Cloud data crunching


I recently invested in an IT solutions company, APSU, which is a merger of two UK-based companies, Apex Computers International and AssurIT. The purpose of the merger was to create a stronger combined offering, particularly in the Managed Services, Cloud Computing, High Availability (HA) and Disaster Recovery (DR) spaces.

The reason I was interested in this business was that it is probably the closest I can get to a “bricks and mortar” business and still be very much in the “cloud”. Managed Services, in my mind, is the way to go for an increasing number of tasks, and with the evolving speed and reliability of communications in general, managing even complex tasks remotely is completely viable, and will be simple plug-and-play utilities in most cases moving forward.

Steve Ellis, MD at APSU

It is not just the financial aspect that makes it interesting for companies to go with a managed service solution; it is the peace of mind more than anything. Many companies have dedicated in-house IT departments, despite their core business being in a completely different industry, and it does take away the focus from what they should be doing.

At AME Info, we have used 24/7 managed hosting since 2000 so that we could focus on content and developing customer relations and products – in other words, doing what we had set out to do while a competent team deals with all the stuff under the hood. Having to patch, update and make sure that everything is running, optimized and safe is a business in itself.

Outsourcing your IT infrastructure obviously requires a huge amount of trust and ability, which is not something one can set up and deliver overnight – and trust is something you can only earn over time, which is why a merger of the two businesses was obvious, as there was hardly any overlap at all. As part of the merger, I went along to meet some of the customers to get a feel for the business, as well as their requirements and concerns. One thing that became apparent to me was that the research segment often lacks the storage, the computing power and sometimes even the technical skills needed to cope with the deluge of genomic data.

The storage and computing power required to deal with bioinformatics, for example, is extraordinary, and a cloud computing solution seems like a logical next step to meet these requirements. Paul Flicek, a bioinformatician at the European Bioinformatics Institute near Cambridge, UK, recently stated that “if somebody can produce a cloud service that™s ideal for bioinformatics and costs less than Amazon, there™s a niche market there they could really capture.”