Google's longest-standing UK partner is aiming to double its business over the next two years, partly on the back of Google making more of the APIs that underpin its technology available to the channel.
Ancoris became Google's first UK test partner in 2007, and by 2010 had fully completed its transition to a self-styled born-in-the-cloud provider, specialising in Google technology.
But Ancoris CEO David McLeman (pictured) told CRN that the firm's future lies increasingly in developing applications using Google's APIs, rather than reselling Google's core services.
Ancoris currently has 37 staff, but is this week moving into new offices that will support its goal of doubling headcount by 2019, he explained.
"We have seen a colossal increase in the number of new business applications we are building for clients," - David McLeman, Ancoris
Ancoris' early cloud engagements were around moving utility services such as email to the cloud, he said. In about 2012, the focus switched to widespread adoption of collaboration services, but by 2014 wider acceptance of the cloud meant customers were starting to experiment with how they could use public cloud to gain extra insight from their data, McLeman explained.
That prompted Ancoris to acquire a small firm that was using Google's App Engine platform-as-a-service offering to develop applications. This threw it into contact with Google's APIs.
"Over the last three years, Google has opened up more and more of its own infrastructure, both in terms of the ability to migrate existing workloads - in similar ways to Amazon - but they've also opened up more and more of that secret sauce that allows Google to be so special," McLeman said.
"A lot of the APIs that Google has, and a lot of the machine learning and intelligence that underpins its core consumer products, is being opened up in a way that allows us to provide business services to customers, and help them rethink how they can get extra value from their data."
Ancoris is now doing a roaring trade around the APIs Google makes available around Google Maps, McLeman said. This could enable it to, for instance, help insurance companies improve how claims are handled by giving them greater insight into where the assets being insured are located, he explained.
"Google is also opening up APIs to look at media and images, which allows you to start getting insight into people's media archives," McLeman added. "They now allow us to do searches for things like a 'happy man', or a 'blue car', and to search through media archives to pull out insights just by analysing images. They can do that just because of the machines they've trained through things like Google Photos.
"So for us as a business, in the last two years in particular, we have seen a colossal increase in the number of new business applications we are building for clients."
Ancoris now draws half of its gross margin from application development and application managed services, while 30 per cent of its staff are application developers, according to McLeman. Its traditional deployment activities have dropped to a half of revenues.
Starting life as a Microsoft information and security management consultancy in 2003, Ancoris made the decision to abandon its reseller roots in 2007 after the financial meltdown led to a spending crunch among its core clients, which included three of the largest four UK banks.
At that time, it already drew 15 per cent of its revenues from Postini, and Ancoris made the decision to throw its weight behind Google after Google acquired the email security specialist in that year.
McLeman said Ancoris is therefore strictly speaking a 'reborn-in-the-cloud' provider.
"We were the first pilot partner for Google's partner programme in the UK; it was very, very early days [for cloud] at that point - companies like Amazon didn't really have a channel model at all, so we were definitely one of the early pioneers," said McLeman.
Ancoris no longer has the market to itself since a raft of SIs and resellers, including Computacenter, got skilled up on AWS and other public cloud technologies, but McLeman maintained that the firm has remained one step ahead of the game.
"When people look at the breadth of experience we've got, it isn't just on infrastructure," he said. "Just migrating infrastructure is going to become a relatively commoditised process, and we see quite a few of the big players, like Rackspace and Claranet, getting into that. But the piece about really taking advantage of the cloud and transforming business processes is a step higher up the stack.
"The real benefit [of cloud] to a business comes when you take advantage of some of the other services that are becoming available; things like machine learning; some of these public APIs that expose ways of enriching your business data: those are the areas where I don't feel there are a lot of skills sets in the market, and where we certainly feel we are differentiated."
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