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iiNet eyes opportunities to grow SMB hosting business

Internet service provider iiNet is known for its residential services but people are less aware of its business services, according to the company's business hosting and domains manager, Kevin Clark

"A natural transition for iiNet to move from the residential to the business space is to go for SMB space," Clark said. "It's a mass-market business that we believe we understand very well, and a lot of our products are complementary to the small business space."

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Software from Parallels has fueled iiNet's expansion of its hosting business into the SMB market, according to Clark. Parallels has been an iiNet partner for five years and its control panel has allowed iiNet to efficiently integrate the hosting businesses of major recent acquisitions including Westnet and TransACT, he said.

Partnerships with Parallels and others are critical to iiNet's growth strategy into the business market, Clark told Computerworld Australia.

Partnerships expand iiNet's ability to capture business markets, he said. "There's no way" iiNet can have enough sales and support staff for the 1.2 million businesses it wants to serve, he said.

Hosting for SMBs is a competitive market involving telcos and hosting-only companies like Crazy Domains and Melbourne IT, Clark said. The market is divided into two categories: solo businesses with up to five employees and SMB companies with five to 50 employees, he said.

"Parallels has given us a quick step up into the industry," Clark said. "We knew access and voice services ... and hosting was something we naturally picked up on." Parallels "catapulted" iiNet so that "overnight" the telco could compete with the hosting-only companies who spent years developing their own systems, he said.

On the backend, the Parallels software provides iiNet with "a control panel that lets our administrators and engineers to manage all the services that run the hosting clients," Clark said. "It allows them to deploy the new services a lot more efficiently and create the plans that we offer to customers." On the front end, the control panel lets customers manage the products they have with iiNet, including web hosting, email and domain name services.

The software's ability to treat organisations as resellers within the system helped iiNet integrate the hosting businesses of recent acquisitions, Clark said.

"We have one massive platform that services a whole bunch of resellers," he said. "So the way we've set it up was we've have iiNet brand as a reseller, the Westnet brand as a reseller and all the other brands that we are acquiring are resellers. What that means is we can retain the brand of those companies we acquire while still providing that full functionality that every other brand has, and managing it from one central place."

That ability will also be "fantastic when we eventually go into the wholesale space," he said.

The ISP reported strong results for FY 2012 and said it expected to fully integrate Internode and TransACT in the next 12-24 months.

Follow Adam Bender on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia


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