With all the talk about cloud, most of us now know about it. You know it. I know it. Junior knows it. And grandma probably knows about cloud too.
You’re reading Cloud Computing magazine, so you know more about cloud than the average Joe. You probably understand that cloud allows for more efficient modeling and scalability, and greater uptime. And you may think that cloud-based solutions can help you lower your costs too.
But, while you are probably an individual with technical know-how, you’re probably not a cloud specialist. Instead of studying the intricacies of the cloud, you likely spend your time doing whatever your business needs to do to keep the lights on, as they say. So chances are good you could use some help as you map out and execute your cloud strategy.
Your first impulse is probably to use Azure or AWS. That’s understandable. These industry giants have the most well-known brands in the cloud arena.
But consider this, companies like AWS and Azure are so large that they don’t have the time or interest in catering to the specific needs of small and medium business customers. So they won’t provide much – if anything – in the way of consultation, customization, and high-touch service.
If you want a more personalized and responsive experience, you’ll need to engage with a different kind of organization – one that specializes in helping SMBs transition to and continue their journey in the cloud.
Chicago-based Steadfast does just that.
Steadfast helps SMBs with everything from providing hybrid, private, and public cloud services to assisting with network design to handling management. It essentially works as an extension of its customers’ IT teams. And its technical experts are ready and willing to help whenever needed.
CEO Karl Zimmerman started Steadfast back in 1998 when he was just 14. The company began life as a shared web hosting company. Four years later Steadfast began offering cloud servers, storage, virtualization, and related services and capabilities. In fact, Steadfast has been offering cloud solutions since long before the term cloud appeared.
Steadfast today has a team of 30-plus people. That consists primarily of individuals with a decade or two each of technical experience. Steadfast has hired people from an array of verticals, so they have more familiarity with customers’ specific challenges. And team members talk to customers in terms they can understand.
Steadfast Simplicity Cloud Services consists of an array of cloud services. But the company doesn’t get caught up in technical discussions with customers about hybrid, private, and public cloud. Instead, it asks them about their specific goals, and Steadfast helps businesses select the services and solutions that best meet their needs.
It then provides those services for the customer at a flat monthly rate, so they’re not surprised later with unexpected costs. If the customer needs to scale up or down along the way, Steadfast typically can make that happen in less than a day. (That’s as opposed to the weeks or months it would probably take via an internal IT team effort.)
At initial customer meetings, Steadfast brings in its engineers. That way the company can get as much information as quickly and easily as possible, so it can start delivering value to customers sooner rather than later. In fact, sometimes Steadfast suggests architecture optimization plans for customers right then and there. Don’t expect that from AWS or Azure.
There’s no doubt that Amazon has a lot of great features, and more complex offerings like an API for analyzing video streams, an integrated development environment, machine learning, and more, says Zimmerman. But most businesses are not developers, they’re just looking for core infrastructure that works. These are the businesses Steadfast caters to – simplifying for them the complex world of the cloud.
“Strengthen Your Focus” is the Steadfast credo. It recognizes that Steadfast customers don’t exist to manage IT infrastructure. They have their own core competencies – so cloud is an enabler, not a focus, for them. Steadfast lets them focus on that by managing their IT infrastructure. That way, everybody can work on what they’re really good at.
“We sell them that peace of mind, that expertise,” says Zimmerman.
That’s important because sometimes customers don’t know what they don’t know. For example, one client thought because a cloud giant advertised redundancy it wouldn’t need backups. But backups and redundancy in the cloud are two very different things, explains Zimmerman. Steadfast shared that important distinction with the client, which as a result could better assess its costs and requirements.
More than 1,000 U.S. businesses today rely on Steadfast for their IT infrastructure solutions. SMBs are the company’s sweet spot, but Steadfast also serves multiple Fortune 500 customers.
Whatever their size, when customers need to reach Steadfast, company experts are close at hand. Callers don’t have to go through a help desk to connect with Steadfast employes. Instead, they reach technicians direct. Those technicians work from data centers powering customer deployments, so they can see exactly what’s happening.
“We treat everything urgently and quickly,” says Ed Dryer, senior technology strategist at Steadfast, which operates out of two major data centers in Chicago and one in New Jersey.
Steadfast typically resolves issues called in by customers within seconds. Response times to tickets average just 7.4 minutes.
That means Steadfast’s resolution times are faster than its competitors’ response times, Dryer says. And Steadfast customers don’t have to pay extra for support – it’s included as part of their monthly service fee.
There is no reasonable customer request that Steadfast will not address, adds Dryer. Steadfast will help its customers communicate with their other suppliers. It will gather and share with customers all the information needed for a particular effort. And Steadfast will generally make life easier for its business customers.
“Whatever the scope of your concern,” he says, “we will help you with it.”
Edited by Mandi Nowitz