Cloud DC: From Queensland's Sippy Downs to the world

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This article appeared in the September 2016 issue of CRN magazine.

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Cloud DC: From Queensland's Sippy Downs to the world
Steve Robinson, Cloud DC

Steve Robinson has spent the past 12 months living in Texas and working on an agreement with Citrix to promote Cloud DC, his virtual application service that runs on AWS.

Why would Citrix pick a small firm headquartered in the delightfully named suburb of Sippy Downs on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast?

In any deal there’s a mix of talent, timing and perhaps a little luck. Citrix’s incoming president, the veteran Microsoft executive Kirill Tatarinov, is determined to move the company’s revenue to annuity subscriptions. 

“They know the days of perpetual licensing are numbered, so they’re going to a consumption-based model,” Robinson says.

Cloud DC (formerly OfficeBox) is built on Citrix architecture; a “significant amount” of the US$65  per user monthly fee goes to Citrix. 

The clincher is that a virtual application service such as Cloud DC could get Citrix into new markets. While Citrix is very well represented among Fortune 500 and ASX 200 corporates, it has just 3,000 of the 1 million businesses in North America with 100 or fewer employees. 

“Our go-to-market strategy will enable reseller partners to offer Cloud DC to all those businesses and deliver greenfield, cloud-based annuity revenue to Citrix,” Robinson says. “It isn’t even cannibalising their perpetual licences.”

Robinson hopes most of Citrix’s 10,000 partners globally will sell his product, which can scale to any size needed. Such a big win masks the effort it took to get there. Robinson says he had a problem when he first arrived – “I partnered with the wrong people” – that set him back six months. In the past three he has signed two major North American resellers – Summit Technology Group, part of the 10,000-employee Wasatch Group, and Entisys360.

The latter plans to sell 100,000 Cloud DC subscriptions in the next 12 to 18 months, Robinson says.

“We’re just starting to build that pipeline. I’m off to Fort Lauderdale to start work with the Citrix marketing team on a global telemarketing campaign to partners. It’s a whirlwind about to take off.”

Cloud DC is Robinson’s second tilt at IT. He founded iExec and sold it to Brennan IT in 2006 “for seven figures”. The next four years were spent thinking about what to do next. 

In 2010 Robinson began to formulate an idea about a virtual service that made acquisition and consumption of IT easy and simple. He briefly considered desktop-as-a-service before realising the only thing businesses care about is software.

“What’s driving cloud computing today? Applications,” Robinson says. “Even Apple, Samsung, Google – what’s driving the sales of their devices? It’s the apps in the app stores. It’s not ‘I can do fancy things with my phone.’ ”

Virtualising applications puts resellers in a stronger position than simply selling cloud software, Robinson argues. “Traditional disties are disengaging from the reseller channel at an alarming rate. Resellers are disillusioned with small margins and the fact that they can’t retain end-customer ownership. With Office 365, you don’t own that end customer, Microsoft does.”

Resellers who sell virtual application services can maintain their own branding, retain customer ownership and deliver good margin, he says. Cloud DC partners make 30 to 40 points on the base‑level application.

Cloud DC will help SMEs and enterprises move to the cloud faster by simplifying the path. It has some interesting cases when a user wants to open two applications – for example, older versions of MYOB – and view them side-by-side. 

Cloud DC says it can undercut every VMware partner because it has no infrastructure. “We’re like the Airbnb of IT. We deliver a hotel service without hotels,” Robinson says. 

While Cloud DC is 100 percent channel, ironically its biggest competitor is the platform it sits on. In 2014 Amazon launched its own virtual desktop service, Amazon Workspaces.  

Fact file: Cloud DC

  • Head office Sunshine Coast, Australia. 
  • US office Austin, Texas
  • Established November 2011
  • Top executives Steve Robinson CEO, Des Robinson CFO, Maureen Lindsey VP Global Channel
  • Headcount 7
  • Sector Cloud computing
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