General Information BizTech Podcasts

42. Solving The Massive Talent Shortage in Security & Tech. With EVOK Technologies

November 9, 2022

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Listen to the powerhouse team of Brandon Ivey and Christoph Uhlig from Evok Technologies. They live and breathe cloud & security sales. Being uniquely positioned to understand what a customer is going through, they talk modernization, augmenting teams, and the struggles they help customers overcome.

Transcript of episode can be found below.

Josh Lupresto (00:01):

Welcome to the podcast that is designed to fuel your success in selling technology solutions. I’m your host, Josh Lupresto, SVP of Sales Engineering Telarus, and this is Next Level BizTech.

Josh Lupresto (00:16):

Hey everybody, welcome back. I’m your host, Josh Lupresto, and this is the Next Level BizTech podcast. So today we are actually wrapping up the first series in season two, and we’re talking about managed services and how we’re solving this tech talent issue that we got going on with security and the broader technology landscape. So if you tuned in on the first episode, you heard Jason Stein and he talked about what Telarus is doing overall from the practice and how we go to market and what we’re seeing and the trends and things like that. And then we had one of our great suppliers on where, where Thrive came on and talked about all the things from a technical perspective, their products, where they’re fitting, how they go to market with those differentiators, all that good stuff. But today we get to hear from what I think is, is really critical. We get to hear from the partner’s perspective. So I got some good friends of mine. We’ve been spending a lot of time together lately. We got Brandon Ivey and Christoph Uhlig from EVOK Technologies, gents. Brandon, welcome.

Brandon Ivey (01:12):

Thanks for having us, Josh. It’s really great to be here.

Josh Lupresto (01:17):

All right, so let’s kick this off. Brandon, I’m gonna come to you first here. I I, you know, part of my favorite story is how do you, how do you get started? Everybody has a different path. Some people super linear, some people do crazy windy stuff and end up in this world. I’m curious to hear how you guys get started in this.

Brandon Ivey (01:38):

Absolutely. so it’s kind of interesting. I think Christoph and I both have similar backgrounds and kind of went through similar trials and tribulations, if you will, through our career path. We both started out in entry level sales jobs coming outta college, worked up the corporate ladder, led sales teams, became, you know, directors or VPs and led led to overall go to market strategies and, and new logo acquisition sales. And you know, interesting enough, neither one of us really wanted to be in management roles any longer. And we found ourselves starting at a cloud company on the same day in the same role. And what was interesting enough for, for, at least from my perspective, is that you know, we kind of hit it off from the get go. I think Christoph may have had a difference of opinion, but he was like, Hey, I want to be aligned with that guy.

Brandon Ivey (02:28):

He seems competitive. And we fed off of that. And so what we did to begin with was we started interviewing all of the top reps at the organization trying to figure out what was the secret sauce to be successful, right? And long story short, most of them didn’t have a lot of positive feedback. It was, you know, if you got lucky enough to be tagged to that right account that was growing, et cetera, et cetera then you had some success. So we kind of stumbled and went through some, some different challenges the first few months at that cloud company. And and then we realized we needed a force multiplier. And I had some little exposure to what the channel ecosystem was more from a, more, from a competitive standpoint based on where I was when I was leading a sales team, There was a, a channel.

Brandon Ivey (03:18):

And, and so we introduced that. We started working with some regional players and we started integrating that into our go to market strategy. And effectively, after six months at the cloud company, we took it to the executive team and the board and said, Hey, I think this is what we need to do. We partnered Christoph and I effectively partner, We created our own business model within a business, if you will. And I think that’s what what’s kind of allowed us to have the success that we’re having coming up the, or at least kicking off this, this new venture two and a half years ago.

Josh Lupresto (03:52):

Love it. Christoph, any any interesting door to door experience? I mean, I’m a vacuum guy.

Christoph Uhlig (04:02):

I think, you know, me too. I think we talked earlier and you teed that one right up, but no, like, just like Brandon, I think, you know, we were willing to do what we, we needed to, to, you know, learn the art of hard work and creativity. Yeah. We’ve both had, you know, plenty of door-to-door opportunities to, to really grind. We’ve had some really unique creative opportunities in our career to, that took some critical thinking. But, you know, all of that led up to the fact that I think sales and just working with people was like really important to us. We wanted to help people solve problems. And, you know, I know we’re gonna, we’re gonna talk a little bit about our, about our business in a bit, but I think being so integrated into sales gave us a unique perspective to help us be more effective for our customers today from a procurement and buying standpoint.

