Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but executives from both companies described it as a non-exclusive relationship through which IBM will use Q9’s services to complement its professionals services offerings, while Q9 hopes to attract the attention of customers who require more products and expertise that a company like IBM could provide.
“We will continue to pursue opportunities on our own. In some cases we will pull in IBM. On some, we’ll co-bid,” said Osama Arafat, president of Q9 Networks. “The real opportunity for Q9 is that it really broadens the market we can go after.”
Q9 has data centres in downtown Toronto, a former Exodus facility it bought in Brampton and a third in downtown Calgary which is being expanded for next year. Overall, Q9 is investing $65 million in data centre build-outs, Arafat said. Although Q9 has offered a referral program in which partners can earn money for brining business to the company, this marks Q9’s first formal reseller agreement, he added.
IBM has long offered its own hosting and collocation services, predominantly through its Ontario data centre, but the company wanted an alternative, said IBM Canada business unit executive for managed service Bob Wilie. Q9 was chosen for the location of its data centres, the biometric security it uses to protect client infrastructure and the overall quality of its facilities, he said.
“We are seeing quite a number of requests from customers looking for data centres,” he said. “They want high availability, and they’re looking for two site options. There’s a lot of data mirroring, they’re looking at speeding recovery time objectives. They want two centres close enough to generate strong solutions, but far enough away that they adhere to their disaster recovery policies.”
Since it opened six years ago, Q9 has signed up a number of high-profile Canadian customers, including Indigo, TD Securities and many others.
“Many of our customers are already a customer of IBM’s for something or the other,” Arafat said, adding the deal might mean those firms would give Q9 more of their business. “We’ve seen many RFPs for colocation, bandwidth and professional services or application management, and in some cases we would only bid on a component of them.”
The bulk of the attention that most customers are giving is for disaster recovery options, a lot in managed security space, harden their infrastructures and elements around managing server management and storage that could be extended to customers to allow them to displace their own labour and use more managed capabilities.
Wilie said the rise of virtualization has not dampened the need for enterprises to farm out some of their data centre chores.
“There may be less physical images, but the same number of logical images. (Virtualization) doesn’t reduce the number of facilities they require,” he said. “Some servers are significantly hotter, they generate a lot more heat. Even though they take a smaller footprint, they require cooling capabilities and power capabilities that before would been across a broader footprint.”