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Sooraj Shah

Contributing Editor

Sooraj Shah is Contributing Editor of New Statesman Tech with a focus on C-level IT leader interviews. He is also a freelance technology journalist.

“Customers are now more discerning about moving to the public cloud,” says Pulsant’s Rob Coupland

Pulsant is a data centre and cloud infrastructure business, that focuses on the UK mid-market – it aims to help organisations that are going through a transformation, particularly from an on-premises environment to a cloud environment. The company operates 10 data centres that cover the UK stretching from London in the south to Edinburgh in the North, and it counts the likes of the NHS, Newcastle FC and Kwik Fit as its customers.

A huge part of the company’s business is in managed services. According to CEO Rob Coupland, 85 per cent of the company’s revenue comes from co-location services, managed network services and private cloud. The latter two make up nearly two-thirds of the turnover for the business.

“We provide IT infrastructure services, so that’s things like private cloud, network infrastructure, or just the data centre – but what we wrap around that is other services like security for data centre, networks and cloud platforms, storage, back-up, disaster recovery and other services,” he says.

The company offers managed services for cloud platforms including Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform. But unlike other IT infrastructure companies, managed services is not something new for the company.

“What makes us different to other data centre companies is that when we started we offered managed services – we’ve always been a managed services provider, starting with managed hosting about a decade ago,” he says.

According to Coupland, demand has switched from the managed hosting offering to the multi-tenant private cloud offering, but he says that more surprisingly, a big part of the business is still in co-location services.

“We’re still seeing a strong demand for co-location and perhaps even more so than previous years because businesses 18 months to two years ago were all thinking of moving to the public cloud, but now they’re more selective about where they put their workloads,” he says.

The company’s customer base mainly consists of UK regional businesses, for whom many still deliver their IT services in a traditional way. But as digital transformation has quickly caught their attention, these businesses are looking for some support – particularly as they don’t have the same resources as big businesses in their IT teams.

“This is where they look for providers like us to help with their journey – and their aspiration is often expressed as moving everything to the cloud. When you dig deeper, they’re looking for flexibility and the ability to access apps and systems from different locations,” says Coupland.

In addition, these mid-market enterprises are particularly concerned about cost management, especially as they still use many traditional IT systems and services, and this is what attracts them to the idea of the private cloud as they see it as a way to not have to maintain their own infrastructure, and give them the flexibility of cloud computing, while managing costs.

“So even though you have these big cloud companies attracting the headlines, regional businesses are looking for regional partners to help them through this journey,” he says.

The future

Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy told delegates at AWS:reInvent last year that only 3 per cent of all IT workloads were in the cloud – and Coupland believes that this illustrates how much attention big business transformations are getting – as smaller enterprises are not necessarily shifting all of their workloads into the cloud just yet.

“There are a lot of workloads that are on servers in data rooms inside office buildings, and so often people talk about public cloud’s future, but actually a lot of this is going to be about getting those servers and platforms into properly managed databases so they can secure a service level around them, and then there’s an awful lot which will kind of be more of a gradual migration to a combination of public and private cloud,” he states.