Ensyst got cloud covered

By Toby Bowers, Cloud & Enterprise Business Group Lead, Microsoft Australia

Earlier today, we announced the launch of the Microsoft Azure Geo in Australia. This is a landmark moment for Microsoft in Australia, but we’re even more excited about the difference that the new Geo will make to our customers and partners as they transform their businesses in a cloud age.

We’ve been catching up with a number of our partners ahead of the Azure Geo launch to learn how the platform is helping them to thrive in our mobile-first, cloud-first world.

In this post, we are turning the spotlight to Microsoft partner Ensyst, and the work its General Manager, Nick Sone, and his team is carrying out in the cloud in Australia.

It’s been a great couple of years for the professional and managed services provider, with growth of 20 per cent year on year allowing it to expand to 100 employees – and it’s expected to reach 25 per cent growth during the current year. Added to this success are several local and global Microsoft Partner of the Year Awards, including Microsoft Country Partner of the Year and Microsoft Cloud Excellence Partner of the Year.

Mr Sone is keen to attribute at least part of Ensyst’s success to its desire to meet three key performance indicators: staff satisfaction, customer satisfaction and revenue. The business continually polls staff and customers to determine how they’re feeling and where the business can improve. “We need to run at a certain rate, so revenue is our other metric,” he said. “I’ll obviously want to grow that in the 25% range in the next year.

“My belief is that if we get the first two KPIs right, then the third one runs behind very nicely.”

Early testing reaps promising rewards

One of the drivers behind the launch of our local Microsoft Azure offerings is to open up a whole new range of possibilities for our customers and partners, and we’re looking forward to seeing Ensyst capitalise upon these as it works to meet its three KPIs.

“We’ve been training our people in Microsoft Azure and infrastructure and the platform for the last nine months, and we plan to introduce a training program to help newly-recruited engineers deal professional and personably with customers,” Mr Sone said. “In fact, we’re probably over-skilled right now. As soon as the Azure datacenters launch, we’ll hit the ground running very fast.”

Ensyst has been running some early tests in the Microsoft Azure cloud in Australia, and the early signs are very positive for all involved. “Provisioning of the virtual machines is in seconds and minutes, not hours, and our technical team is very impressed with it,” he said. “This gives us a lot of confidence in sales to be going out there and promoting Microsoft Azure with customers.”

Leveraging Microsoft technologies to innovate and add value

Ensyst strongly advocates innovation as a way of hitting its second KPI of customer satisfaction, meaning the local Microsoft Azure offerings will empower it to build upon this aspect. However, for Ensyst innovation doesn’t always meaning coming up with something new or leading edge, it’s about adding value to what customers are already doing. It’s an area in which Microsoft offers support.

“What we do is rely on our partners – mainly Microsoft – to go ahead and do some of that really strategic thinking for us. We watch the market and our partners, then ask ourselves: ‘How can we innovate and add value to what they’re doing?’” he said.

In this context, Mr Sone said the company was looking to provide services to customers that leverage Microsoft Azure and the cloud delivery model. “We’re talking to our customers and prospects about what they’ll need, what will add value and what will solve problems for them.”

These services will typically involve modernising customers’ IT to take advantage of trends such as the consumerisation of technology and activity-based working, with Microsoft Azure used as a way to address such trends in a secure, rapid, and cost-effective way.

Focused on enhancing its capabilities with Microsoft Azure, Infrastructure-as-a-Service [IaaS] and Platform-as-a-Service [PaaS], Ensyst is also building its expertise in ExpressRoute – which enables the creation of private connections between Azure data centres and infrastructure that is on-premise or in a colocation environment – to gain an advantage over other partners. “We’re on the preview for ExpressRoute as well, so that when it launches and customers and the big players are scratching their heads for years, we’re going to be delivering solution after solution after solution,” he said.

The three lessons of cloud computing

With cloud becoming a key part of everyday life and demand for services enormous, I asked Mr Sone what three lessons he would give to any partner or customer getting involved in cloud computing. The first and most important of these was not to forget the end-user.

“What we’re doing technically may work, but if you don’t bring end-users along for the ride and understand how they interact with new solutions, you won’t have a successful project,” Mr Sone said.

The second lesson is that the public cloud market is focused on reducing price, which encourages users to believe that cloud is easy and cheap. For integrators such as Ensyst, the challenge becomes to articulate to customers the complexity of some of the projects they want to complete.

The third and related lesson is that customers’ in-house technology teams may not always have kept up with the complexities of the cloud. As a result, using in-house IT support may not always provide an excellent outcome. “We’ve learned along the way that we need to coach our customers that if they’re going to support a cloud service themselves or make changes after we’ve handed it back to them, they’ll need some training,” he said.

“They need to understand that it’s not the same as an on-premise solution and they need to learn about the differences.”

In the coming months we can’t wait to see how Ensyst builds upon its early success with the Microsoft Azure Geo, and the new offerings it will take to market ahead of its competitors to drive innovation in the industry. When we announced the private preview of the local Azure Geo, Microsoft’s Managing Director for Australia, Pip Marlow, said Microsoft, its partners and customers would drive unprecedented levels of innovation and business transformation. Ensyst is a brilliant example of this, and its customers are going to really benefit from the new services it will offer in the not too distant future.


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