We talked to Richard May of virtualDCS on how to provide innovative, quality cloud computing solutions to businesses worldwide, from UK based data centres and this is what he had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Richard May: Very well, thank you. It’s a challenge for everyone adjusting to home working and a new way of living. I’ve not experienced COVID-19 first-hand, but some friends and family have. It’s quite humbling to see people band together, support each other and adapt to a new working way.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded virtualDCS.
Richard May: I’ve always had a keen interest in technology. I was 11 years old when I got my first Sinclair ZX8, and my fascination with the application of computer technology in the real world began. During my years in the IT industry, I have worked with everything from Punch cards to Public Clouds, gaining experience in both the Service Provider and Cloud sectors, helping create IT strategies that improve productivity and growth.
In 2000 I worked in the ICM Computer Group where my career led me to virtualization, and I developed a strong interest in hosted IT services and virtualization technologies. Since then, I have been in many core VMware and Microsoft projects that have helped shape the Cloud into the ‘as a service’ model today.
In 2008, some colleagues and I decided to form virtualDCS. I’m proud to say the company has grown year on year since conception and that we still have our first ever customer on the platform, which speaks for itself.virtualDCS offers various cloud-based solutions including Hosting, infrastructure services and Disaster Recovery to businesses globally, utilizing technology such as Veeam, VMware and Microsoft. One of these services is CloudCover 365. The only browser-based Veeam powered backup solution for Microsoft 365.
How does virtualDCS innovate?
Richard May: We pride ourselves on delivering innovative solutions to the marketplace. We do this by finding the innovation gaps, putting ourselves in the customer’s shoes and looking at things from a new perspective. We believe technology should work around a business and that an organization shouldn’t have to work around a piece of technology.
At virtualDCS, we harness a ‘what if’ culture, encouraging our team to look at things differently and improve standard practices. We look at what businesses are currently doing to manage a process, consider if they are doing it effectively, and what technologies can alleviate any pain points.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Richard May: To ensure our staff and customers safety, we initiated a remote working strategy in early March, before the UK Government recommended to do so. As our business is around cloud technology, we already had a range of tools in place for remote working. Still, employee availability needed to be as transparent at home as it was in the office. Because of this, we’ve become increasingly reliant on Microsoft Teams for internal and external communication and calls. Making sure that we’re singing from the same Hymn sheet is vital.
When we started to work remotely, we also looked at how we could support other businesses through the transition, which is why we offered free IT business support and advice to help them thrive in the new working environment. We also used our experience to pool together a suite of remote working services, including Microsoft Teams and our secure file-sharing software, Nimbox.
We also co-founded a business group called The Yorkshire Business Club, which has acted as a resource pool and support community for local businesses during the crisis. It’s been incredibly inspiring to watch businesses pivot from physical to virtual models and see organizations band together to support each other through lockdown periods.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Richard May: In regards to COVID-19 and its business impact, we were fortunate that due to the nature of our business, we were ready to work remotely. It hasn’t been the case for some of our customer bases, and we’ve had to work with customers to help them adapt to the new way of working. We decided not to furlough any of our staff and take a more proactive approach to gain more business by adding four new members to our team during this challenging period.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Richard May: Now more than ever, it’s essential to have time away from a screen and spend time with family.Taking my dog for a walk and getting fresh air away from the office also helps.
Working at home has dramatically altered the divide between work and personal lives, and I think it’s essential to keep that separation where possible. Simultaneously, the lack of social interaction is also detrimental to mental health, so we’ve tried to keep our employees regularly interacting through online socials. We’ve had Cocktail nights and company quizzes, and we’re even having a work Christmas social this week via Microsoft Teams.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Richard May: Many other organizations provide cloud services globally, three of the most notable for many are Microsoft, Amazon AWS and Google. It’s vital for businesses considering cloud services to investigate service levels provided by their suppliers. There’s a common misconception that a more significant name means a bigger and better service, but this isn’t the case. My team and the service we provide both pre and post-sales is how we make a difference. People need to be honestly informed when making a decision, so we see it as our moral responsibility to suggest appropriate solutions, not just what is best for us.
Your final thoughts?
Richard May: Innovation has been food for thought in 2020 for organizations, but this has been fundamental to virtualDCS from its conception. Organizations need to consider that rush to the Cloud this year is not without its issues. Don’t forget that pre-Covid, companies had multi-year digital transformation projects, that many companies have completed in weeks. It’s also important to remember that the Cloud Providers such a Microsoft and Google are not responsible for your data, you are. They don’t get as a standard back up your data, provide GDPR compliance, stop data theft or protect against Malware etc. Don’t forget to make sure you have got these covered.