Currently, we are. Over the last three years, we have acquired more international and national customers than local customers. This is a big change. We have customers from New Zealand and Australia. We have customers from Chicago and the East Coast. As we grew and as our abilities grew, that bias from being a local and regional provider has really changed. We are dramatically shifting into a national and international provider. Of course, that will introduce more competition. Every time we go into a new market, we are looking at who the players are and how we can continue to differentiate ourselves against them.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Steve Knipple, CTO of EasyStreet
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