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Layered deploys Astro automation platform; drives bottom line and up-market strategy

January 29, 2009

Plano, TX – Layered Technologies, a privately held dedicated and managed hosting company, has deployed Astro, a back-end automation platform designed to streamline, speed up and enhance the entire process of provisioning servers to customers. The platform unifies what were previously a number of disparate systems managing a wide range of processes, including inventory management, billing, OS installation, configuration and provisioning. Astro brings everything together, putting a single integrated automation system in place that takes out a significant amount of the human labor used to provision servers to customers. Layered Tech discloses a provisioning time that has been cut from hours to below 30 minutes. This is from the time the order is placed online to the moment the customer gets their welcome email and is up and running.

The Astro platform will also be integrated with Layered Tech’s customer management console, Encompass, which has undergone a thorough rebuild and will fully leverage the capabilities of the Astro platform. Customers will be able to hook in to Astro through an API and manage their accounts, view resource usage, make support requests, install the OS, reboot and even add managed services available through the Defcon line (acquired from FastServers). Along with the Astro integration, Encompass has added new bells and whistles and features, and an improved user interface. Resellers can also take advantage of Astro’s open API, hooking in and integrating existing inventory data from the Astro platform and directly displaying it on their Web storefronts.

Rationale and strategy behind Astro

Layered Tech built Astro in order to realize important operating efficiencies (more details below). Once servers are unloaded, they are tested, racked and stacked in the datacenter, powered up and entered into inventory. This process involves significant manpower. But once this is done, Astro makes it possible for the rest of the process to be entirely automated – eliminating tasks that were performed in the past by support staff and technicians, supported by the call center team. Now, after the server is powered up, it is automatically scanned and entered into the Layered Tech inventory, and this reflects on its website (and that of resellers hooked in through the API). That server is now available for purchase on Layered Tech’s website, and from the entering of the credit card information to configuration, provisioning and then usage, the process takes less than 30 minutes (as we mentioned above). Everything is done automatically by Astro as dictated by the customers through their management console (Encompass). Unlike before, no tickets need to be opened and little if any human interaction is required.

As we noted, Layered Tech’s investment in such a platform is designed to drive efficiencies that will translate into margins and enhance the customer experience. The company is also driven by the need to free up personnel to work on larger server orders not easily handled by the automation platform and to funnel resources to its more hands-on managed hosting line. As we have written previously in our research, Layered Tech is in the midst of a move up-market into higher-value infrastructure offerings. The Astro platform is designed to automate the ’commodity’ offerings and allow the company to strategically redeploy its talent.

T1R take

This is clearly a strong move by the company that will help the bottom line and position the company to focus on making its move into high-value markets. T1R is a strong believer in the importance of automating operations. But what Layered Tech has done speaks to the importance of taking automation to the next level. That means not just automating the back-end infrastructure for the purposes of operational efficiency, but connecting and integrating those systems to the customer-facing side. Bringing the back end and the front end closely together creates an environment where customers can realize a significant number of benefits and the result is an enhanced customer experience. Not to be overlooked, automation on the back end also makes it possible for hosting services to be available on-demand. This facilitates impulse buys and purchases that must be expedited quickly or are required just for short-term purposes. In a market that is increasingly occupied by infrastructure and hosting services that are available on-demand and deliver more flexible procurement models, automation is a necessity for survival.

Details

Layered Tech is initially offering a line of popular Linux-based server configurations off the Astro platform and will be soon offering Windows servers. The servers are being marketed under its own line: ’Rapid Deploy Servers.’

About Layered Tech

Layered Technologies (Layered Tech), a leading global provider of compliant and secure cloud and hosting services, supporting mission-critical e-business applications, offers PCI-, HIPAA- and FISMA-compliant hosting solutions, managed dedicated hosting and cloud computing services, including Compliance Guaranteed, which ensures that all Layered Tech compliance services are guaranteed to pass 100 percent of every IT audit or assessment. By providing high-quality technology, infrastructure and support, Layered Tech enables clients to eliminate capital expenses and save on operating costs so they can focus on core initiatives. Layered Tech’s scalable infrastructure powers millions of sites and Internet-enabled applications, including e-commerce and SaaS. Clients include federal, state and local government agencies; large enterprises with advanced data security, compliance and uptime requirements; and leading-edge Web 2.0 startups. For more information, visit www.layeredtech.com.

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