As demand for cloud-based delivery models for data protection services grew, how could Silverstring transform from a traditional systems integrator to an innovative managed services provider?
Silverstring developed Predatar—a solution that embeds IBM Spectrum Protect into a highly automated platform to deliver data protection services at speed, scale and low cost.
4xincrease in productivity for data protection management specialists
Enablesrapid delivery of data-protection-as-a-service offerings
Shrinksoperational costs and enables more flexible, profitable business models
Business challenge story
Targeting valuable opportunities
For IT service providers and resellers, the managed services provider (MSP) model offers substantial commercial benefits over traditional system integration, including healthier margins, greater share of wallet and long-term customer loyalty. However, the high barriers to attaining MSP status—including cost, headcount and infrastructure requirements—have prevented many businesses from achieving the transformation.
“In recent years, consumption-based delivery models for IT services have exploded in popularity,” explains Alistair Mackenzie, CEO at Silverstring. “As increasing numbers of businesses look for ways to spend less time, effort and resources on IT and invest more in their core competencies, we realized that our long-term success depended on capturing a share of the emerging managed services market.”
Like many established enterprises in the data protection space, Silverstring had initially built its success on solution delivery and integration services. In particular, as an IBM Premier Business Partner, Silverstring has gained years of experience in deploying, configuring and managing IBM Spectrum Protect solutions. The company saw an opportunity to leverage this deep expertise to drive its transformation.
Mackenzie continues: “Requirements around data management and protection are becoming more complex all the time. In addition to mitigating the growing risk of data breaches, our customers must contend with the proliferation of demanding analytics workloads, and the large volume, velocity and variety of data that come with them. And with data stored across a wide range of on-premises and cloud environments, protecting and managing sensitive data effectively is a bigger challenge than ever.
“We knew that enabling our customers to consume IBM Spectrum Protect as a managed service would solve these emerging challenges. But from an operations perspective, managed services businesses are labor intensive—and as a lean organization, we needed a highly efficient way to deliver our data protection services at speed and scale.”
Building a platform for business transformation
To solve the challenge, Silverstring developed Predatar—a lightweight, easy-to-use solution that embeds IBM Spectrum Protect into an automated management platform for customizable private and hybrid cloud services. Designed to run either on-premises or on SoftLayer cloud infrastructure, Predatar vastly reduces the cost and complexity of adopting the MSP business model.
“IBM was unique in that we could obtain the software, cloud infrastructure and services we needed to take our Predatar solution to market from just one provider,” comments Mackenzie. “Selecting a single-vendor solution enabled us to minimize the cost of developing Predatar, and gain the scalability we need to grow the solution worldwide.”
He adds: “We know that analysts such as Gartner see IBM as a leading player in the software-defined storage space—and the IBM product development roadmap for Spectrum Protect is perfectly aligned with our own long-term vision.”
Designed to deliver advanced automation, Predatar acts as a bridge between SoftLayer and Spectrum Protect—offering a “single pane of glass” interface for data protection and management at enterprise scale.
“Data protection is all about control,” says Mackenzie. “With SoftLayer, we have absolute sovereignty over our data. IBM offers us complete control over whether we place our data on virtual or bare metal servers, and—crucially—the geographical location our data is stored in. Better still, because SoftLayer is an open and extensible platform, we can open up development of the platform to a wider ecosystem of partners to add value by enhancing, extending and customizing the solution.”
Today, Silverstring uses Predatar to deliver enterprise-class managed services solutions to clients across the UK.
“Thanks to Predatar, we were able to vastly reduce the barriers to adopting the MSP model—and the IBM solution was a key enabler of our transformation,” explains Mackenzie. “Throughout the development process, we worked closely with the IBM development team for Spectrum Protect, which was a significant factor in the speed and ultimate success of our transformation process.”
Graeme Horncastle, UK&I Software Channel Leader at IBM, comments: "The IBM Channel team are extremely supportive of our long-standing business partner relationship with Silverstring and their continuing ability to provide innovative solutions to meet the ever-evolving needs of their existing and new clients.”
Driving global growth
By transforming from a systems integrator to an MSP, Silverstring has achieved its goal of winning a substantial share of a growing market.
“Everything that we do is customer-centric, and our customers want to increase the value of their investment in IT,” says Mackenzie. “By enabling our customers to consume IT services in a more flexible way, we can help them shrink their operational costs and focus on their core competencies.”
For example, Wincanton—a leading third-party logistics and supply chain service provider based in the UK—is already experiencing the benefits of the Predatar solution.
Phil Long, Technical Services Director at Wincanton, comments: “As a third-party logistics provider, customers entrust us with their business. It is important that we can associate the consumption and associated costs of valuable resources against each customer solution, and back them up with guaranteed service levels. There was a growing need to tailor our service catalogue in terms of bronze, silver and gold classifications, to allow each customer to choose the most appropriate level of service for their business.
“We saw the benefits of Silverstring’s data protection infrastructure almost immediately. The flexibility of Predatar, its ability to interpret data efficiently, and the overall simplicity of the way it tracks consumption and costs have helped us improve governance and data transparency significantly.”
Based on the success of its own business transformation, Silverstring is now offering IBM Business Partners around the world the opportunity to use Predatar to fast-track their journeys to MSP status.
“We recognized a major opportunity to bring the benefits of the solution to other IBM Business Partners,” explains Mackenzie. “From an operations perspective, building an MSP business is extremely labor-intensive. To keep headcount and costs under control, automation is vital.
“Because Predatar offers billing, service-level agreements and service management capabilities straight out of the box, partners with IBM Spectrum Protect experience can gain enterprise-class MSP capabilities rapidly. In fact, Predatar boosts our clients’ management productivity by up to a factor of four—enabling business partners to manage more customers with fewer FTEs. And as the MSP space becomes more crowded, Predatar’s ease of management is a vital source of competitive advantage.”
One early adopter of Predatar was Dynamix Group, an IBM Business Partner headquartered in Roswell, Georgia, USA.
Ken Beckman, Solutions Architect at Dynamix Group, comments: “From a backup perspective, we would typically only be brought in to help when a client had a specific project or challenge. However, I had a vision that the business could move towards a managed services model for data protection on an ongoing basis.
“We needed a means of managing 20 accounts in an efficient way. Predatar quickly proved its worth in helping the team with the fully managed and co-managed accounts we deliver. Having built a business case, we launched our first full service offering for data protection within just 18 months.”
As its user base of clients and IBM Business Partners grows steadily, Silverstring continues to collaborate closely with IBM to develop the Predatar solution.
“The latest version of Predatar includes new disaster recovery capabilities, enabling our clients to provision and recover systems on demand in the SoftLayer cloud,” comments Mackenzie. “Looking ahead, we have plans to incorporate IBM Cloud Object Storage into the solution—helping our clients to identify the optimal workloads and data to migrate to the cloud.”
Mackenzie concludes: “MSPs simply cannot afford to let customers down. To protect our hard-won customer loyalty, we need to deliver exceptional data protection services 24x7—and IBM is the ideal partner for our growing business.”
About Silverstring Limited
Founded in 2002 and headquartered in Bloxham, England, Silverstring is a specialist provider of storage management and data protection services and solutions. Silverstring’s comprehensive portfolio includes hybrid cloud data protection, storage virtualization and data archiving. The company’s flagship product is Predatar—a smart, lightweight and easy-to-use solution that embeds IBM Spectrum Protect into an automated data protection platform for customizable private and hybrid cloud services.
- Spectrum Protect (inc CDM)
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