ClearCenter provides an open service delivery platform (ClearSDN) uniquely tailored to fit the IT needs of small business that is simple, secure & affordable. It is based in Salt Lake City and Toronto. We spoke with Michael Proper, ClearCenter CEO, about his company and what he sees as the future for small business and distributed environments.
Silicon Slopes: Your new company ClearCenter just launched. Can you give us an overview of the company and its early successes?
Michael Proper: ClearCenter is an Information Technology vendor for small business and distributed IT environments. Through our partners, we deploy a revolutionary open source network and gateway server and managed services for up to 50 users per location. The ClearCenter solution has two components. The first is ClearOS, an open source network and gateway server Linux distribution provided by the ClearFoundation. The second, ClearSDN, is a service delivery platform whereby MSP partners can offer software updates, new feature modules, technical support and cloud based services such as off-site server backup, dynamic DNS, content filtration, intrusion detection, and much more to come. ClearOS and ClearSDN will be available in September, 2009.
Though a start-up, ClearCenter uses ClearOS, which is based upon a fifth generation Linux distribution (historically know as Clark Connect) with over 118,000 registered sites and 10x more protected users. With over 20 languages in 120 countries, ClearCenter has an instant global reach with over 200 partners world-wide. We are launching ClearCenter as the leading open source distribution for network and gateway server.
Silicon Slopes: How does ClearCenter’s strategy provide value for its partners?
Michael Proper: ClearCenter’s strategy allows partners to layer service, consulting and monitoring fees on top of a recurring revenue stream from content delivery through ClearSDN. Network management for small business or distributed environment requires structured network architecture, management, monitoring and consultation to properly meet the needs of the business. ClearOS provides partners with a proven network and gateway server technology with an innovative service delivery platform using ClearSDN.
Silicon Slopes: How does ClearCenter fit the IT needs of small businesses?
Michael Proper: ClearCenter is open, simple, secure and affordable. ClearOS offers an elegant and comprehensive tool that can be adapted to any environment up to 50 users location. At many sites, ClearCenter provides everything needed for network and gateway management - ClearOS is the only network and gateway function on-site. Yet ClearOS can be tailored to provide a single function like intrusion detection or anti-virus if required. Because of its commercial open source business model, ClearCenter partners can deliver a complete, secure solution for small business for much less than proprietary commercial solutions.
Silicon Slopes: How do you believe the landscape for small business and distributed environments will change in the future?
Michael Proper: This is perhaps the most important topic of our time because the changes happening to small business are tremendous. Small business has always been the most productive segment of the economy. With our economy changing, small business will become dramatically more important and the newly unemployed workers will enter the market as entrepreneurs, consultants and contractors. This not only creates a wave of new small businesses, but a new wealth of technical expertise entering the market as potential new partners for ClearCenter. With this economic change also comes pressure to reduce the expense required for secure IT solutions. ClearCenter clearly enters the market with a game-changing strategy on multiple fronts.
Silicon Slopes: It appears that ClearCenter’s platform puts a larger emphasis on the cloud. In your experience, are more small businesses adopting cloud apps like Google Apps or are they preferring to stay with client-based apps?
Michael Proper: The beauty of the ClearCenter strategy is its ability to mesh client-based, on-premise, and cloud based applications. Google has changed computing applications forever with its reliable, secure portals for email, shared documents, and collaborative groupware. Fortune 500 companies have used cloud-based applications for years; now these technologies are available to small business, all seamlessly provisioned and managed through the ClearCenter solution.
Silicon Slopes: In light of the recent Twitter breach, does ClearCenter have an extra level of security to ensure data privacy?
Michael Proper: ClearCenter employs multiple levels of security. To be precise, all Web-based applications are "in the cloud" - Google, Amazon, salesforce.com, Mozy, online banking and Web-based email reside in data centers serving the web or cloud. Cloud-based applications are secure and reliable, sometimes more than client-based applications because they are managed by a team of security professionals with 24-hour monitoring and advanced security applications. Personal data has long been available via the web and the Twitter breach is only a high-profile example of a single security breach. ClearCenter will enable users to host their data with Google, other hosted services or on-premise with their ClearOS server. Customers have the ability to assess their needs and choose the architecture that best fits their environment.
Silicon Slopes: You were the founder of IT outsourcing company DirectPointe. How does your experience at DirectPointe relate to launching ClearCenter?
Michael Proper: I have a passion for the value that ClearCenter customers, partners and employees can glean from an open source strategy. DirectPointe did an amazing job at serving the needs of medium to large organizations with skilled technicians and proprietary equipment. Each time DirectPointe endeavored to create a solution for small business or distributed environments, it was clear that the expense and management was too great for a site with a small number of team members. Through my research, I came to comprehend a model for small business using open-source technologies that would be open, simple, secure and affordable for these environments - the ClearCenter strategy.
Silicon Slopes: How is the company funded?
Michael Proper: Today both ClearCenter and the ClearFoundation are privately funded.
Silicon Slopes: You have started several successful companies in the past. What is driving you to continually start new ventures?
Michael Proper: The driver is creating value for the customer. Our entire strategy is based upon each member of the solution delivering their element of value to the customer. Whenever I see a gap between the customer and value that needs to be delivered, my wheels begin to spin about the best way to organize and deliver that value. There was a nagging gap between the network management needs of small business and current solutions. ClearCenter fills that gap with right value for small business and the distributed environment.
Silicon Slopes: What has been the biggest key to success?
Michael Proper: I care about people in general, specifically team members, partners and ultimately the customers. Customers need to see that we care about them and the value we deliver. Partners need to feel that we care and want to help them build a profitable business model and eventually truly be able to retire if desired with some security. Team members need to feel caring and direction in their career and lives. From my perspective, focus on caring drives success and brings meaning to life!