Headquartered in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park, XSInc offers internet-based software as a service (SaaS) and specializes in data collection, integration, analysis and online reporting from more retailers serving the agriculture, turf and ornamental industries.

Customer data requires a solid colocation vendor

Like most industries, agricultural businesses face both the opportunities and challenges that come with big data. From farmers in the field to seed manufacturers, big data has the potential to transform agriculture. Yet on its own, the data has little meaning. For over 18 years, chemical and seed manufacturers and distributors have turned to XSInc to help make sense of their data through analysis, leading to process innovation, cost savings and efficiency gains.

Customers provide XSInc with large amounts of data from multiple sources including sales, GPS, public databases and crop sampling. XSInc then standardizes the data and performs an analysis to uncover actionable insights that customers can use to make business improvements ranging from evaluating product pricing for sales growth, to better understanding when a seed, chemical or technique performs optimally based on conditions.

The servers that house critical customer data would be easy for XSInc’s experienced IT staff to manage on-site, but were colocated so staff could focus on other important projects and client matters. Also, the customer data that moves through XSInc’s servers is the crux of its business. A major failure in the infrastructure used to process that data could cause serious damage – another reason XSInc decided on colocation.

After eight years, XSInc was nearing the end of its contract with a local colocation facility. The facility no longer fit XSInc’s needs and it was an ideal time to make a change. Timothy Carroll, XSInc’s IT infrastructure lead responsible for managing the company’s IT partnerships and vendor selection, began the process of looking at other options, hoping to find a more reliable partner at a better value.

“We were motivated to move and ready to make a change,” said Timothy. “The search was on for greater value from top to bottom – from generators to fire suppression, space on the floor and even cleanliness of the facility.”

Compliant colocation in a great location

While Timothy evaluated different colocation facilities, he remembered a new Flexential data center had opened a couple of years prior, just one block away from the XSInc office. He did some research and decided to check out Flexential’s Raleigh data center as an option. “After years of working with a colocation facility that was adequate at best, it was ironic that, through the process of researching and seeking out the perfect partner, the solution was literally staring us in the eye the entire time – right across the street,” said Timothy.

Location was a big factor in XSInc’s decision to look at Flexential. XSInc has extremely large databases that are impractical to copy over the Internet, so its IT team wanted the flexibility to go onsite and conveniently perform routine maintenance tasks without wasting time driving across town.

XSInc was also impressed by the facility and Flexential’s focus on compliance and security. XSInc requires data center vendors meet SSAE 16, PCI DSS, and must provide periodic SOC 2 and SOC 3 reports. Just knowing that Flexential meets those requirements for customers in its data center was validation of Flexential as a reputable and reliable partner.

“We aren’t required by law to operate under regulatory compliance but we operate as if we are in order to be good stewards of our clients’ data, so we look to industry standard certifications that speak to the reliability and reputation of the facility,” said Timothy. “On top of that, Flexential had all the bells and whistles that made us feel our data was safe, such as multi-factor authentication for entrance to the facility, 24/7 video monitoring and tight standards and practices for employees.”

Tangible results and a peace of mind that money can’t buy

According to Timothy, the Flexential data center far surpassed anything else XSInc considered. On top of higher value, the cost was much lower than XSInc’s previous colocation provider. The move to Flexential reduced colocation costs by 25 percent.

“It was a no-brainer to go with Flexential. We were getting the best facility and service, at a lower cost,” said Timothy. “It didn’t take long before we also began to see intangible cost savings that were less obvious when we signed on. I can call the Technical Assistance Center and know I won’t get nickel and dimed if I need them to reboot a server. They aren’t going to charge me a remote hands fee just to push a button. You don’t get that level of service with other providers.

XSInc also enjoys the peace of mind that comes with knowing its customer databases and mission-critical workloads are in a reliable and secure facility with redundancies in place. Flexential ensures the redundancy, bandwidth and availability that XSInc needs to process large amounts of customer data. If anything goes down, Timothy and his team can sleep peacefully through the night because a redundant system is in place and ready to take over without incident.

Timothy and his team have been so satisfied with Flexential that they’ve renewed their contract every three years and have been a customer for over eight years.

“Flexential has done a fantastic job and delivered on everything they promised,” said Timothy. “They treat us the same way they treat companies who take up three times the space that we do. That’s really important to us and we trust Flexential. They’re a critical part of our business.”