A Rare Bird In I.T. - Hurricane Computer Solutions

A Rare Bird In I.T. – Hurricane Computer Solutions

Date PublishedMarch 24, 2016
CompanyHurricane Computer Solutions Inc.
Article AuthorZac Bolan
Article TypeMarch 2016 Issue
CategoryArticles, Business, Feature
Tags, , , , ,
PULSE Interactive

A Rare Bird In I.T. – Hurricane Computer Solutions

A Rare Bird In I.T. - Hurricane Computer Solutions

"We spent our carpet budget on hardware,” jokes James Caldwell, president of Hurricane Computer Solutions Inc., as he enthusiastically describes his operation. Indeed, the Hurricane office floors are functional, bare concrete while the desks are brimming with a wealth of technology.

Caldwell explains Hurricane is a hybrid managed service provider/cloud service provider that delivers support, strategy, management, and remediation services to meet their client’s business needs. Caldwell’s knowledge and passion for IT is apparent in every aspect of Hurricane’s operation, from their fully redundant Canadian private cloud services to their personal approach to technical support.

At 26, Caldwell is unique in his industry, having parlayed a natural gift for technology management into a formidable presence in the complex and competitive IT services world. While youthful, the dynamic entrepreneur has deep experience in IT having founded Hurricane while in his teens.

Initially, Hurricane’s services included building systems and consulting to the small/home office market. At fourteen, Caldwell was administering Microsoft Exchange for his junior high school, where he gained an interest in working on larger, enterprise scale systems. By the time he was 18, Caldwell had already gained a wealth of real- world knowledge that rivaled IT professionals many years his senior.

Hurricane’s first major IT support role was with Homburg Canada, a major player in the real estate world that owns and manages several properties in Calgary, including the Penn West twin towers. In a project building out Penn West’s security structure, Caldwell was introduced to demanding high-availability and high-performance database work, which led into a focus on industrial automation. Hurricane then expanded into the high-stakes world of managing the IT infrastructure of control systems for upstream and midstream oil and gas clients – where downtime can cost tens of thousands of dollars an hour.

James Caldwell | President

“Hurricane has a history working with control systems that cannot go down,” explains Caldwell, “failure and unavailability of those servers is just flat-out not tolerated.” To meet this stringent up-time requirement, Hurricane architected custom, redundant server solutions for their clients.

“Only a handful of people in Canada can support the IT for these control systems,” says Caldwell, “making Hurricane a rare bird in the IT industry.”

“Much of the time industrial IT doesn’t play nice in the enterprise world and vice versa,” Caldwell continues. “Hurricane specializes in bridging the gap between the industrial site out in the field and the head office, because we speak both languages.” As an added value to their clients, Hurricane brings the extreme availability requirements from the industrial control world back into the enterprise.

Based on this industrial experience, when Hurricane hosts MS Exchange for example, they employ multiple servers instead of one, which delivers multiple redundancies. Every single service in the cluster is duplicated at least once to provide a seamless and continuous user experience for enterprise clients.hurricane-logo

“Because we’ve built and run this architecture repeatedly, we are positioned incredibly well for growth,” adds Caldwell. “This gives us a competitive edge over pro-videos that simply resell MS Office 365 or other off-the-shelf hosting solutions, because they don’t have the resources to design a service like ours.”

Today, Hurricane’s client list reads like the who’s who of the energy industry, including respected leaders such as TransCanada, AltaGas, Atco Energy, CNRL, and the Williams Companies.


Hurricane owns their entire service delivery platform, making them a leader in the IT world where it’s common practice for service providers to simply bundle and resell retail solutions.

“We don’t outsource our cloud, our support, or even our spam filtering,” says Caldwell. “Because we own and operate a formidable cloud, we’re able to deliver everything from shared web hosting to complex enterprise resource planning systems and very large scale data warehousing.”

However, Caldwell is quick to point out Hurricane will scale services offered to specific client needs and preferences as some businesses are reluctant to put everything in the cloud.

“If the client wants a traditional environment with their servers onsite, we can do that,” explains Caldwell. “We’ll monitor the system and make sure budgeting stays where you expect it. On the other hand, some businesses want us to provide an all-cloud environment to avoid the capital expenditure for onsite servers and licensing. In our cloud, we offer secure file storage, desktop-as-a-service, hosted Exchange for secure email, and a range of other services.”

Hurricane specializes in bridging the gap between the industrial site
out in the field and the head office, because we speak both languages.

HUB-Benefactor-Icon-hight“My favorite client response is, ‘We’re open to whatever you suggest,’” comments Caldwell, “and at that point, we recommend hybrid.” The Hurricane hybrid solution blends the traditional model of onsite IT resources with the cloud by placing applications where they perform best. All the client’s systems and processes are then effectively monitored by Hurricane in a single dashboard regardless of where they occur. This offers the client the most effective blend of CAPEX and OPEX.

