All for Oz, and Oz for all

Cloud competitors Ninefold and OrionVM should join forces in order to become globally competitive.
Written by Mahesh Sharma, Correspondent

Cloud competitors Ninefold and OrionVM should join forces in order to become globally competitive.

Both are in their early stages, and they have made significant in-roads into the industry and have achieved this in very different ways.

Backed by the deep pockets of Macquarie Telecom, Ninefold has established a well-known presence through a huge marketing and advertising campaign and PR blitz, including banner advertising, sponsorship of a number of start-up events and handing out free credit to test the platform.

Interestingly, I was recently told that the company has taken to paying $100 to entrepreneurs who are willing to attend start-up community events while wearing a Ninefold T-shirt. Pretty powerful grassroots branding.

In the other corner is OrionVM, co-founded by three university engineering students who have developed some proven, high-performance technology, and, most importantly, this is proprietary. Independent tests show that in key tests, OrionVM significantly outperforms all competitors, including Amazon and Ninefold.

Like any self-respecting developers, they expect their technology to do the talking, but this, unfortunately, is not the best strategy when it comes to cracking the lucrative corporate market. While their efforts have generated lots of positive press, they have struggled to get their message to the wider market.

The company was recently validated with an angel investment round and appointment of board members, accomplished technology veterans Gordon Bell and Steve Baxter, which will no doubt help to accelerate the pace of development, and propel the company's ambitions to expand overseas.

It's just as well that the company already has one eye on the States, because Australia is a country that ain't big enough for the both of them.

OrionVM now has a couple hundred clients ranging from start-ups to large corporates, and the company has grown at a very impressive rate since it was founded earlier this year — doubling customer numbers every month.

However, the curse of growing bigger is that this growth curve will level off at some point.

I'm not privy to Ninefold's growth, but its biggest challenges are the limited local market and the fact that cloud behemoth Amazon Web Services has significantly ramped up its marketing efforts at the grassroots level. It can't be expected to compete with the resources of Amazon.

Combining the sales nous of Ninefold with the tech savvy of OrionVM would produce a mutually beneficial outcome, not only for the companies, but also for the local cloud industry and — by extension — its customers.

In addition to providing a higher level of performance to start-ups, Ninefold would have a better product proposition, as it pushes into the lucrative corporate markets that crave the highest levels of reliability and performance from their technology, and are willing to pay for it.

On the other hand, OrionVM could start to host the customers and scale to challenge the limits of its platforms, which would encourage unforeseen innovation. This would also help to produce new growth markets for the company, both locally and overseas, and enhance its reputation to provide corporate-grade levels of service.

In the long term, this would boost both companies' chances of competing on the world stage, which is where all Australian start-ups should be setting their gaze.

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