We relish the opportunity to sit down and chat with customers and partners to hear how companies are deploying hyperconverged solutions in the real world. This is especially true for solution providers who increasingly are the ones being tasked with designing and deploying the next generation of edge computing solutions where IT resources are scarce and evolving data privacy regulations create new challenges.
One such Scale Computing partner is Prime Communications, a fast-growing provider of technology services and solutions headquartered in Elkhorn, Nebraska. Recently, I sat down with Nate Green, who is the Vice President of the Eastern Region for Prime Communications to learn more about how the challenges they are being asked to address by customers, why the convergence of video surveillance and security and IT presents new opportunities for a new generation of agile service providers, and how they plan to leverage hyperconverged infrastructure to power their impending entry into managed services business.
Tell us a little bit about Prime Communications and the services you provide.
Prime Communications was founded in 2001 by Brian Kenkel and Steve Kanne who initially focused on delivering structured cabling infrastructure services to businesses in the local Eastern Nebraska market. After successfully executing projects for large hospitals and national fast food chains, the company expanded its solution portfolio into new markets and geographies and now has four discrete business units, with specialized capabilities in medical equipment, physical security solutions, and managed IT & network services. Today, we have more than 100 employees and have deployed solutions in all 50 states for large enterprise organizations and local entities alike.
How did you learn about Scale Computing in the first place and why did you select us?
We came to learn about Scale Computing when a customer of ours, a national chain of fast casual restaurants, approached us about helping them upgrade their video surveillance system in order to better comply with PCI requirements. PCI compliance of course is a huge deal for our retail customers who are now required to replicate access control and video in real-time or risk monetary fines or reputational damage so it was really important to this customer that they have that built-in redundancy.
It was actually the customer who suggested Hyperconverged Infrastructure as a potential solution and we narrowed down our shortlist to Scale Computing, Pivot3 or trying to build something with BCD Video. When I asked one of our trusted partners for their opinion he said, “I would choose Scale Computing –these guys have it down and their support is awesome.” Our systems engineer then read through everything, saying that he really liked the architecture and was blown away by the SLA -- the fact that Scale Computing Support will pick up the phone within 30 seconds after sending a text just made the decision a no-brainer.
If you hadn’t selected Scale Computing, how would you have gone about delivering this type of solution?
The video surveillance market today is shifting fast from analog to digital and that line that used to separate video surveillance and security from IT technologies has really started to blur. This disruption means that there is ample opportunity for a solution provider like us to deliver added value and differentiate ourselves in the market.
Before Scale Computing, we would have to mix and match several different components which might mean provisioning a BCD server, replicating that stack in two different locations and then use some sort of RAID configuration like Genetec Federation to keep the system running. If one went down, we would use Genetec to fail over but it was always a very manual process. Working with Scale Computing has made it kind of bulletproof where it automatically fails over and the customer essentially wouldn’t even know that they were down.
So now that you have some experience with us and with hyperconverged infrastructure in general, has it changed the way you approach solving these types of problems?
Absolutely it has. I've been doing this for 21 years and beforehand, I would have said, let's get a server company involved and we'll just sell you licensing. And now, I realized I was probably missing 30 to 40% of a sale that I didn't even know I was missing. A hyperconverged approach puts me in a better position to ask the right questions: how important is resiliency to you? Can you really afford downtime? How important is video loss? Is that something that's a risk for you? And if you don't do this, you just go with a single point of failure, what will that cost you? I wouldn't have asked those questions before I started working with Scale Computing.
What types of customers do you see this type of hyperconverged approach resonating most with?
We do really well with any enterprise multi-site that operates a large number of remote branch offices. Think about the retail market, they don’t have IT people at every single Meijer’s grocery store, and that headache of trying to have a store manager pretend that they’re an IT expert rather than letting them focus on their core business – I think that makes this type of solution all the more compelling.
Ultimately my goal is when you walk into a cramped store manager’s office with 19 computers all around them that’s running the email and all the applications that are critical to their store – I want to educate them on how to put all these systems on a hyperconverged system that will enable them to eliminate all this complexity and cost that just gets in the way of their business. I recently met with one brand-recognized retailer who, when I showed him a picture of one such back office, said, ‘this is what I want to talk about because I have 1700 locations that are exactly this type of mess.” And there’s really no reason why we couldn’t take this to other verticals like financial service as there’s really very little difference between a chain of Five Guys restaurants and a retail bank with 1500 branch locations.
What’s next for Prime Communications and how do you plan to incorporate hyperconverged infrastructure into your future offering?
We are currently in the process of launching our MSP business and we plan to start offering hosted cloud services using Scale Computing as our foundation. We will also include a hosted video management service offering which will be run from our new SOC in Omaha, Nebraska and will have it redundant here in Columbus, Ohio. Ultimately, I’m confident that hyperconverged infrastructure is going to fundamentally transform both our own operating model and will enable us to become a more strategic partner to our customers.
Interested in learning more? Visit our video surveillance and security page, or reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!