Infront boss Allan King has stepped back from the Canberra-based services provider to officially launch spinoff company Buttonwood.
When it launches on 28 October, Buttonwood will connect customers to cloud services from the likes of AWS and Azure, with plans to offer services from Telstra and Dimension Data by Christmas.
It's a milestone for 17-year-old Infront. Development has been underway for more than two years, but the company is only now exiting “stealth” mode.
While King will retain the role of director at Infront, the company he started in October 1998, it is now being headed by a management team that includes general manager Glenn Powell and service manager Graham O'Sullivan. Software architect Damien Jolly is the co-founder of Buttonwood.
Biting bill shock
The startup helps fight cloud bill shock. King pointed to ups and downs in prices from hyperscale cloud providers, including a price increase for Azure, and the rising costs of AWS due to the exchange rate.
Buttonwood helps users avoid overspending in two ways. First is cost tracking that assigns cloud workloads to a company’s cost centres, aimed at helping finance managers connect cloud spending back to business budgets.
Second is an algorithm that looks for potential cost savings – for example, when Azure prices rise – and provides the option to migrate workloads without breaking the application stack.
King is particularly proud of this second point. “Buying’s easy, management’s hard,” he quipped about infrastructure-as-a-service.
Customers could potentially migrate certain workloads onto a public cloud for maximum cost saving at certain times during the week, and bring them back on-premise at other times.
On the software-as-a-service side, API integration means customers can control addition and deletion of users of Office 365 and other services through a single interface, rather than "21 different logins", said King.
Service providers and customers can avoid dealing with dozens of touchpoints to onboard a user, as well as crack down on unused accounts.
“Those zombie accounts become an attack point if I’m not handling the accounts with the right governance,” he said.
Buttonwood will be a “channel-centric” company, said King. He is looking to start a reseller program early next year, and is also talking up the opportunity for small cloud providers to offer services via Buttonwood.
“We worry about a lot of smaller service providers who don’t have marketing or brand recognition. They can win and host workloads [via Buttonwood],” he said. He is looking to launch a service provider program early next year.
AWS and Azure will be offered at launch, while King hopes to have Dimension Data and Telstra Intercloud services integrated by Christmas.
By spinning off a new company, King is positioning Buttonwood as independent.
King is not alone as a channel CEO launching a startup. Other well-known industry figures to launch startups include Thomas Duryea CEO Andrew Thomas, who founded analytics company AtlasPlato, and former Express Online chief executive Danny Moore, who has established cloud integration business AppSpace.