TL; DR: With 300 developers working to perfect their automation codebase, Odin provides software to power the cloud ecosystems of companies large and small. Odin’s Automation Essentials enables organizations to sell syndicated cloud and hosting services through a single, comprehensive platform that handles sales, billing, payment processing, provisioning, and management of cloud services and related value-added offerings. Powering the top telecommunications companies and large cloud service providers, Odin Automation Premium adds an extra layer of features, covering high availability, business intelligence, and flexibility, to integrate with a partner’s pre-existing processes for business and customer relationship management. Since being purchased by IT distributing giant Ingram Micro in December 2015, Odin has continued to innovate in automation and support partners by sharing business acumen and through workshops.
Years ago, Alex Goncharov ran his own hosting company and managed others in Singapore, Russia, and Canada. With only five full-time employees, he used Odin Business Automation Standard to scale his business to serve 5,000 customers and achieve $1 million in recurring revenue after just a few years.
“The role of a hosting automation solution for small or medium hosters is critically important because it allows you to scale with a very small footprint,” Alex said. “It allows hosters to grow with a small operational team while having the ability to manage a large number of customers.”
Now a Senior Product Manager for Odin, Alex and a team of 300 software developers are creating the next generation of business automation for hosting and telecommunications companies. With Automation Essentials and Automation Premium, Odin aims to help partners accelerate, profit, and scale their businesses by navigating and automating cloud services across all sales channels.
Automation Essentials: Complete Platform for Efficiency and Profitability
Although Business Automation Standard has been a leading automation product for Odin since 2004, the company will discontinue the platform this year in favor of Automation Essentials, which shares the same codebase as the premium version of Odin’s automation system. More than 300 software developers contribute to the platform and its service modules, according to Vice President of Sales and Marketing Pavel Ershov.
“The beauty of having a single codebase is that all of our developers are working on the same code,” he said. “The mountain of innovation we provide and will continue to deliver to the platform is available not only to our largest partners but also to smaller hosting providers, which I believe is quite exciting.”
According to Alex, Automation Essentials is a self-hosted, self-managed platform similar to Business Automation Standard. In addition to traditional hosting services, such as domain registration, shared hosting, VPS hosting, and SSL certificates, the platform also offers syndicated services including Microsoft Office 365, Dynamics CRM, Enterprise Mobility Suite, and Azure.
“It’s a turnkey automation and billing solution that covers the full range of traditional and new hosting services,” he said. “It comes with a number of very popular plugins that our customers are using today, as well as a software development kit to allow you to create your own payment and domain plugins.”
Why Growing Businesses Use Essentials for Speed and Scaling
Odin engineers developed Automation Essentials from Automation Premium to provide a better, more comprehensive system for small and mid-size hosting companies. The premium version of the platform offers increased flexibility and integrations, according to Pavel.
“That is quite important for larger players, but it comes with a cost,” he said. “For smaller hosters, it’s much more important to be up and running quicker and cheaper.”
Instead of negotiating contracts and maintaining and delivering different products from multiple vendors, Automation Essentials provides a single platform that handles online ordering, billing, payment processing, configuration, and provisioning while providing prepacked and preconfigured services that hosters can start selling in a matter of hours.
“It’s obviously easier for any business to manage one system with a unified user interface versus multiple systems with different platforms,” Pavel said. “In Odin Automation Essentials and Premium, we provide a seamless and intuitive user experience across all services, which is very important for smaller companies when they start. This also simplifies the sign-up and upsell process, driving more revenue for hosters.”
By eliminating setup times for cloud service partnerships, hosting companies can quickly offer new products and updates to capitalize on increased revenue streams. Automating business operations helps smaller organizations focus their efforts on customer service, marketing, business development, and managed services rather than building and maintaining infrastructure.
How Odin Streamlines Cloud Services Management
Automation Essentials, which supports up to 30,000 end-customer accounts, centralizes the management of cloud businesses with a single control panel for sales, customer data, usage metrics, and more. In addition to several plugins to help with payment processing and domain registration, Alex mentioned several current and upcoming advantages of Automation Essentials:
- Preconfigured and ready to sell Microsoft CSP services, including Office 365, Dynamics CRM, and Enterprise Mobility Suite
- Shared hosting module, powered by Plesk Onyx, which also supports WordPress hosting
- New VPS hosting module that accommodates Virtuozzo 7
- Microsoft Azure service module
- SSL certificate sales and deployment
By developing modules with customer feedback in mind, Alex said that new features, such as the unified user interface, WordPress hosting services, and functionalities like taking over Plesk servers and enabling hosters to provide containers and virtual machines using the same hardware strengthen the Automation Essentials platform with some “really, really cool” tools.
“These are things our partners and their customers have been asking for some time,” he said. “In addition, by being part of Ingram Micro Cloud, with their vast portfolio of cloud vendors, global infrastructure, and strategic focus on the Cloud and mobility, we continue to see many new exciting cloud services in our products.”
Automation Premium: Integrations to Modernize Cloud Businesses
Despite sharing a common codebase, Alex said that Odin considers the needs of businesses of all sizes and needs when figuring out how to differentiate the automation platforms.
“Automation Premium, designed for large hosters and telcos, is a flexible platform that comes with custom software development services and is professionally deployed, customized, and integrated with an existing or external infrastructure,” he said. “Automation Essentials, on the other hand, is tailored toward small and medium service providers and is kind of like the box product you can get off the shelf. You install within a few hours and get up and running with an online store, billing and provisioning systems for all the services you need, and they’re all preconfigured and ready to sell.”
Large-scale hosters have similar needs as smaller companies but typically already have CRM or accounting systems established, Pavel said. In those cases, Automation Premium integrates with the software by providing data that feeds into the external programs.
“All of that requires quite extensive Open APIs to be present in the software, and it also requires professional services that we provide to those customers in order to make those integrations and custom software development happen if needed,” he said. “Our overall strategy is to serve the whole spectrum of the hosting industry, from the smallest startup companies to larger organizations who may have millions of customers.”
Acquisition by Ingram Micro Leading to Consolidated Cloud Marketplace
Global IT distribution company Ingram Micro acquired Odin from Parallels in 2015 to strengthen the company’s cloud services. Now that Odin business units have integrated with the Ingram Micro Cloud division, Pavel said Odin’s focus for 2017 is figuring how to “leverage the footprint and power of Ingram Micro to drive more value to our existing customers and new prospects.”
Ingram Micro Cloud provisions their services through a marketplace powered by Automation Premium, and Odin engineers are creating a federated marketplace that will enable software partners to resell SaaS-syndicated services in the same space.
“We want to be the bridge that can help hosters manage multiple vendors and ISVs, as well as sell more services to their customer base,” Pavel said. “This is one key value that wasn’t possible in the past because Odin was part of a smaller company. Now, being part of a large, multinational distributor, it is possible.”
Fostering “Mountains of Innovation” and Positive Partner Relationships
For Pavel, his team does more than just provide the tools to help hosting companies succeed — they show customers how to capitalize on the platform’s advantages.
“We are bringing a lot of value to our customers both in terms of technology as well as knowing the business,” he said. “Because we work with hundreds of customers worldwide from various countries, we accumulate a lot of knowledge on what works and what doesn’t in the Cloud and hosting industries.”
Customers’ success directly translates into Odin’s success, according to Pavel, who said employees are measured in part by their customers’ achievements.
“We accumulate quite a lot of experience and best practices that we love to share with our partners,” he said, adding Odin regularly hosts public events, summits, and individual workshops to help partners be more successful. “It’s not only about the technical expertise or technical support. It’s also about the business acumen that we can share.”