Cloud consulting firm hopes lightning can strike twice

Cambridge Technology Partners rode high on the client-server wave in the 1990s, and now its founders are planning to bring their magic to cloud computing with a new firm called Cloud Technology Partners.

Cambridge co-founder Chris Greendale is launching the consulting venture today to help midsize and large enterprises plan and execute the migration of business processes, applications and data to a cloud computing environment.

"CIOs of enterprises are now beginning to get very serious about cloud computing, whether it be private clouds or public clouds. This is the time to start a consulting organization to help them navigate to cloud," he says.

The target market is enterprises with $US500 million to $2.5 billion in revenue, and Greendale expects customer engagements will run one to three years and be priced around $1 million per year.

"This is not about coming in, building an application and leaving. This is about building a cloud strategy or road map, and then going through systems development, application implementation and application transformation. That takes time," says Greendale, who for the last seven years worked as a venture capitalist.

IN DEPTH: Private clouds aren't for the faint of heart

The start-up faces plenty of competition in the cloud consulting marketplace, including firms such as Accenture, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte, as well as from the services arms of tech vendors IBM, HP and Dell.

Greendale's track record will be an advantage, says Jeff Kaplan, managing director at THINKstrategies. "People always gravitate toward the people they know, and Chris and his team come with a very strong Rolodex and reputation among a sufficient set of enterprise-grade customers to get them started."

Timing is in CloudTP's favor, too, since enterprises need help evaluating and eventually implementing cloud computing technologies. "There's nothing more confusing than cloud, and therefore no greater opportunity in the technology field than to provide consulting services in this sector," Kaplan says.

While people have been talking about cloud computing for years, it's just beginning to gain real traction. Enterprises have started down the path of cloud computing by taking advantage of public services for computing capacity or application development, for instance. Now they're weighing the advantages of making over their data centers to replicate the functional capabilities of those public clouds, Kaplan says.

"That means transforming data centers to become much more flexible, elastic, user-friendly and self-provisionable," Kaplan says. "Traditional data center environments weren't built with those qualities in mind. They were built to be highly centralized and controlled in a very hierarchical fashion, and now we're asking them to be the exact opposite."

CloudTP has already landed a handful of customers, including an unnamed financial services company that's migrating 1,200 applications to its private cloud and an international telecommunications company that's migrating 13,000 applications to its private cloud.

Five of CloudTP's first 15 employees are alumni of Cambridge Technology Partners, including Erik Sebesta, CloudTP's chief architect and technology officer. The other members of CloudTP's four-person founding team are COO Jon Rounds and sales and marketing executive Jim Lampert.

The firm is in hiring mode, Greendale says. "We're at 15 people right now, and I anticipate we're probably going to double that number within the next 45 days, based upon the demand that we have."

In Boston, CloudTP currently has open positions for senior-level solutions architects, financial services architects, test specialists, and project and program managers. In Boston, New York and San Francisco, the firm is hiring DevOps experts to build private clouds. Nationwide, cloud application architects, cloud infrastructure architects, and data center consolidation experts are in demand.

Going forward, a challenge for CloudTP will be proving that the founders can apply their experience to the world of cloud computing. It remains to be seen how well they're able to scale the business, manage operations, and ensure consistent quality as they grow, Kaplan says. "It's not easy to scale a consulting business."

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Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

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Ann Bednarz

Ann Bednarz

Network World
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