Leeds-based managed services provider Firstnet Solutions has opened its first datacentre and has laid out ambitions to hit £50m revenue in five years' time.
The 400-rack facility - previously an NHS datacentre - will give Firstnet its own cloud, colocation and disaster recovery services, with the firm previously outsourcing these capabilities to third parties.
Speaking to CRN sales and marketing director Joey Hemingbrough (pictured, left, with co-owners David and Angie Cusworth) said the MSP has set itself ambitious growth targets, aiming to hit £10 revenue by next year, £20m in the next three years and £50 in five years' time.
Firstnet will offer its own cloud platform, built on Nutanix, and Hemingbrough explained the firm wanted to own a datacentre to give SMBs a more affordable cloud option, claiming they are often frozen out by public cloud providers.
"The challenge with other platforms is cloud has come from an enterprise background and it's enterprise focused," she said.
"I just don't think it's scalable for small-to-medium businesses and that's where we're from - we're an MSP that provides enterprise support services to SMBs, so it's a natural fit for our business and it's nice to be able to offer a platform that scales up, but more importantly scales down.
"Our key focus, especially around the marketing piece, is we're a small business so it's translating it into a language that small businesses can understand and I think often that message gets lost in translation between the big boys and the little customers which can be quite daunting, so we're trying to remove that headache."
In conjunction with the launch, Firstnet has moved itself to the datacentre facility, making it the firm's new HQ in the centre of Leeds.
The facility is set to drive significant headcount growth, adding 100 new staff to the MSP's current employee base of 20 over the next two years.
Heminbrough said Firstnet will continue to focus on the SMB space, but will also make the datacentre available to other channel firms struggling with the lack of datacentre facilities in the north east.
"There aren't very many datacentre facilities between Birmingham and probably Durham on the east coast," she said. "There are obviously lots on the west coast side with Manchester, but within the next two years we will also be becoming tier 3 certified with the Uptime Institute, so we're going to invest into the datacentre."
"The co-location side will be predominantly focused on offering vanilla, so selling to resellers, because again there just isn't much in terms of facilities in our area."
Heminbrough said that Firstnet looks up to Manchester-based managed hosting provider UKFast as an example of a firm that was started from scratch and has scaled up its operations over recent years.
Lawrence Jones, CEO at UKFast, praised Firstnet for its ambition and said that more MSPs need to follow suit in owning their own datacentres, not just relying on the likes of Amazon Web Services and Microsoft.
"It is a real honour and lovely to hear a younger business that is potentially competing in the same space being open and honest about where they're aspiring to get to," he said. "I'm going to make sure I connect with those guys because we'll have joint services that we'll probably be able to help each other with to do with monitoring and that sort of thing.
"I think owning your datacentre is a really important thing if you're going to look after your customers. We rented them for years and it really did create a problem for us being able to deliver the highest SLAs because datacentres by their very nature didn't want to raise that SLA level, so we ended up having to build our own.
"It is tremendously positive for the area, especially the north east. For the northern powerhouse it is great that Manchester has this huge tech community but we need more of them."
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