At ITEXPO I met with Artisan Infrastructure's CEO Brian Hierholzer to discuss how Artisan offers a compelling cloud-based solution for MSPs and service providers. Brian explained that one problem with existing managed service providers (MSPs) is that they often compete against their service provider customers by building and selling applications. Brian explained that competitors such as Amazon and Rackspace are now offering their own hosted applications, which undercuts service providers trying to offer hosted applications such as BDR (backup & disaster recovery), email, and hosted phone services leveraging VoIP.
Artisan on the other hand is a 100% pure play wholesale infrastructure services provider. They don't do any business direct to end users so they don't compete against service providers that use their service to build applications. Service providers are free to build whatever applications they wish leveraging Artisan's VMware virtualized server instances and they are free to collect whatever margin on these applications that they wish. The product is called Cornerstone, a virtual Private Data Center (vPDC) platform for its wholesale, on-demand infrastructure.
They actually started as a telco in 2001 and when they decided to get into the MSP business they realized that in order to own the product portfolio you really need to own the infrastructure. Existing solutions didn't have control / granularity, didn't allow you to remount a virtualized snapshot, and didn't offer visibility into disk I/O. Brian explained when you think multi-tenancy you think of it from the customer-side and not from the service provider's point of view. Service providers require advanced and granular tool-sets to make sure everything is running up to par. So Artisan decided to build from the ground up their platform specifically designed with the service provider in mind. In their hosted offering they enable all the tools a service provider needs to build and manage their own solutions, including insights into disk I/O that is lacking in many competing solutions.
For instance, he claims their hosted offering is the only one with native controls within VMware. Another advantage is the ability to mirror within locations. i.e. primary and secondary site. They can do caching and analytics as well as provide granularity as to what can be cached or not. Brian also claimed to be the "industry's first voice grade infrastructure platform built for UC (unified communications)." Their solution allows you to measure QoS and MOS using 3rd party apps. Popular apps such as AppNeta can be used to measure LAN/WAN latency and VoIP quality. You can turn up Sagemcom for fax and Mitel for hosted voice switching (leveraging SIP). You can also easily deploy Microsoft's Lync UC platform using one of Artisan's pre-defined VMware images. Really, Artisan lets you choose best of breed applications on their open platform enabling MSPs to build a comprehensive suite of applications for their customers while retaining full control and full margins without concern that Artisan "could" compete with them at some future point in time.
Here's a brief intro from Brian explaining in a nutshell what Artisan Infrastructure does: