Summary:

Internap bought Voxel early this year to boost its dedicated hosting and public cloud portfolios and to extend its reach into smaller companies. Now its new Voxel.net Agile Hosting services will let even tiny businesses configure and deploy IT infrastructure from an online configurator.

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Earlier this year Internap bought Voxel to boost its dedicated hosting and public cloud portfolios and to extend its reach into small companies. And on Thursday, it launched new Agile Hosting services from Voxel.net that will let even tiny businesses configure and deploy IT infrastructure from a new online configurator, aka configuration tool.

The rationale is that small businesses, in aggregate, represent a huge opportunity for cloud providers and hosting companies that can make such IT services easy for them to deploy and consume. And there is outside data to support Internap’s bet that small businesses equal big upside. A new Microsoft-funded survey shows that SMB spending on cloud deployment could double in the next five years.  And Internap points  to research from The 451 Group  projecting that the overall market for dedicated hosting and cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) could hit the $3.8 billion mark by the end of 2012, with a 14 percent compound annual growth rate.

Wanted: More of the IT spending from small businesses

The new Internap services build on Voxel’s orchestration technology to let small companies — typically those that spend less than a few thousand dollars a month on IT — deploy servers instantly, said Paul Carmody, SVP of product management and business development for Atlanta-based Internap.

One rationale for the Voxel buy was that it would give Internap address a bigger chunk of the addressable market for hosted or cloud-based IT services. Internap customers typically spent tens of thousands of dollars per month on IT infrastructure, while Voxel targeted those that spent maybe $1,000 per month, Carmody said.

With this new offering, Internap can go even further down into small businesses — the tens of thousands of companies that spend maybe a few hundred dollars per month on IT.”That’s a sign-up sort of market. We don’t have a sales rep walk into your office or call you, instead we put an order configurator on the Voxel.net web site, you click to order your servers and get a range of options. You can choose servers that are instantly deployed, you can sign up for bare-metal servers and within a few minutes you can have it all provisioned,” Carmody said.

The services are now running at Internap’s Singapore, Amsterdam, New York City,  Santa Clara and Dallas data centers. Internap has also tied Voxel into its high-performance IP network which aims to reduce network latency.

Internap-Voxel integration work continues

Internap, which was first out of the chute last fall with an OpenStack-based compute cloud, is working to put that OpenStack cloud management layer atop Voxel’s Xen-based public cloud offerings, Carmody said.

It will be interesting to see how many of these very small companies do opt for Voxel’s Agile Hosting or similar servcies. Not many small companies have IT staffs. That means they don’t want to run a lot of their own server room gear themselves but at the same time, it’s unclear how many would be confident enough to use an online configurator to deploy hosted services. My guess is that many will turn to a VAR or integrator or other trusted advisor that would either configure these systems on their behalf or — more likely — take on the hosting duties themselves.

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