Case Studies

OSO Grande

After internet, now it focuses on customizing data technology

To understand what makes OSO Grande different from other data center technology providers, think about going to a restaurant.

“When you go to some of our competitors, you get a menu and you choose from that menu,” says Richard Vasquez, director of sales and business development. “So, for example, they may only provide a full rack for you to put your data servers in even if you really only need a third of a rack or a half-rack.” In providing secure colocation, disaster recovery and power and mechanical system recovery, as well as business continuity services, Oso Grande does just the opposite.

OSO Grande

“We listen to what the customers need in specifics [and] truly cater to what [they] need versus dictating what we can provide them,” Vasquez says.

In some cases, serving customers is as simple as OSO Grande allowing them to choose who provides their internet. In other instances, it’s installing offices at the data center so clients can have employees onsite.

“We want to be remembered as a company that pioneers, innovates,” says Dennis Jontz, chairman of the board who’s been with the company for decades. “We do what the customer wants and we are willing to spend the time and the money.”

In the past, OSO Grande focused on ISP

OSO Grande has a history of being the first company to provide a service, or rather, provide it in a certain way when technology becomes available.

“We do what the customer wants and we are willing to spend the time and money to do something that is not a commodity.”

In fact, many people still think of it as an internet service provider (ISP) because it was one of the first self-supporting businesses with this model in the nation. OSO Grande started in 1984 as a spin-off of the nonprofit TechNet, which was created a few years earlier by U.S. Sen. Pete Dominici to make internet accessible to New Mexico. As of four or five years ago, it was still the sixth largest IP address owner in the nation, according to Jontz.

Today OSO Grande still provides limited ISP services, but that part of the business is no longer the focus.

The decision to shift from ISP to data center technologies came around 2005, according to Jontz.

At the time, he says, internet was becoming more common and cheaper. As OSO Grande was forced to compete with national conglomerates, the company decided to keep innovating, not stagnate or “become a commodity,” says Jontz.

Data services was the next logical innovation

OSO Grande decided to pursue data center technology on the recommendation of a board member.

“We had the absolute experts in New Mexico in the ISP business… we had the best networking, the best internet,” says Jontz. “When we moved over to data center we had to shift away from that and into a new level of expertise.”
Oso Grande also had to dig for funds.

“We were initially misadvised as to the amount of capital it takes to provide a reliable data center,” says Jontz. “Our capital is all from our investors and it took a while to get the investors enthused about capital injections.”

The first customer using these services was Public Services Company of New Mexico, an electric company. Having such a prominent customer “kind of drove the start of the business,” says Jontz. Today, clients using OSO Grande include national and local businesses like law firms, technology companies as well as government and educational entities.

“A lot of [business] decisions we make can be [made] within hours instead of days and weeks.”

Through this transition and others, OSO Grande has been able to adapt by staying nimble. Part of that approach is having few, but very competent, employees. When the company needs expert advice, says Jontz, it relies on consultants.

Another factor contributing to the company adaptability is local board members who, for the most part, have been with OSO Grande for decades.

“A lot of [business] decisions we make can be [made] within hours instead of days and weeks” like it would be at a larger organization, says Vasquez, the sales and business development director.

Staying nimble

Oso Grande has used resources like the New Mexico Technology Council (NMTC) to help spread the word it is no longer just providing internet but is also a nimble data center. The NMTC is a member-driven organization committed to promoting the growth and success of New Mexico’s technology industry through networking and education.

In coming years, however, one of its greatest resources will be its own building.

Around a year ago, OSO Grande purchased the building in downtown Albuquerque it had been leasing for years. That has enabled it to make renovations aimed at future customers, which include diverse ISP entry points into the facility, more space dedicated for colocation and disaster recovery and other data center technologies. The renovations also include a planned customer and technician lounge complete with a coffee bar. For customers who spend time at OSO Grande, these upgrades will help make the building not just a data center, but a technology hub.

“We do what the customer wants,” says Jontz, “and we are willing to spend the time and money to do something that is not a commodity.”

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