Christoph Uhlig (04:55):

I often say I think the best defense lawyers once we’re prosecutors and vice versa. Understanding, you know, the intricacies of the other side, you know, really, really well allows us to, I think, serve our customers a lot more effectively. But yeah, I mean, to Brandon’s point, when we, when we got to this cloud provider us realizing the power of the channel and really what that force multiplier could do was, you know, a game changer. It was like an aha moment for me for sure, because I had had zero exposure to the channel. And when we looked and we interviewed these you know, previous sales reps for best practices and what’s replicable and what can we do to be successful here the reality was they weren’t closing new logos. They weren’t getting in front of new, new companies. And, you know, the channel gave Brandon and I that opportunity,

Brandon Ivey (05:48):

That company’s a channel first company now, by the way. So clearly the strategy works.

Josh Lupresto (05:53):

I may be biased, but I, I think this is where the industry is going. . It is funny though. I mean, it is funny, as long as we’ve been doing this and as long as Telarus has been in existence, it’s still fascinating to me how many people are just not familiar with the channel yet. And obviously, we’re all seeing the, the convergence of doing away with some of the direct sales and moving more headcount over to channel and supporting channel. But, you know, just when we think it’s, it’s been in existence for a while, it’s still, if you zoom out, it’s still so early in some instances.

Brandon Ivey (06:22):

I think a lot of that’s too with the, there’s been a lot of focus on specific technologies over time. So just the simple fact that we’re discussing, you know, MSP or MSPs today, you know, that’s kind of broadening out that scope, right? So, you know, I think it’s only gonna get bigger and bigger, like you mentioned.

Josh Lupresto (06:39):

Great. All right. So we we’re talking about your business now. Tell everybody, fill us in. You guys have a cool go to market model, and I love some of the focuses that you have and the technology side, but, but let everybody know what, what is EVOK.

Brandon Ivey (06:53):

Sure. Well, first of all, EVOK stands for enable validate, optimize knowledge transfer. And just like mention mentioned that Christoph just mentioned, essentially we wanted to take what we thought were, how would a customer wanna procure things? How would they want to run a process? How would they want to evaluate the market? How would they essentially want to ensure that they have a consistent buying experience that’s productive and mitigates bad customer experiences coming at the back end? So we took those kind of four terms, if you will, layered that into what we thought would be the right customer engagement. We kind of trialed that, if you will, with a few, you know, anchor tenants, found out it was productive. And then we’ve replicated that now over the past three years. But you know, who, who we are essentially, like Christoph mentioned, is we did a lot of time in sales, and the last thing we want to do is be a sales rep to our individual clients.

Brandon Ivey (07:50):

We, we have really formed relationships with them now to be an extension of the team to provide all that intellectual property to them that allows them to realize, Oh, hey, there is a better way of doing this. Or potentially they’re just getting exposure to a provider that they would’ve never even looked at because it’s not in Gartner, or that doesn’t come up on an SEO search, or whatever it might be. And I think that started to change that dynamic of like, Oh, this is interesting, or this is advantage, or potentially this is just providing more value than what we were doing or how we were doing it in the past. So yeah, but we founded it three years ago. It’s been going strong with groups like Telarus supporting us, Andena, you know, enabling us. We’ve seen a lot of success and our clients have, you know, they’re like, When can we be a, you know, a reference? How, how can we, you know, help scale your business? What does this look like? And, you know, that’s very rewarding and it’s something that, you know, most sales people probably don’t get to experience in that similar role. Right. So yeah, it’s been great.

Josh Lupresto (08:51):

Good point. So, so let’s switch gears here. I want to talk about, you know, first Christoph, how you learned about this technology, and then really maybe just let’s weave that into the first deal. We’re gonna get to a more recent deal as we move this on and kind of into the weeds and, and the intricacies of it. But, but talk to me about, you know, when you’re, was it when you’re at that cloud company, was it before that? I mean, what, what’s your first exposure to this whole managed services landscape? And talk to me about just that first deal. What was that like?

