A Sydney-based managed service provider (MSP) has identified partnerships with tier-two integrators as its major growth strategy.
Sonnet already provides white label managed services for two large multinational technology vendors. It has also formed a strategic partnership with Leading Solutions where it provides managed services for Leading's customers while the integrator procures hardware for existing Sonnet clients. Now discussions with other integrators are underway.
"We want to provide managed services around a number of different vendors for integrators so they can change variables to fit particular customers but it's essentially the same for everyone. It's very scalable," managing director, Baden Wright, said. "Managed services is not about buying the tools and turning it on; it's about having a services culture that creates visible, repeatable processes.
"It takes a good two years to build that and bed a team down so integrators run the risk of burning a lot of goodwill with customers if they try to do it themselves. We can give them that maturity overnight but want depth of relationship. There's a big difference between those who sell product and the trusted advisors who provide information about running a business; they're the people I'm interested in. I think the market potential is enormous."
Formerly a hardware reseller, Sonnet has moved about a quarter of its existing end-user customers into managed service relationships. These include Alcatel-Lucent, AAPT and Tyrell's Wines. Having recently landed a major outsourcing contract with Jetstar, Wright estimated managed services now account for about 80 per cent of its revenues.
Although he has only been with the company for nine months, and took control in January, Wright said Sonnet had been dabbling in managed services for a few years. It had now implemented a full Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) service desk, moved the operational side of its business to a 24x7 environment and started offering hosted services.
"We are one of the few organisations that has the end-to-end service stack working properly," he said. "Our network management consoles are integrated with the service desk, so when we see an event that raises an alert it goes into a problem management system and an engineer is assigned seamlessly. It happens quickly without the enormous amount of manual processes associated with a traditional managed services environment."
Wright's resume includes major Telstra projects, such as the relocation of ABN Amro in Sydney's CBD and an outsourcing contract with Qantas. He decided to get into the managed services game after witnessing the myriad environments customers were deploying during his time with the telco's ICT subsidiary, Kaz Group.
"Customers spend too much time picking vendors rather than focusing on what they do with their own business," he said. "At the end of the day, a PC is a PC and a mail platform is a mail platform. IT should be a utility like electricity that you can plug in and know that it just works."
Before joining Sonnet, Wright spent about six months looking for a company suited to deploying the managed services model he had in mind. He found some with the necessary scale but said they would have needed a complete cultural overhaul, while others had five or six good customers but were providing a different service for each rather than running a single model.
Although convinced the IT industry must eventually adopt a managed services approach, Wright said there was still plenty of resistance in the market.
"People feel threatened when they are presented with a managed service because of the perception that it will take their job," Wright said. "The reality is that we have a fairly slick model for managing pretty mundane stuff. Handing that over gives internal IT teams the time to look at things like mobility solutions that make IT a differentiator."
Now he hopes to sell the same message to trusted advisors in the local integration community.