Agosto digs deeper into Google relationship

Focused on Google Apps migration since 2001, the Minneapolis cloud integrator is now building managed services and applications atop Google Compute Engine.

Minneapolis-based Google partner Agosto has logged plenty of success stories representing the cloud services giant's applications.

Now, it is digging deeper into that relationship by building services leveraging the Google Compute Engine, an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) offering that competes with services from cloud infrastructure heavyweights Amazon and Rackspace.

"We see this as a strategic platform that can be transformative to our clients," said Aric Bandy, CEO of Agosto and past chairman of the cloud giant's enterprise advisory council.

Founded about 12 years ago, one thing that differentiates Agosto from its peers is its deep background in strategic business consulting: Its co-founders logged many professional services hours with IBM Global Services and Accenture. Its first project involved migrating a $100 million company completely off its on-premises technology onto a combination of NetSuite enterprise software and Google Apps, Bandy said. (Technically, Agosto doesn't handle NetSuite deployments, but it partnered with another solution provider to pull off that initial implementation.)

By committing to the Google infrastructure service, rather than opting for another cloud infrastructure platform, Agosto can be more efficient about helping clients automate more — if not all — of their business processes in the cloud. Aside from its Google Apps management and provisioning services, the company handles custom application development. It has been investing in the Google Compute Engine for approximately one year, and is also building out services related to the Google Maps and geospatial technologies, Bandy said.

While the middle parts of the United States and Canada (Agosto has a significant presence north of the US-Canada border) isn't necessarily known for taking risks on technology, Bandy said more regional businesses are warming up to the Google Enterprise proposition. Some of Agosto's clients include Tower Automotive, 2nd Wind Exercise, Famous Dave's, Goodwill Easter Seals, and Minnesota Wild.

One customer, Brake Supply Co (a division of Koch Enterprises), used Agosto to move off a hosted Microsoft Exchange solution onto Google Apps: It will save approximately $1 million over the next five years as a result, according to Agosto.

Technically speaking, Agosto is a Microsoft partner: It invests in that knowledge in order to be able to assess how or not a prospective client could benefit from Google Apps.

"We know how much support Google Apps takes versus a similar size SharePoint or Exchange environment. We can walk in their shoes," Bandy said.

That background definitely helped in the case of the Brake Supply, which considered sticking with Microsoft before going to Google.

"They would have you believe that the easiest path is just to stay on their systems, but in all the whitepapers and case studies I read from their perspective, they didn't demonstrate a deficiency with Google — except it just wasn't Outlook. They didn't seem to be forward thinking, and did not show me efficiencies. Their whole pitch was about their enterprise agreement and licenses. They never let me know how it was going to help my business."