Computacenter is making a defensive play against the likes of Atos Origin, Unisys and Fujitsu Services by launching into the cloud market with hosted mail, soon to be followed by collaboration and virtual desktop services.
Under the auspices of the C3 brand - Computacenter Cloud Computing - the firm is today launching an on-premise mail service on Microsoft Exchange with 2GB of storage and 99.9% availability at £7.95 per month.
Andrew Vize, CC proposition and strategic director, said C3 mail and other services included both traditional and cloud services, with the customers able to host it themselves in the initial stages like a managed service.
"Customers can host it which automatically removes the barriers of going off-site, they can prove the benefits to ensure they're addressing the pain points around governance and security...this is another sourcing decision.
"At a future stage, using the same delivery platform and architecture, they can move off-site into one of our data centres. We are not saying customers have to make the leap of faith and go right to a shared infrastructure," he said.
He said CC did not want to add to the "hype" gravitating cloud computing and selling a hybrid service would appeal to customers with sunken investments, and
traditional service delivery models "may be more appropriate at this time."
This is a "defensive" move from the firm; it currently manages 1.2 million mailboxes and over 150,000 mailbox migrations per year, has over 300 Microsoft certified engineers and sells £10m of professional services associated with mail.
"How much will cloud competitors erode that existing revenues stream by taking it away from us so our proposition is defensive in terms of protecting that?" said Rob Davies, director of data centre contractual services.
The SharePoint collaboration cloud service is due to launch later this quarter and one for virtual desktops will arrive in April/May.
According to a survey by market researchers Loudhouse of 150 UK IT decision makers, concerns over cloud adoption centre largely on risk, service levels and functionality. However, three quarters felt that cloud could help cut costs.
Anthony Miller, managing partner at TechMarketView, said moving into cloud was a "logical progression" for Computacenter's services business but warned constructing cloud infrastructures was very different to delivering cloud services.
"Computacenter will now be competing head to head with all the usual IT services suspects, but CEO Mike Norris usually has an unerring eye as to where Computacenter best fits in the wider marketplace. He will need to keep it particularly well focused for this new journey to the cloud," he said.
The cloud marketing message from vendors is "relentless" said Alastair Edwards, principal analyst at Canalys, and the fear for many resellers was being left behind as customers enquire about their cloud portfolio.
"Many resellers are looking at variations of this model, the reality is that we are seeing the early transition to services as certain applications and IT resources move to new delivery models and to a certain extent the channel is following that," he said.