This case study is part of series conducted by Parallels that examines how Parallels partners are optimally using our products. For a complete copy, click here [PDF].
Pacificnet Hosting Limited (PacHosting) was established in January 2002 and has since grown to become one of the leading hosting service providers in Hong Kong. It is focused on providing easy-to-use, effective and reliable online business solutions and the latest information technologies to help businesses gain a competitive advantage on the web.
Over the years, the company has built up a strong portfolio of solutions which include Web Hosting, Email Hosting, Virtual Private Servers (VPS), Cloud Servers and Hosted Exchange 2010 for small to large corporations.
To further strengthen its position in the market, PacHosting sought to capitalize on emerging opportunities, particularly in the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) space, to broaden its portfolio and deliver greater value to its customers.
In order to achieve this in an efficient and cost-effective manner, PacHosting needed to find a way to reduce time-to-market for the new services while grappling with the problem of IT skills shortage in the Hong Kong market.
To address these challenges, PacHosting decided to utilize the Application Packaging Standard (APS) capabilities of Parallels Automation, which it had deployed in 2010 to address its requirements for end-to-end automation.
Parallels Business Automation allows the hosting provider to automate functions such as ordering, account management, billing, invoicing, promotions and customer relationship management, while Parallels Operations Automations helps take care of back office operations such as server infrastructure provisioning, management of service plans and the monitoring of resource usage and server health.
With APS, PacHosting can now go one step further and easily configure applications for seamless integration into cloud delivery systems. APS is a set of specifications that simplifies the delivery of SaaS applications by packaging them in a standard format. Designed from ground-up to address the requirements of SaaS and cloud computing – such as full automation and delegated administration – APS covers provisioning, management, and integration of cloud-based services and applications.
With built-in support for APS, Parallels Automation enables PacHosting to offer APS-certified applications without having to spend time and money developing special control panels or writing custom code to integrate the applications into its service infrastructure.
APS already works with hundreds of key applications that are available in the market. Many third-party application vendors are also working with Parallels to create APS-compliant SaaS applications based on Parallels technologies and products. These include applications for collaboration, content management, customer relationship management, online backup, and more.
With APS, PacHosting has been able to create new revenue opportunities in the SaaS space, reduce time-to-market for its new software services and reduce its reliance on technical expertise which is in short supply in Hong Kong.
Creation of new revenue opportunities
The APS support that is built into Parallels Automation has enabled PacHosting to go beyond its traditional offerings such as pure web hosting and VPS, to introduce new revenue opportunities based on the SaaS model. There are currently over 300 APS-ready applications listed on Parallels’ web site which PacHosting can easily package and configure as new service offerings for its customers.
Adding SaaS to the product mix allowed PacHosting to increase revenue in a number of ways. SaaS applications allowed them to create new product bundles that rounded out existing offers. Consequently, average revenue per user has risen. Also, PacHosting has been able to go back to their existing customers with new offers and new opportunities to engage their customer.
From the customer’s perspective, these SaaS applications give them access to useful business applications without the need for high up-front capital investments or to worry about ongoing software upgrades, maintenance and support.
APS helps PacHosting to reduce time-to-market for its new SaaS offerings by allowing applications to be packaged for delivery as cloud services in a matter of days. “APS enables us to launch a new cloud service within one or two weeks, even if we factor in the time needed to procure and provision the necessary hardware resources and to test the application. Previously, in order to deploy software into a cloud or shared hosting environment, custom code or special control panels had to be developed for each application. The process could take weeks or even months,” said Natalie Kong, Business Analyst, Pacificnet Hosting Limited.
Rapid ramp-up of services
With APS, enabling an application for the cloud environment involves a one-time effort, after which the service can be delivered to multiple customers. This eliminates the need to write custom code for each deployment and allows the service to be rolled out quickly to a large number of users.