By November 1, 2000 Read More →

Netsourcing: the Life Blood of an ISO | Article

hand holding netEntering the dot-com world is a real adventure for many businesses. A company needs to be prepared for the stiff market presence and competition from the AOLs of the world. Intira is the tool that MiracleNet.com, an Internet Access Provider, uses as it slices up its share of the market.

Larry Marcus, president and chief executive officer, of NY based MiracleNet.com knows that his service needs to be up to par when it comes to being an ISO. There are simply too many others out there. AOL, EarthLink and MSN are always looking for information Superhighway travelers. MiracleNet.com offers subscribers a chance to make money with memberships. If there are hiccups getting online, revenue can be lost.

That’s where Intira comes in, Marcus said. “They’ve standardized everything, and have cared about applications,” he said. Last year MiracleNet.com needed a way to enter e-business and got it with Intira, a business that keeps MiracleNet.com open 24-7. The company entered into a three-year, $2.2 million contract. The challenge is providing the predictable service and performance required to ensure a successful foray into e-business. A continent away, Intira, near Silicon Valley in Pleasanton, Calif., has the resources to keep an ISO like MiracleNet.com up and running. Not only do they keep it in operation, but they also offer the ability to expand and grow.

Marcus wants to take MiracleNet.com to even higher levels. When the application goes down, an ISO is essentially out of business. Originally a free service, slumping Internet ad rates, sent MiracleNet.com into the paid subscriber field. Currently with 20,000 customers, the CEO has a goal of 100,000 in the near future. For $21.95 a month, it pays members monthly for referrals and offers half price motion picture tickets. It also offers personal web sites, chances at free trips and revenue sharing for additional products and services. There are also e-mail reminders for important dates. Without the proper netsourcer, such as Intira, it can all fall apart and fracture a company’s bottom line.

Giving topnotch technical expertise

Intira calls itself a netsourcer, an outsourcer of IT and networking infrastructures for e-business applications. Intira accomplishes most of its mission with a single point of accountability for customer service and support. This aspect of service is called the OneSource-One Call Customer Support program, and is available for Fortune 1000 organizations, dot-coms such as MiracleNet.com, application service providers and independent software vendors. With offices throughout the United States and Canada, Intira is said to have been the only vendor to demonstrate technical expertise in the pre-sale effort.

Marcus was most impressed with the service level agreement Intira offers. Its SLAs guarantee 99.95 percent availability. “It’s obvious they do a good job and are serious about it judging on the SLA,” Marcus said. The speed of the data provided by Intira has also impressed him. The communications he shares with them is another positive. “We’ve outsourced with different companies and it’s not always been pleasant,” he said. The implementation of the Intira system was a challenge but the outsourcer was determined to “make it right.”

With engineering expertise available, Intira has also helped MiracleNet.com streamline data. MiracleNet.com’s praise of its outsourcer is especially impressive given its association with other technology leaders including Microsoft, IBM, and e-Quest Technologies, Inc. For Intira, the goal is simple. It wants to be a seamless extension of the company’s IT organization.

The service management centers of the Netsourcer have several technical advantages that an ISO requires including networking engineers, security experts, database architects and administrators, data storage professionals, performance management specialists, server and operating systems engineers and operations and maintenance support professionals. For Marcus they’re all just a cell phone call away. The SMC engineers are able to identify, isolate and resolve potential service interruptions before they can even affect an application’s availability.

Some other major Intira customers include Armstrong World Industries, a building materials company; EMC Corp., world leader in information storage; and Military.com, a military Internet site serving 80 million-member American military community.

Giving the client peace of mind

As with most agreements, the goal for Intira is to provide cutting edge technology and reduce total cost of ownership so that companies such as MiracleNet can focus on building the core business, which Marcus hopes will mean more and more subscribers taking advantage of an ISO to promote growth. All of this comes at what Intira calls “a controlled, predictable fee.” In MiracleNet.com’s case, where a few days business can affect profit ratios, Intira was also able to set up shop in somewhat quick order. Other benefits? A company with Intira can cut back on its technology and staffing investments. For Marcus, he has the peace of mind knowing that a vital portion of his business is done right.

That, too, is part of Intira’s goal, as the outsourcer wants to be a full-fledged partner in success. Intira has also given MiracleNet.com other business contacts. As a dot-com player, Marcus is careful about whom he does business with and who has experience. One of the retail sites on MiracleNet.com went into bankruptcy, causing some customer discontent. There is no such discontent with Intira and its e-business connection. Still, the CEO fully urges any company to study outsourcers before an agreement is reached. “Make sure you check references and look at financial records,” he said. “Look at their Dunn and Bradstreet rating also.”

Lessons From the Outsourcing Primer:

  • High-tech needs, such as Internet service access, can easily outstrip the abilities of an in-house staff. Others in the market may have the answers with technology that delivers at a lower price.
  • Netsourcing is the outsourcing response for Internet access, a leading market in the global economy.


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