Competing with public cloud titans

Competing with public cloud titans

Why large-scale cloud providers should be concerned about West Virginia’s Alpha Technologies.

The West Virginia economy has been decimated in recent decades. As the once-fruitful coal mines fade into obscurity, so too have the career prospects for countless area professionals. 

“The local economy needs an influx,” says Doug Tate, founder and president of Alpha Technologies, a West Virginia cloud, communications, and hosting provider. “I want to create 300 to 600 high-paying jobs that will help.”

To do so, Tate needs to grow his business.

  • Alpha currently supports hundreds of customers, but it aims to serve thousands.
  • And it has lofty ambitions of competing with the world’s largest cloud providers.

“We want to play in the same sandbox as the big boys,” Tate says, “on local, regional, and national levels.”

Alpha is now in a position to do so, he claims, because of its recent adoption of Cisco® Application Centric Infrastructure (Cisco ACI), a breakthrough software-defined networking architecture, and the Intel® Xeon® processor-based Cisco Unified Computing System™.

“ACI is a game changer,” Tate says. “It allows us to compete at a higher level.”

Security, compliance for government customers
Alpha’s proximity to Washington, D.C., makes it an ideal provider for government contracts and projects. But as with all public sector activities, data security is of utmost importance. 

“Traffic needs to be completely isolated,” says Jack Belcher, COO for Alpha. “In the past, we had to manually provision everything—network, virtual machines, security. It was time consuming, complex, and came with the possibility of human error. But ACI is secure by default.”

  • In a traditional data center, every system can communicate with others unless segmentation policies are meticulously defined, creating a dubious security posture.
  • Cisco ACI is the opposite. Server, storage, and networking systems cannot interact with each other natively unless those links are deliberately established.

“There is less complexity but more depth with ACI,” Belcher explains. “So security is simultaneously simpler, better, and more manageable on a granular level.”

That has allowed Alpha to bolster its PCI, HIPAA, and SSAE16 compliance capabilities, and pursue ISO27001 and FedRAMP certifications.

“When you get certified by these standards bodies, it opens up a ton of new business opportunities,” Tate says, while adding the company’s size, geography, and status as a service-disabled, veteran-owned company also play in Alpha’s favor. “Our whole pitch is around security and data protection.”

  • In the past, it took a week to get a new customer up and running on Alpha’s cloud. Using Cisco ACI, the same work can be accomplished in less than an hour—with full data isolation, better security, and demonstrable compliance with a number of industry standards.
  • The extra time will be spent attracting new business, enhancing customer support, and creating new jobs for the local population.
  • While Alpha generated roughly $13 million in 2015 revenue, Tate estimates the company can “easily” net upwards of $200 million in 2016.

“We are bidding on multimillion and multibillion dollar contracts that nobody else can touch, and it’s largely based on our security and compliance capabilities,” Tate says. “This stuff sells itself.”

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