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MSP Vendor Continuum 'Leans Forward' with Datacenter Investment

Continuum this week unveiled a multimillion-dollar investment in upgrading its datacenter capacity to position the company for unspecified future offerings for its managed service provider (MSP) partners, according to the company's CEO.

"This was a pretty substantial investment that has to do with the underlying infrastructure of our fundamental platform," said Michael George, CEO of Continuum, in a telephone interview. Continuum's core products for its 3,300 MSPs are the Continuum RMM and Continuum Vault, which are backup and disaster recovery services built around an appliance manufactured by Datto.

The Software as a Service (SaaS) nature of Continuum's offerings is a key product differentiator, making its datacenter infrastructure mission-critical. 

George stressed that the move from a West Coast service provider to new facilities at the Markley Group datacenter near Continuum's headquarters in downtown Boston was driven by aggressive growth plans, not by dissatisfaction with previous facilities.

Continuum had kept the previous facility up to date with equipment refreshes and always maintained capacity at 15 percent to 20 percent beyond current demand, George said. The previous facility, he added, "was substantial and significant enough to run our business today, but it wasn't where we're leaning for the future. This is really about the next level."

When Rob Autor joined Continuum a year ago as senior vice president of Global Services Delivery, a major part of his charter was to arrange the company's next-generation datacenter, George said.

Markley Group describes its 920,000 square-foot facility at 1 Summer Street as the largest datacenter and mission-critical telecommunications facility in New England, and calls itself the only "carrier hotel" in the region with connectivity to more than 75 domestic and international network providers and a robust power grid. Among its tenants, Markley counts AT&T, NTT, British Telecom, Tata Communications, the Boston Red Sox, Harvard, MIT, the Boston Internet Peering Exchange (BOSIX) and The New York Times.

"This is one of maybe eight or 10, at most, facilities of its kind in the country," George said. Continuum's move to such high-quality facilities was made possible by its backing from Summit Partners, the investment partnership that funded the company's creation in September 2011 as an RMM spinoff from Zenith Infotech.

"This is by great magnitude considerably more significant than anything any of our competitors have," George said. "They just don't have the wherewithal to lean ahead three years and make an investment on behalf of their customers."

In 2011, Continuum's backing by a growth equity firm that now has raised more than $15 billion in assets gave it an unusual position in the MSP market. As the company prepares to expand its services for MSPs with the new datacenter capacity and a previously announced revamped network operations center in Mumbai, India, the company is facing a competitive field with more formidable financial resources than the founder-led competitors of the time. N-Able Technologies, Level Platforms Inc. and Kaseya all sport new owners or financial backing in 2013. With funding from Insight Venture Partners, Kaseya has expanded into three new business areas through rapid-fire acquisitions. N-Able was bought for $120 million by Austin, Texas-based SolarWinds in May and Level Platforms went to Czech Republic-based AVG Technologies in June.

George suggested that the "propwash" that every company, his included, goes through with a change in ownership, and Continuum's ongoing investments make his company a strong bet for MSPs in 2014.

Posted by Scott Bekker on December 19, 2013