Ark Data Centres has insisted it is not encroaching on the territory of managed services providers with its new government tie-up.
Crown Hosting Data Centres (CHDC) is a joint venture between Ark and the government and was set up in March. The unit - which is a profit-making arm of Ark but is watched over by a number of government bodies - aims to help the public sector transition to the cloud by offering them interim datacentre hosting services on a flexible basis.
The government has been a strong advocate of a cloud-first approach for some time now, and Ark's head of sales Peter McShane, who helped establish CHDC, admitted the firm gets regularly questioned on how his company's datacentre business fits in with that.
"We get asked this all the time," he told CRN. "Crown Hosting is not meant to be an alternative track - it is part and parcel of the digital strategy. Crown Hosting is seen as a transition between a client's current state of affairs to a fully virtualised environment. So [any department] which has multiple datacentres which they own or outsource, the idea is to lift those up initially into Crown, then do the transformation to cloud, public cloud, or more efficient infrastructure."
When the venture was first announced in the spring, some managed services players were initially wary, McShane added, but he insisted his firm's offering is actually complementary to what the channel offers.
"For those that have not understood us, there is always concern because we're another vehicle and we don't have a lot of visibility," he said. "As the managed services community have got more familiar with us, what they've recognised is [we] help move projects a lot faster and help give customers and government departments reassurance about the safety of their data and infrastructure.
"It gives [channel] organisations a lot more opportunities to wrap more services around the platform. We've had a positive response. And of course, when a government department saves a fortune in one area, it allows them to invest in other areas like applications. So they spend less on bricks and mortar and more on end services and that's good news for the wider IT space."
CHDC hosts government data that is labelled from ‘official' to ‘secret' and ‘top secret'. McShane said security is an important part of Ark's offering because it will provide a long-term future for the subsidiary. As more and more of the public sector move to the cloud, the need to use services such as those offered by CHDC will shrink, he said.
"Over time, in terms of legacy infrastructure, it is a declining model," he said. "But what is an increasing model is there is a need in government to have private infrastructure for very sensitive data so we expect the government to continue to use that. That will stabilise any level of churn. When you're talking about secret and top-secret data, it is unlikely to go anywhere else."
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