Christoph Uhlig (09:19):

So I would say, you know, our experience working at hosting gave us immense insight into managed services in general. And just understanding the criticality of what that offering ultimately does. You know, both, both from a provider perspective, but also more importantly from a customer’s perspective. But, you know, back in, I dunno, call it 2012, 2011, 2012, you started seeing a massive shift from OnPrem to the cloud, right? Like people realizing, hey, AWS is something, Azure is something private cloud, and getting this out of our facility and into a data center that’s redundant and supported. I mean, it’s something we need to, to move towards, but not a lot of people knew how to do it. And, you know, we started we started meeting with just tons of customers that wanted help with that journey. They wanted ideas, they wanted a roadmap. They wanted to figure out how do we, how do we take this on-prem, you know, and move this into the cloud, and how can we, you know, get some of these mundane tasks of, call it monitoring and patch management and antivirus and performing backups and the day to day care and feeding of the environment.

Christoph Uhlig (10:38):

How do we get this off our plate and free us up to focus on the core competencies of our business and, you know, what’s really driving our company forward? And then secondly, how, how do we solve things like database management and database architecture and security services, and some of the stuff that, frankly, they couldn’t even find people, you know, to, to fill those roles. And, and so you have a system administrator that’s potentially getting paid a hundred k a year patching servers, you know, 75% of his time, and then the other 25% of his time moonlighting as like a security analyst or, you know, a database administrator. It, it just wasn’t scalable. So I think when companies started realizing, Hey, we need to get this stuff off prem, and we need to more importantly find a partner to co-manage this so we can create a racy matrix that’s clearly defined, Hey, we wanna continue to do these things at the application layer, but from the OS down, let’s pass this off to a partner that we can depend on that can build a highly redundant, highly manageable, scalable infrastructure.

Christoph Uhlig (11:48):

And I, I think that’s really when, you know, we, we first got exposure and it was just coming by the waves, and it hasn’t stopped today, by the way. Companies are still, you know, we’ll get into it I’m sure a little bit later, but they’re still looking for this more than ever. And then when I shift into kind of thinking about, you know, call it first deal, I won’t, I won’t probably get into the first deal, but I’ll tell you about a deal that I think is super applicable to, to this conversation. So we’re working, and this is, you know, as EVOK this was post our days at posting, and we’re working with a large university here in Colorado that you know, unfortunately they were, they were ransomware about four years ago. They ended up paying the ransom, you know, it was a really tough situation for them.

Christoph Uhlig (12:38):

And, you know, they looked at the problem and, and said, Gosh, you know, we need to, we need to figure out a solution to, to help us, help make us more secure. And what they did, you know, for better or for worse they started throwing technology at the problem, right? You know, they started looking at EDR solutions, and ultimately they, they they selected carbon black. They looked at, you know, different high high profile security partners like Palo Alto, and they you know, architected their entire environment for Palo. They incorporated, you know, email filtering. But what they didn’t really count on was the noise that all of those tools are gonna create. And those tools are great, they’re great tools but you can’t solve issues necessarily just with tools. What you need is services, right? And they had 2,500 endpoints.

Christoph Uhlig (13:32):

They had over 600 lab workstations across the university. They had over 200 VMs within their environment. And like I said, they were just getting noise. But really, I think what they figured out after just, you know, years of trying to solve this with, you know, patching tools and, and technology into the problem, they realized we need a sim, we need Security operations center that’s staffed 24 7, that has multiple shifts, that’s constantly looking at our logs, constantly looking at our alerts, and we need, you know, a true MDR solution we need. And the r of that, you know, managed detection and response being the most critical aspect, we need a partner that can actually react on our behalf, can quarantine the environment, can be an extension of our team. By the way, I didn’t mention it, but this university had one security officer. That’s it.

