Web hoster builds data centre on TD Bank foundation

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Walking into Fusepoint Managed Services Inc.’s front entrance is rather like climbing aboard Noah’s Ark: there’s two of everything.

The Vancouver-spawned managed services provider is putting its

money where its marketing message is with the Monday opening of its Mississauga, Ont., data centre. It offers redundancies, starting with twin incoming main feeders from Mississauga Hydro. In some cases, there’s more than two of each component.

The 85,000 sq. ft. facility has three standby generators (only one would be required to run the data centre in the event of a power failure), more than 30,000 litres of diesel fuel on hand and two fully independent universal power supply (UPS) systems.

The data centre, which was formerly the property of Canada Trust and operated for more than five years, is “”third-generation envelope-style.”” The actual data centre area — 25,000 sq. ft. of two foot raised tile floor — is in the middle of the building, surrounded by the engineering systems, including 42 air handling units (twice as many as required) capable of delivering 10,000 cubic feet of air per minute. The engineering corridors are just one more layer separating the data centre floor itself from the outside world.

Gaining entrance to the facility is rather like walking into the headquarters of the CIA. You’ll find yourself in a small lobby and asked to sign in with the man behind the glass. The facility entrance and security areas are protected with bulletproof glass rated for small bore NATO missiles.

All this is to take a stab at the burgeoning managed services market in Canada, according to Fusepoint CEO Robert Offley.

Fusepoint is more than just Web hosting or co-location services, he says, although if that’s all the customer wants, it’s available. Fusepoint’s focus is on maintaining transaction-heavy Web sites, ERP systems, CRM solutions and even disaster recovery.

“There’s a lot of people in the low-end market,” says Offley, “but there’s no real value-add. In Canada there are not many options for managed services.”

He sees Fusepoint offering more complex solutions than a co-location firm, but not going as far as full-fledged outsourcer such as IBM or EDS. Instead, Offley calls it “incremental IT”: a customer can choose to outsource one aspect of their requirements to Fusepoint.

For example, Fusepoint (originally known as Roundheaven) is partnered with Vancouver-based Pivotal to provide CRM. It can provide end-to-end support to the customer, including software patch updates. Offley says it very much depends on the customer.

Currently Fusepoint has 35 technical staff split between its Vancouver and Mississauga data centres, with more than 80 technical certifications among them.

It was the quality of Fusepoint’s technical people that impressed Blair Whelan, CTO and founder of RewardStream. The Vancouver-based firm hosts and manages customer loyalty, retention and rewards programs for large companies, including Canadian-based Telus Mobility and Grand & Toy, as well as U.S.-based Cingular Wireless. “Because our clients are very large they need a high level of comfort in terms of the security of the installation, the reliability and the uptime,” says Whelan.

RewardStream’s proprietary platform helps its customer roll out new loyalty programs quickly, and can be integrated with their billing or CRM systems. All of this happens at Fusepoint.

“All of our production operations are completely outsourced to Fusepoint,” says Whelan. “What Fusepoint does for us is provide the data center infrastructure. They manage all of the servers for us, so they provide all of the systems engineers who manage them. They really provide our complete operations for us. We don’t need to have operations people.”

Managed services can be a murky term, however. According to Lise Dellazizzo, analyst with IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto, hosting is not enough to qualify as a managed service.

“The idea behind managed applications or outsourced applications is that you’re not just running apps out of a box,” she says. “You have to provide all of the support for that application.”

Dellazizzo says there is a market for smaller, niche vertical expertise, but it’s usually the large enterprise-type software that gets outsourced. “They tend to be bigger deals. When it comes to application outsourcing the deals tend to be on the enterprise side so there’s not a lot of small stuff.”

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Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson is a Toronto-based freelance writer who has written thousands of words for print and pixel in publications across North America. His areas of interest and expertise include software, enterprise and networking technology, memory systems, green energy, sustainable transportation, and research and education. His articles have been published by EE Times, SolarEnergy.Net, Network Computing, InformationWeek, Computing Canada, Computer Dealer News, Toronto Business Times and the Ottawa Citizen, among others.

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