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Inframon translates its expertise in on-premises datacenter management to customer cloud migration and management through the Microsoft CSP program

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To take advantage of the range of business opportunities related to cloud computing, Inframon translated its expertise in on-premises datacenter management to migrating customers to the Microsoft Azure cloud platform and managing their environments through the Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program. In three years, Inframon opened new niche markets, expanded its business by 150 percent, increased profit margins by 40 percent, and more than quadrupled its average deal size.

Ever since its founding in 2005, Inframon has used the same strategy to gain market share: align its core strength in datacenter optimization with strategic Microsoft technologies. Initially, the company established a reputation for its proficiency with Microsoft System Center data management solutions. As System Center solutions evolved, Inframon used the new capabilities to deploy and manage private clouds for customers. Then Microsoft introduced Azure, its cloud platform. What had been a steady progression for Inframon suddenly began to feel like a revolution.

“The advent of the cloud was a pivotal point in IT,” says Gordon McKenna, Chief Technology Officer at Inframon. “To ride the wave of this revolution, we had to quickly differentiate ourselves with managed services in the cloud. Our datacenter management expertise became our niche service in the cloud, delivered on the Azure platform.”

In 2015, Inframon became one of the first Microsoft partners in the United Kingdom to join the Microsoft CSP program. This move signaled the end of doing business as a systems integrator, offering technical solutions on a project-by-project basis, and ushered in a new era of going to market as a leading “Azure in CSP” managed services provider.

“We consider Azure in CSP a game-changer,” says McKenna. “Customers wanted to migrate from their datacenters to the cloud. We already had that expertise. But customers also needed a vendor to manage their cloud environments, so they could focus on driving their business. We’ve got that expertise as well. Using Azure in CSP, we put it all together with our Hyper Cloud Platform, where we migrate customers to the cloud and manage their environments on a pay-as-you-go basis. Through Azure in CSP, we have a seamless way to deliver a very secure, well-governed cloud to a customer through one monthly payment that covers the customer’s Azure resource consumption and our services. We’ve never looked back.”

Improved profit margins

Today Inframon operates with a new, inherently more profitable business model, resulting in better profit margins. Instead of compensating its consultants for time spent in the field, Inframon now rewards them for delivering projects early by using Azure innovations and automation. Time to market for projects is steadily decreasing.

“As a systems integrator, we had a static profit margin. To increase revenue, I had to hire more consultants,” says McKenna. “After becoming an Azure in CSP partner and offering managed services in the cloud, we’ve gained a profitable business model. We have grown 150 percent and our profit margins are up by 40 percent. That’s because revenue generation is less tied to headcount and more dependent on consultants using the Azure platform to innovate and automate our services for customers.”

Increased deal size

Inframon also links its accelerated revenue generation to the additional value it now can provide enterprise and large mid-market customers. Migrating a customer to the Azure platform and then offering ongoing management increases opportunities to add more services over time.

“We use Azure in CSP to expand our footprint with our customers,” says McKenna. “We’ve gone from refreshing customers’ technology every three years to refreshing their cloud services every three months, so there are lots of opportunities to upsell,” says McKenna. “Since joining the CSP program, our average deal size has grown by more than 300 percent.”

"After becoming an Azure in CSP partner and offering managed services in the cloud, we’ve gained a profitable business model. We have grown 150 percent and our profit margins are up by 40 percent."

- Gordon McKenna, Chief Technology Officer, Inframon

Flexible development platform

For each Hyper Cloud Platform engagement, Inframon assigns a Dev/Ops team to build the templates and automate processes, and its architects design the cloud environment. The company also offers multitiered support services. Customers can opt for infrastructure as a service, platform as a service, backup as a service, or disaster recovery as a service. To boost security, Inframon deploys Azure Security Center and Microsoft Operations Management Suite, which helps the company prevent, detect, and better respond to threats and other potential problems. To provide visibility into cost, customers can request usage quotas and set alerts for departments, projects, and applications. Customers can also use the Hyper Cloud Platform to “right size” their Azure resource consumption, with customers defining service level agreements, recovery point objectives, and recovery time objectives.

“Because Azure in CSP is an agile framework with a comprehensive set of APIs, we can look at specific customer issues and develop a new managed service wrapper for each specific issue,” says McKenna. “Now that we have this platform that we can sell to customers, we have more time and opportunity to differentiate our offerings on top of the platform.”

Expanded business opportunities

Inframon maintains a close relationship with Microsoft to stay abreast of the latest cloud technologies and be the first to offer them to customers. For example, it is taking advantage of the technical preview version of Microsoft Azure Stack, which allows a business to run Azure in its own datacenter, to generate interest among the Inframon financial services customers that tend to run a hybrid environment. “A big reason for our ability to continue innovating our services and opening up new markets is that the Azure platform itself keeps on evolving,” says McKenna.

Inframon is now looking at where it can use Azure in CSP to drive industry vertical solutions to customers. For example, Inframon developed a new solution called JVIT, specific to the construction industry, which eases a key pain point for construction companies that collaborate on large joint ventures. The solution uses Azure Active Directory Premium, within the Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security solution. “JVIT functions as a common platform where companies work together with a single identity,” says McKenna. “Large construction projects last for years, with companies converging for short periods of time throughout, so the flexible CSP licensing model fits their needs perfectly.”

Reduced time to market

Inframon is improving time-to-market for these niche industry opportunities, thanks to Azure in CSP. “It used to take us six months to a year to develop a new offering for a customer. Now that we do this work in Azure DevTest Labs, we can respond in a few weeks,” says McKenna. “Instead of offering generic products, we’re getting a reputation for bespoke services.”

Instead of selling infrastructure projects to IT directors using a technical value proposition, Inframon now sells managed services to C-level executives, emphasizing business value and using simplified subscription-based pricing. “Using Azure in CSP to take advantage of the innovative cloud technologies coming from Microsoft means we can ride the digital revolution wave to our best advantage,” concludes McKenna.

"Using Azure in CSP to take advantage of the innovative cloud technologies coming from Microsoft means we can ride the digital revolution wave to our best advantage."

- Gordon McKenna, Chief Technology Officer, Inframon