As you may have heard, we made an official announcement today about the successful launch of Boxtop™, an all-in-one cloud IT solution for small businesses that includes virtual desktops, infrastructure, data storage, backups, security, dedicated service, and unlimited tech support. It’s the result of a lot of hard work from our engineering and product teams, and I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished!
For the last 15 years, we've been running a growing managed IT services business, with year over year growth. We currently manage the IT for close to 100 companies, and are responsible for thousands of “devices,” including desktops, servers, switches, and firewalls. We have 24 full time employees and three datacenters.
Over the years, we’ve helped many organizations tackle hardware issues, data loss, outages, security breaches, backups, etc. As a result, we started to think that there must be a better and simpler way for small business owners to approach IT, which led us in 2013 to start developing Boxtop™.
Creating Boxtop™ was no small feat. For the last 2 years, myself and two of our top engineers worked tirelessly between hardware, networking, software, and literally thousands of details, all to ensure that Boxtop™ delivered the stability, security, and performance that we know our clients demand. We designed it specifically to meet the needs of small (less than 50 employees) professional services firms – law, real estate, financial, etc. – companies which can’t afford downtime or data loss. We saw so many cloud technology companies focusing on the mid-market and large enterprises, not delivering the hands-on service that small businesses rely on. Seeing a gap in the cloud technology market for small business, combined with our extensive experience as a service company, Boxtop™ was the ideal next step for us.
You might be thinking that Boxtop™ seems contradictory to much of what we’ve been doing for the past 15 years, as it moves a company's entire IT – desktops, servers, software, and much more – to the cloud. With Boxtop™, companies no longer need to purchase or worry about computers, servers, backup systems, security, or software as they grow. It means no more warranty renewals, hardware sales, or upgrades.
So why do this? Why take such a risk, when our existing managed IT service is strong?
We believe that our clients like simplicity. Nobody likes complex systems. Complexity usually = expensive, and can also mean more problems and downtime.
No More Hardware
Nobody likes buying hardware. With small businesses, typically there is no defined budget for IT, and expenditures need to be approved by an owner. Owners are focused on selling their product or delivering their service. They want to spend their time talking to customers, not to an IT company about why they need to spend thousands to upgrade or replace a device that they can’t even understand what it does (I never enjoyed having those calls with clients).
Timing Right for DaaS
The time was finally right for “desktop-as-a-service” (DaaS). The concept of terminals has been around for close to 30 years. It started out with IBM mainframes connected to "dumb terminals." Then, technologies like Citrix and terminal servers came about 15 years ago and were great in theory, but in reality, the technologies of the time were simply too expensive and not powerful enough, so the user experience was poor. But in the last few years, connectivity, server hardware, and other technologies matured to a point that we're able to offer an experience on Boxtop™ that often is faster than a desktop PC, and at a very competitive price.
Secure Connection to All Business Apps & Data from Any Device
Boxtop™ does some things that a traditional network can't do. Because your Boxtop™ desktop is streamed to any screen, you're no longer tied down to your desk. Need to work from home, no problem. Need to bring up some documents on the big screen in the conference room? No problem. Need to access some important files or programs from your iPhone? Yes, it does that too. The user interface is a traditional Windows desktop, but you can connect from any internet-connected device – Apple, Android, etc. – it’s “device-agnostic” which is great as more and more organizations move towards “bring-your-own-device” (BYOD) policies.
Service Meets Cloud™
If we don't cannibalize ourselves, someone else will. When Netflix came to the scene (with DVDs by mail), Blockbuster ignored them because they had millions of square feet of retail space. When downloadable music came out, Sony and many of the other record labels ignored it to focus on selling CDs. More and more IT features are moving to the cloud, and desktops have already started. By combining this new technology with our 15+ years in delivering service to small professional service firms, we can offer a truly unique solution and keep building on our strong small business client base.
But, how can we roll out something new when most of our revenue is coming from managed IT services? Well, to say it simply, the traditional PC/server model isn’t going to disappear overnight. Nothing that's been around for this long does. For some companies, it’ll be the right answer for the foreseeable future, and if we’re doing a great job for them and they’re happy, then we want to continue that. But as more and more companies want to move to the cloud, we want to be at the forefront.
We ourselves started using Boxtop™ internally in 2014, and we’ve helped over a dozen organizations move their IT to Boxtop™. We’ve now got a very solid (and growing) base of users in the Boxtop™ cloud, and my team and I look forward to helping more and more organizations “go Boxtop™.”