Christoph Uhlig (14:23):

Yeah. Yeah. Nobody, So he’s getting alert, overload, alert fatigue. His, he hadn’t looked at the alerts in, you know, over a year just because it was just piling into his email. So for us to go out and really, you know, find a partner help run a competitive process that, you know, not only did he get insight into what’s available in the market, but you know, by our process, I think he was, was able to make the right decision for his organization to really bring in a group that could act as an extension of his team and help deliver, you know, on his, on his behalf. And I, I’ll tell you the other thing that I want to comment on is, you know, there’s providers that exists out in the market today that have great technology, and they may struggle on services, They may be having service related issues, and that technology is only as good as the services behind it. It doesn’t matter if it’s the best in the world, upper right corner of magic from a technology standpoint, unless the service and methodology and approaches sound, it really means nothing.

Josh Lupresto (15:34):

So, yeah, you, you brought up a couple good points in there. I wanna go back to I’m curious, you know, we always talk about, and I, I try to determine are we in the middle of paradigm shifts? Did the paradigm shift already happen, Right? In hindsight, we, we all, you know, we, we can see a little clearer when some of these things happen, you know, when the bull market started, when the bear market started, all of that. But if you think back to the hosting days and kind of that, let’s call it oh eight, nine, ten, eleven timeframe. So you’ve got this, you know, AWS launching major product, right? Oh 6 0 7, kind of in that era. You’ve got the economic collapse of when people went, Wait a minute, I used to buy all this stuff. I used to CapEx outlay it. Now I’m a little leery on that, you know, and, and you know, there’s the whole, when AWS comes out, now, this is just for dev, It’s never gonna make it to prod. I mean, this is not the same uptime I can get in a data center. And don’t get me wrong, there’s places for gear and data center. Not, not disputing that, but I’m just kind of curious, is that, is that about that time where you really felt that wave of when things shifted and people started really taking this seriously and said, Yeah, we gotta look at this, we gotta look at it, and it’s just that inevitable wave that hasn’t stopped. Did it, did it start around that time as well for you?

Christoph Uhlig (16:44):

I, I would say so to a large extent, you know, and cloud back in those days is kind of like, what security is today. People use these blanket terms security, and it’s like, well, what does that actually mean? Like, let’s unpack that. That’s a, there’s a ton of ways you can go about, you know, talking around security. And the same thing held true for cloud. I think back then they, they broadly said cloud. Of course, there’s the concept of private cloud. There’s on-prem, there’s public cloud, meaning multitenant within a provider, and then there’s true public cloud with the likes of Azure, aws, and Google. But I think a lot of people back then felt this unbelievable pressure to go to the hyperscalers, right? To go look at AWS to go into Azure, because that was the flashy lights. Those were the things that were in the news.

Christoph Uhlig (17:31):

That was what the trades were saying, that back, the, the next big wave is, and it’s not wrong for, for certain applications if you’re, that’s why startups are, were perfect for AWS and, and Azure, and that because they actually architected their applications in the hyper scale of, of cloud, and largely to a certain extent for the scalability of those. But, you know, what we saw was a mad rush to AWS and Azure, and then a pullback, you know, back into, you know, private cloud and, and realizing like, look, DevOps may not be for everybody. It, it may, you know, there’s applications that are fairly predictable and have static workloads that still need, you know, a certain amount of, you know, managed services and support. But, you know, not everything needs, you know, there’s not one size fits all for all of those environments. But I, I would say, you know, it’s about that time to your point that, you know, we really started having those conversations and seeing that shift.

Josh Lupresto (18:30):

Yeah, good

Brandon Ivey (18:32):

Point. I was gonna say, yeah, I mean, I think economic pressure always plays a role in a lot of technology transformations across enterprises. I mean, even now we see large enterprises looking to go to more back to the old school approach of bare metal services, right? Like, there’s a lot of different use cases for that. I mean, I don’t know if that’ll be widely adopted, but there’s supply chain issues and that economic pressures. So, you know, those two things are driving of behavior, just like in cyber security, we have insurance policies and rates going up, it’s driving of behavior, it’s having specific impact. Back then it was colocation, CapEx expenses transitioning to an opex focusing on ebitda. You know, all of those different things play into what enterprises make as decisions, right? And so I think as long as we’re staying on top of those market trends and understanding what’s taking place, not only in the technology spectrum, but holistically you know, that helps ensure that customers make better decisions.

