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Running with Microsoft in the clouds

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Time marches on. Technology however sprints. For true innovators in the field, the challenge becomes not only keeping pace but making sure your customers stay in the race too. For leading cloud service provider, Inframon, that’s just another day at the office.

Founded in 2005, the UK-based company has evolved from a consulting firm into a hybrid maker of business dreams. Yesterday, its customers had their feet on the ground. Today, Inframon works on putting heads in the cloud. “We’re cloud transformation specialists,” said Gordon McKenna, CEO and co-founder of Inframon. Just in case you’re wondering, that’s not a real industry term, just the company’s tagline and state of mind.

Yesterday’s news

Inframon proves the point that in the world of Microsoft partners, size does not matter. Because although it’s not one of Microsoft’s biggest partners, Inframon has become very well recognized as a leader and one of the first adopters of the Cloud Service Provider (CSP) program for Microsoft Azure. According to McKenna CSP is part of their recent success, “We're definitely seeing a higher growth in a shorter period of time from CSP customer engagements.” That growth in CSP engagements is paying off too.

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Moving to an annuity-based model actually gives the business more balance. It allows us to be able to predict costs over a longer period of time…we've seen our revenue increase tenfold.

- Gordon McKenna, CEO and co-founder, Inframon

In Inframon’s world, it sees a lot of legacy apps, yesterday’s news, rusting up infrastructures. Functional yes, but not conducive to mobility or cloud experiences. “Cloud technology is the new revolution driving more efficiencies in our customers’ business and more products to their end users,” noted McKenna. To get customers to enjoy the fruits of technology’s labor requires converting them into lean, mean agile business machines. “We look at where we can drive their infrastructure into PaaS scenarios or SaaS scenarios,” said McKenna. “We find that's where the business value comes from.” How much business value? Try 40 to 60 percent savings in the total cost of running their business.

Prior to the cloud the company focused on datacenter updates. The cloud proved a natural next step. “We embraced Azure,” said McKenna. “We became the first SI in the UK on the Azure Circle program, focusing on how we could create cloud scenarios for customers using both public and on-premises technology.”

By integrating two seemingly disparate environments, Inframon figured it could help companies move to more advanced technology, discover new efficiencies, and increase profits. “Azure is the big game changer in the hybrid cloud,” said McKenna. “It’s seamless, with one platform, and one development language.”

An extreme makeover

That’s not to say the cloud journey didn’t come with bumps in the road. For Inframon, becoming a cloud specialist forced it to realign how it sells its services not to mention reconfigure sales. “Our business has gone through a massive transformation,” said McKenna. For example, the company had to fill a new role: customer technology specialists. These people interact between the sales department and the technical staff. Inframon also expanded DevOps, making it an integral part of its delivery methodology. They’re IT pros with coding skills, who understand infrastructures and configuration codes.

We’ve embraced the DevOps world. We’re driving that into our business so that we can be flexible and agile.

- Gordon McKenna, CEO and co-founder, Inframon

As DevOps has changed so too has the company’s projects, which often incorporate projects from the development world in place of traditional projects. The company also now has project managers who are Scrum masters and specialists in driving Sprint methodologies.

And then there’s sales. “We’re now taking risks on behalf of customers which means having a different kind of sales force,” said Matt Eckersall, sales and marketing director for Inframon. “Having a sales team that understands how to build deep, long-term relationships with customers is more important than it ever was on a projects-based environment. That means hiring the best, and being clear on the skills and character you need.”

More than 100 percent business growth

As the business has changed, so too has the revenue model. Inframon moved from charging on a per-project basis to an annuity-based model with three-year support contracts. Customers don’t want Inframon to just implement cloud services, they want it to support them. “Our services are moving into this modern commercial world where a customer pays for what they get from us as they consume more infrastructure,” said McKenna. Long-term contracts mean more predictable revenue.

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More and more, we talk to customers who just want to focus on their core business and allow us to take operational control over a lot of their infrastructure.

- Matt Eckersall, Sales and Marketing Director, Inframon

To increase revenue in a per-project based model requires securing more projects, but in an annuity model you can increase revenue holistically. More than 50 percent of the company’s revenue currently comes from cloud-based projects. The company has also increased its business by more than 100 percent and revenue by tenfold. Those are the kind of numbers any business would take without asking questions. Increased revenue has led to an influx of new talent, much of which has come during the last 18 months. “Cloud definitely has been a growth-enabler to our business,” said McKenna.

Inframon continues to expand its markets, including the Middle East. “We're finding that the relevance of what we've been doing in the UK is really hitting home with customers in that region as well,” said McKenna. Many of its customers there are excited about the Azure stack because of its ability to extend Azure into a local datacenter.

Inframon’s embrace of change and Microsoft’s new technologies have led to great outcomes for Inframon and its customers. That drives the company to stay in sync with Microsoft.

We'll continue to move in concert with Microsoft’s product roadmaps. We'll keep that culture of agility and innovation in parallel with the speed of Microsoft and our end product delivery.

- Matt Eckersall, Sales and Marketing Director, Inframon

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