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Eye-opening opportunities

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Samba Tech used Azure to drive its growth, not just support it

Gustavo Caetano was perfectly happy with Amazon Web Services—until he looked into Microsoft Azure. He moved his company to Azure for media technologies he says are "years ahead" of Amazon’s, plus entirely new business opportunities. Now, he’s netted US$3 million in funding to enter the US market and is eyeing 100% annual growth. He has one word for the move to Azure: "life-changing."

“Not planning” to succeed

Gustavo Caetano didn’t plan on going into business for himself. He didn’t plan on becoming the leading online video platform in Latin America. He didn’t plan on adopting Microsoft technology and, most recently, he didn’t plan on making a major push into the US market.

But all that has happened. Now, Caetano’s company, Samba Tech, is looking at 100 percent annual growth. It seems this 33-year-old entrepreneur is “not planning” his way into becoming a major force in media distribution throughout the Americas.

How has Caetano done it? An important factor in his unusual success is his uncanny ability to identify and take advantage of opportunities. It’s how he got into business, for example. Caetano had expected to go to work for a major company in his native Brazil but, one day in 2005, he bought a new mobile phone and tried to download some games—only to find few options.

While most of us would have registered irritation, Caetano “saw an opportunity: a problem that needed to be solved,” as he puts it. He found a UK-based company interested in entering the Brazilian market for mobile games, and set himself up in business to provide the needed bandwidth.

Samba Tech became a big mobile game distribution in South America. Then, margins began to falter as competition grew and the market matured. Other entrepreneurs might have been stymied, but Caetano saw an opportunity.

He refocused Samba Tech on a bigger, and previously underserved, market for video streaming for media groups, universities, corporations, and other private organizations—including FIFA, the World Soccer Cup organization.

I’ve dreamed of this success and with Microsoft we can make it a reality

- Gustavo Caetano, CEO, Samba Tech

Caetano exercised the same unerring eye for opportunity in 2015 in a very different way. To support the massive technology needs of his business without building and maintaining a massive IT infrastructure, Caetano had turned to Amazon Web Services. And after three years, he was happy with the Amazon cloud platform.

So, when Microsoft invited him to look at Microsoft Azure, he wasn’t expecting to make a change—but he was also not one to pass up a potentially momentous opportunity.

“Eye-opening” Azure

Caetano had thought of Microsoft as “old school” but what he found was a Microsoft “more humble, more flexible, and laser-focused on cloud computing.” And what he found in Azure was eye opening. “Oh man, Microsoft is years ahead of Amazon in video and media technology,” Caetano recalls thinking after his exposure to Azure.

For example, Azure has state-of-the-art technologies for video transcoding, digital rights management, media services, livestreaming, video on demand, speech-to-text, translations, and more that he found unavailable, or suboptimal, in Amazon.

The man who built his success by taking advantage of opportunity decided to take advantage of Azure. Caetano had been relying on 15 vendors, in addition to Amazon, for the video technologies that Samba Tech needed. By migrating his 20-petabyte-a-year infrastructure to Azure, he was able to consolidate those vendor relationships to just one: Microsoft.

The result does more than just save cost. Because the vastly simplified video workflow no longer passes through multiple vendors, Samba Tech also sees faster performance and greater reliability—and so do its customers, which is reflected in more competitive service-level agreements.

Performance, reliability up

Another benefit: some of those other technology providers were also Samba Tech’s competitors. By moving to Microsoft, he avoids being dependent on them. Caetano says these benefits will only grow as Samba Tech takes advantage of other Microsoft technologies, such as Azure Machine Learning and Power Platform.

A partner, not a supplier

The video and media technology in Azure was only one factor in Caetano’s decision to move from Amazon. The other was the way Microsoft wanted to be not Samba Tech’s supplier, but its strategic partner.

“I saw that with Microsoft, there was tremendous business upside, compared to Amazon,” he says. “Microsoft could help us generate leads, grow our business, and become a global player. Microsoft really wants us to succeed and they’re helping us to do it. We haven’t had this partnership with another vendor before.”

For example, Caetano cites the relationship he has with the Microsoft Chief Executive Officer in Brazil, a relationship that includes the discussion of new go-to-market plans for Latin America. And Microsoft is helping Samba Tech to move its business beyond the borders of the Latin American market.

Entering the US market

Samba Tech worked with Microsoft Ventures on its 2016 entry into the US market. Microsoft, for example, introduced Samba Tech to potential customers and participated in demonstrations that combine Samba Tech and Microsoft technologies. In June, Samba Tech launched the Azure-based Kast. It’s a mobile video app designed to give enterprises more immediate and interactive team communication and collaboration.

A whole partner ecosystem

Caetano sees another gain from the relationship with Microsoft: access to the Microsoft partner ecosystem. For example, Samba Tech is teaming with Microsoft Partner Network member company softwareONE to help sell its services, and it envisions additional technology and business partnerships with Microsoft partners.

We believe that we have tremendous growth ahead of us—and our relationship with Microsoft is essential to realizing this growth.

- Gustavo Caetano, CEO, Samba Tech

A $3 million prize

Already, the move to Microsoft has netted a big prize for Samba Tech. “We’ve raised $3 million for our US expansion,” says Caetano. “And our adoption of Microsoft technology and relationship with the company was absolutely a big factor in that. The market is validating the choice we made to move to Microsoft.”

Right vision, right path, right focus

It’s a choice that Caetano validates, too. “Our move to Microsoft is life-changing for Samba Tech,” he says. “Microsoft has much more than a cloud platform. It has the right vision, the right path to achieve that vision, and a real focus on helping its customers—its partners—to succeed. We believe that we have tremendous growth ahead of us—and our relationship with Microsoft is essential to realizing this growth. I’ve dreamed of this success and with Microsoft we can make it a reality.”

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