Blenheim may be one of New Zealand’s sunniest towns but the future is all cloud for one of its oldest IT companies, PC Media.
CEO Lee Harper, 38, sees cloud services as the way of the future there.
"We’re very hardware focused, but at the same time, since we took the business over in 2010 we’ve become very focused on cloud services," says Harper. "We launched our own cloud back up product.
The previous owners sold PC Media to its staff in 2010. Today, Harber is the majority sharholder, a meteoric rise for someone who got a job there after walking in off the street in 2004.
“I started off as a technician, then I moved on to sales and in 2010 the two owners of the business decided to sell," he says. "Every staff member has shares in the company. We’re not quite sure how old the company is because it started off as a sole trader, but one customer says it's 22 years old."
Harper says PC Media is going through a bit of a rebrand with a refreshed website (pcmedia.co.nz), and a view towards moving more into the cloud. The company has a small retail space with a workshop in the back, where the company's full time technical staff can OEM and build custom PCs. PC Media is Toshiba's top of the South Island repair centre.
The company uses a single on-premise server which the company uses to stream installation files.
"We don’t have any infrastructure, per se," Harper says. "Everything is pretty much cloud-based."
Harper says the company has become a true cloud consultant, renting and managining space on servers on behalf of its customers. “We use two companies, one’s the Pacific Net in Nelson, and the other is Inspire Net in Palmerston North. In Blenheim we have two fibre providers; Network Tasman and Chorus, who are currently digging up the roads for their UFB."
“Both Inspire Net and the Pacific Net access the Network Tasman fibre which is a very fast premium fibre product. And that’s what we tend to use for the bigger cloud deployments. We’ve got less than three milliseconds between Palmerston North and here."
Harper says the cloud model has funadmentally changed the way PC Media does business.
“All the billing is done monthly. So for businesses we’ve totally transformed the way we quote," Harper says. "Instead of turning up and saying ‘you need to buy a ten grand server, and twenty grand's worth of workstations, we now just sit and we say 'this is your per user per month cost'. It works very well in the vineyards because the staff in the vineyards can vary, for example this time of year there is minimal staff compared to vintage time and they can just turn resources on and off as they need."
“That’s the great thing about cloud computing. Whereas before you had to sit down and work out where is this company going to be in three years time and what bigger box am I going to sell them, but now it just doesn’t matter because everything is scalable.”
Harper says Blenheim is one of the nicest places he can think of to live. “The weather is always gorgeous here. You’ve got the sounds with all the boating and you got Rainbow Ski Fields about an hour’s drive, nice parks etc. It’s a very pleasant place to live.”
Harper said the move from techie to sales was a natural progression for him.
“I’ve always loved solving people’s IT problems and looking slightly outside the box," he says. "In the sales role it was actually quite fun because I was able to think from the client’s perspective and come up with some good solutions and I find that sort of thing quite exciting and that’s where cloud lights my fire because you’re not just stuck in the mould of ‘I’m selling a small business server’ you can work with the customer and come up with something different which is more cost effective and more mobile.”