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How Lego Blocks Influenced Infrastructure as a Service

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In this episode of Colliers Talks’ Tech to Watch Series, Jamieson Jackson and ThinkOn Founder and CEO Craig McLellan discuss the evolution of infrastructure as a service and how companies can use their data to their advantage. Craig also explains how Lego blocks influenced the creation of the infrastructure as a service company ThinkOn. 

At its core, ThinkOn is a large group of technologists who are trying to solve problems – and that’s exactly what Craig was trying to do when he founded ThinkOn in 2013. As a former Chief Technology Officer, Craig launched ThinkOn with the realization that, as infrastructure as a service continued to gain popularity, there was a significant gap in the market for channel-friendly products developed for the reseller community and channel partners.  

Infrastructure as a service allows the consumer to focus on what they need today instead of trying to forecast what their needs might be in the future, and then add on as needed. Not only does ThinkOn provide an economic advantage to its clients, but it also provides the flexibility of consumption, meaning clients can size for their needs today and as their consumption grows, upgrade to a larger threshold without having to reinvent their existing infrastructure.  

“If we could build very consistent Lego blocks, whether it be eight or ten different services that would snap together and allow our resellers and our subscribers to build solutions that solve their problems, delivering outcomes that work for them, then there was a better chance that our services would get traction,” says Craig.  

When first launching its services, ThinkOn faced an interesting challenge: consumers wanted to see the end result, similar to when you purchase a Lego set and see illustrations of the finished product displayed on the box. To meet consumer needs, ThinkOn had to shift its business model to present the outcome and solution that were possible because of its services versus the makeup of those services. 

ThinkOn has stayed true to its origin story of the Lego block thesis; all of its services fit together to create an economical, buildable outcome that makes sense for the end user and their bottom line. Comparing ThinkOn to Lego, Craig does note that “some people can build very sophisticated things with Lego... we like to build easy-to-understand things with our Lego blocks, which can be used to solve problems and ultimately empower the customer.” 

Catering to businesses that are looking for data protection solutions, have an understanding of the severe impact that ransomware and malware could have on their business, and are aware of the need for disaster recovery management, ThinkOn is a one-stop-shop for an organization’s data protection needs with a unique approach to customer relationship management. 

As a channel-based organization, ThinkOn works with channel partners to provide its solutions to partner consumers. This approach allows the channel partner to own the relationship with the end consumer while enabling ThinkOn to piece its services together, ensure each piece ‘snaps’ together, and verify the services required are both available and priced appropriately for the client.  

When asked about the future of ThinkOn and the infrastructure as a service industry, Craig notes that the annualized growth rate for data is 24% per year. This provides a significant tailwind for ThinkOn and reaffirms the need for companies like ThinkOn as more organizations wake up to the benefits of conducting long-tail analytics to forecast future business needs, begin to rely on datasets for decision-making, and need to perform analytics on-demand. As organizations become more technologically savvy, they are realizing that there is more to data than just the fiduciary duty they may have; there may also be a business case to retain data for longer periods of time. 

As for the future of the office, Craig envisions an increase in smaller, regional offices where people can come together, collaborate, and work on the business, and then go away, work remotely, and work in the business, also known as asynchronous management. 

While all companies and types of data require a different approach and varied levels of protection, one thing is for certain – infrastructure as a service, and ThinkOn’s Lego block approach, is here to stay.  



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For More Information, Please Contact:

Jamieson Jackson

Managing Director, Office Practice Group | GTA

Toronto Downtown

Jamie Jackson serves as the Managing Director for the GTA Office Practice Group.  He has been helping to grow the business since September 2020.  

Prior to joining Colliers, he was the Director of the Financial Services practice at Iron Mountain, where he had increasingly senior sales and sales management roles in the financial services and technology sectors.

He also took a 10 year detour into running an international marketing agency, ending up as the CEO until the entire business was sold and he returned to his selling roots in financial services.

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