“With the hybrid approach, the client ends up spending money where most effective for traditional on-site assets,” explains Caldwell, “and we don’t keep them entirely in the cloud which lowers their monthly operational expenses.”

“As a client grows their presence in the cloud and are able to justify in their own minds why they need a managed Internet connection rather than a consumer DSL or cable connection, networking technologies such as point-to-point wireless or fibre become viable.”

Additionally, Hurricane enjoys a close relationship with major hardware and software providers such as Dell, Microsoft, VMware, Cisco, Citrix, AVG, and ESET, to ensure their clients have access to the tools they need for their business. Offering strong value-added services in both software and hardware gives Hurricane the flexibility to step into any IT environment.


“As a boutique consulting group we have to be very careful we position ourselves so people see the value in what we’re doing,” says Caldwell. “The value of IT services is overlooked by many companies, even though inaction costs money. Generally, when systems fail in today’s world, they crash and burn hard. Companies can end up expending significantly more money and effort to fix an IT problem after the fact when they could have averted it by taking preventative measures.”

“In a traditional IT environment, a business buys a computer and runs it until it breaks, often wasting hours of staff resources trying to troubleshoot before calling an expensive consultant to fix the problem.”

“When a business moves into a more modern relationship with IT by outsourcing some monitoring services, the user is still waiting for things to break,” continues Caldwell. “We take a different approach. Hurricane leverages automation to catch problems proactively before they create down-time.”

Taking advantage of the processing power available in today’s hardware, Hurricane utilizes powerful automated monitoring and maintenance tools that handle much of the remedial problem-solving transparently. If these steps don’t rectify a problem, a job ticket is automatically created, altering the first level of human support where the issue is tracked until resolved.

“While many IT services are sold by device, Hurricane differentiates by offering fixed-fee IT services by user,” clarifies Caldwell. “Instead of focusing on how many

While many IT services are sold by device, Hurricane differentiates by offering fixed-fee IT services by user

devices, workstations, and servers a company has, we base it around the user wherever they are working.”

In the ‘bring-your-own-device’ (BYOD) world, individual users might have multiple devices encompassing home, office, and mobile scenarios. This is a potential administrative nightmare for IT support.

“People want to be flexible. They want to be able to get their work done from any location,” adds Caldwell. “SecureShare is a Hurricane service we strongly recommend in any environment. It’s everything people know and love about consumer cloud services, such as Dropbox, in an enterprise wrapper. The data is encrypted end to end, including when in transit and at rest at either end, providing a degree of security that is next to impossible to break.”

The Hurricane approach to BYOD management involves partitioning any supported device to keep workplace and personal information separate. The business data is managed securely, and Hurricane has the ability to remotely administer or erase company assets if necessary. As an added benefit, charging a business for support by user rather than by device frequently translates into lower IT expenses.

“A budget is established with the client to match the expectation of what we’re going to handle,” explains Caldwell. “We’re trying to establish relationships with our clients where everyone in the company is able to contact us directly. At the end of the day, people have a far better rapport with us knowing they have an entire IT department at their disposal.”


“We’re not a commodity,” Caldwell emphasizes. “We are a unique firm with specialized skills and assets that bring value to corporate clients. We fully intend to remain a boutique company that doesn’t lose sight of the service and delivery side of the business.”

As Hurricane grows, their intention is to focus on delivering comprehensive managed services that live wherever the customer needs them to whether it’s in the cloud, the client’s premises, or a combination.

“A lot of IT providers will give you the sales pitch, but with Hurricane, the moment you want to have a candid conversation about IT, we will level with you,” Caldwell stresses. “We will give you the real scoop without the sugar coating, and we’re happy to pull the curtain back and show you the inner workings. Not many other IT service providers will do that.”

From a service delivery standpoint, there is no single point of failure within the Hurricane solution, because over the past few years, Hurricane has been building on technology. Currently, Hurricane is in the process of adding a second cloud facility to give their users geographic redundancy. All monitoring and management services are handled internally in their Calgary operations, giving Hurricane clients direct access to technicians instead of a call centre.


“We’ve got more tech and more capacity than companies four, five, or even six times our size,” adds Caldwell. “We’re currently in expansion mode and adding qualified staff while refining processes to enable our expansion into other corporate environments, such as real estate. We are very competitive on the technical side and can best most other IT proposals.”

“I like being real with people,” concludes Caldwell. “In this economy, that’s the only business model that works.”

We’ve got more tech and more capacity than companies four, five, or even six times our size

A Rare Bird In I.T. – Hurricane Computer Solutions

A Rare Bird In I.T. – Hurricane Computer Solutions






Originally published in the 

March 2016 Issue of Oilfield PULSE