Aptum launches first hybrid cloud management service on heels of new channel program launch

Aptum, formerly Cogeco Peer 1 until a rebranding last year, revamped its Go-to-market strategy going forward and is executing on that amid the disruption caused by the Wuhan coronavirus.

Susan Bowen, Aptum’s CEO

Managed hosting and cloud services provider Aptum is aggressively focused on establishing both its new brand and its restructured Go-to-Market model, which includes a largely new management team and a greater role for the company’s channel partners. Today they are announcing a new service, Hybrid Cloud Manager, powered by HyperGrid, which provides the company’s first-ever offering for a management platform that manages private and public cloud environments through a single pane of glass. It follows up the launch two weeks ago of a new channel program designed to bring more standardization across the geos in which Aptum operates.

Susan Bowen, Aptum’s CEO, is one of the few senior holdovers in the company, since she was briefly President and CEO of Cogeco Peer 1  before investment firm Digital Colony acquired them from Cogeco last year and rebranded them.  Last year, the management of the data centre business was restructured with the hire of Leigh Plumley as CRO, Cindy Jordan-Ford as EVP, Global Strategic Accounts & Alliances, and Jeremy Pease as Chief Operating Officer. Now a new CIO hire – who can’t yet be named – will start at the beginning of April, completing the Aptum senior executive team.

“The CIO hire has taken longer than I wanted,” Bowen said.

Central to both the overall Aptum strategy going forward and the new Hybrid Cloud Manager service that is part of it, is the vision of data as infrastructure.

“The roadmap is very much about the manipulation of data as infrastructure,” Bowen said. “Customers care less if it is public or private or PaaS. They want a combination of all of those. So it’s all about managing that data as infrastructure.”

Bowen acknowledged that general vision is shared today by pretty much all cloud service providers, but emphasized that Aptum has advantages in being able to more fully deliver on it.

“The difference with our vision is we have a full suite of products around that, from storage as a service to cloud management,” she said. “We own that infrastructure, and share it and manage it for clients. In addition, we have some further exciting elements coming out.”

The element that Aptum is launching today is Hybrid Cloud Manager, powered by HyperGrid, a management platform for both public and private clouds that provides a service that gives a single interface for assessment, monitoring, optimization, provisioning and governance.

“We have had portals for managing Azure and AWS, but this provides multi-cloud access and we didn’t have that in our portfolio previously,” Bowen said. “Organizations historically have geared up with single portal solutions. Here, we do everything for multiple portals with a single dashboard, a single pane of glass that allows us to access, monitor provision and govern both private and hyperscale clouds.”

Aptum’s Hybrid Cloud Manager provides tools and APIs to give customers the capability of multi-cloud management around cloud migration assessments, cloud planning and application insights, cloud cost management and optimization, security and governance, cloud and multi-cloud configuration and compliance.

“This is not something that is unique, but this platform will allow IT to better optimize cloud environments,” Bowen stated. Lots of organizations have to manage costs. The reality is they have to move their workloads around, and have a combination of colos, private clouds and public cloud space to manage.”

Bowen indicated a couple of other items are coming on the roadmap.

“We are investing in DevOps as a service in the coming months, and in Disaster Recovery as-a-service [DraaS],” she said.

Cogeco Peer 1 had an erratic channel history, moving between a direct focus and a channel-friendlier model more than once, and Bowen has emphasized that the new company will bring more predictability there. Part of that is a redo of their partner program.

“The one area that we have had to completely change is our channel program,” she said. “We had a lot of complex legacy schemes, depending on where you were in the world. We’ve been trying to push very hard on reinvigorating our channel model.

“Two weeks ago, we launched our new program, which has both resell and referral components and is based around a high up-front commission,” Bowen stated. “It is focused on three primary regions – Canada, the US and the UK.” This Aptum Referral & Reseller Program replaces six different legacy programs with one consolidated program and agreement designed to make it easier for partners to do business with Aptum.

Bowen said that they are driving this out to the kind of partners where it makes sense – with the Softchoice type of resellers where they wrap Aptum around their offerings.

“We have also invested in new channel sales teams, although that has taken longer than what we wanted it to be,” she added. “Something like Hybrid Cloud Manager is also important for partners because it is a productized solution for the channel network.”

While Aptum had anticipated driving forward aggressively this year with these new elements in place in their strategy, like most companies, their plans for the year have been disrupted by the Wuhan coronavirus. Bowen said that while small businesses are worst hit, along with specific verticals like the hospitality industry, companies like themselves that aren’t as directly threatened by the virus are still impacted.

“I’m disappointed with what COVID-19 will do to our demand generation,” Bowen said. “Shows are being cancelled that we had planned to attend, like the Collision conference in Toronto. We are now speaking at that online.”

TECHNATION [formerly ITAC] also had an event cancelled.

“We are collaborating with governments in Ontario and Quebec, and building relationships with people in government through this kind of group,”  Bowen indicated.

While Aptum’s services themselves are less vulnerable than many IT companies who more typically do work at customer sites, and their business continuity planning was tested for a pandemic situation, Bowen also indicated they are not immune there.

“We do have some clients who work with infrastructure for global bookings,” she said. “Even though our services are 99% technology, and so are less impacted than other companies, there is still a heightened need to protect our workforce, as there are people who reach out to clients to make sure they are getting what they need.”