When I joined Cobweb we were a young, ambitious and exciting company with lots of ideas and energy. Although the team here in Fareham was quite small, we were all hungry for the business to grow and succeed - to become the main provider of core hosted messaging in the UK.
Our vision and the ambition of the company were critical to our success as our investors at the time needed to fully believe we were investable. We had demanding partners such as Telewest, and being new to the market meant we were faced with technical challenges. At the start we had a huge amount of ideas but thin on hard facts – few had attempted to supply Microsoft Exchange 2003 as a service before. We needed to practise what we preached and build the technology that we talked about.
Our original vision to become a successful provider of core hosted messaging and to be a significant provider in our own right has been met. We’re fortunate that when we started out, competition from Google and Microsoft didn’t exist. That allowed us to build premium services and attract a niche audience for our offering. Refining and scaling this approach over the last ten years has allowed us to rationalise and deliver a true utility service as an attractive alternative to the Internet giants.
Over the past year or so we have seen the giants, such as Office365, entering the cloud market, pushing IT cloud services onto the agenda of most businesses. We have experienced tremendous growth in adoption, though not just from small businesses. The notion that collaborative messaging services are possible to consume as a cloud service appeals strongly to the midmarket also. Paying per seat, per month, without the need for CapEx is compelling enough, but now with utility pricing, it’s becoming an accepted option. Established niche providers such as Cobweb need to excel at service delivery, product differentiation and an expert understanding of a customer’s needs for low risk and strong security, alongside the cloud service delivery model.
The shift in how IT is consumed has only just begun. We expect businesses to move to a full cloud-provided model for most of their basic IT requirements. Mobility between cloud providers is also a given; cloud provider lock-in is difficult to achieve when providing messaging services. Migrations from other cloud service providers are already a reasonably common occurrence for Cobweb. In fact migrations from Google or Office365 are often quicker and lower risk than many of the migrations found in-house. Customers have the power of choice and the specialist, with enough scale and agility, will compete.
The next few years are all about strengthening our capability to deliver, with differentiated services focused on the needs of security-conscious businesses in both the public and private sectors. There is an increasing choice within our portfolio, both to the direct customer and to partners, enabling the established brands and new, disruptive cloud services to deliver via our aggregation platform. Product-wise we are broadening our Unified Communications Platform to include full voice and to prepare for Wave 15 launches from Microsoft.
Technology changes and customer demands are shaping the way we offer cloud services to the business market. I absolutely believe that we have the people, technology, flexibility and scalability to meet the demand and dynamic growth within this exciting market place.
Roll on another 15 years!
By Julian Dyer, Chief Technical Officer, Cobweb