Josh Lupresto (19:32):

Yeah, good point. So I wanna talk about relationships. You know, we, we, you know, as you look at this, right? All, all of our partners have started out in different places, in different skill sets, in different technologies. Some started in cloud and then went to networks, some started in network, and then went into, you know, all the other things. So I’m, I’m always kind of curious, I mean, you guys kind of brought it up a little bit earlier, but maybe Christoph, I’m, I’m kind of curious about, you know, when you start having these strategic conversations, when the wall is down, right? When, when the customer really feels like you’re an extension of their team, what, what does that do for the relationship with the customer when you’re, when you’re covering all these things?

Christoph Uhlig (20:15):

So I think it’s critical. And you know, Brandon and I have been very passionate about this topic for, for a long time. You know, we truly believe that if you go solve the mission critical objectives for an organization, or you help solve, you know, a bridge towards securing applications, keeping applications available helping with, you know, the great resignation is a real thing. People are leaving companies. Yeah. People are having a hard time finding people. People are having a hard keeping people, If you go solve mission critical objectives for organizations, you get everything right, Like the floodgates open, you gain their trust, you gain almost everything that you could possibly want out of that relationship. So, you know, we typically are passionate about wanting to focus on the cloud and security piece of the business as a primary objective. It’s always something that, you know, we get into with, with customers is tell me about your team.

Christoph Uhlig (21:17):

Tell me about your skill sets. Tell me about, you know, what you guys are trying to accomplish. Tell me about the gaps that you may have across your organization. And as we start to understand like, where is their pain coming from? Where are they looking to improve organizationally? And we can start helping to identify areas and unbelievable providers that can come in as an extension. It, it truly does help secure and, and build that relationship, but it’s not a, it’s not a one deal closed type of situation. But the reality for a lot of these companies is, you know, the days of going to like an IBM and expecting to get everything under one roof are, is dead. Like, instead, you know, there’s laser focused really good providers that exist out in the market today that are really good at one or two things.

Christoph Uhlig (22:08):

And it’s important for Brandon and I to know who those guys are. And being able to partner with a, with a company like Telarus and, you know, your great engineering team, it, it, it’s just been hugely advantageous to us because we can get insight into, okay, what are these other hundred customers across the US experiencing from these providers? Have they, have they been happy ending? Have they been happy stories? Have they been, you know, hey, they said all the right things at the beginning throughout the sales process, but then, you know, it was a disaster, you know, once we got into the door. That’s hugely important for Brandon and I to know what we’re getting our customers into. It’s just like when I go, it’s not a perfect analogy, but when I go car shopping, you know, every three, four years, it’s unbelievable the technology that has changed, you know, and is available.

Christoph Uhlig (22:57):

I don’t know. So I have to really just rely on the sales guy who’s, who’s telling me that. And that’s not necessarily fair. So to have a guy that’s all they’re doing is, is analyzing the industry and the market and ranking and, and scoring providers. It’s super important for us to give that same insight to a CIO who also doesn’t have the time over more than three or four or five years of analyzing what’s new, what’s different, what should I be aware of. So yeah, relationships are huge, but most importantly, it’s, you know, solving those mission critical issues, I think gains that trust immensely.

Josh Lupresto (23:35):

Good point. Brandon, I wanna, I wanna come back to you. I wanna talk about challenges. You know I think we’re, we’re, we’re painting a really good picture here of, there’s a lot of, of value that we add, right? When, when we come in and you guys come in and, you know, you’re helping the CIO build something, build something, build something, and then this CIO might bounce and the company loses him. You know, you got great value in that from, you’ve helped him, you’ve helped establish yourself at the last company. Now he’s leaning on you going, What’s the new latest? What’s the greatest tech that I should know? So certainly like these, these things take time to grow and to grow some of these relationships. So I’m curious with what you’ve been through from a challenges perspective, what are the difficult parts of these conversations?

Brandon Ivey (24:18):

So we’ve gone through that, I’m sure, you know, most people have where the CIO or the executive IT person leaves, or you just end up having to get, go work with another individual. So potentially put in all that effort. You know, one thing that we’ve realized is you learn the most about an organization by running a process. And so that’s probably the most challenging thing, especially if someone new steps in. So I’ll, I’ll take that as a secondary part of kind of like, what are the challenges that we see, right? So I think the biggest challenge, especially if you’re focusing on mission critical workloads or whatever’s probably the most pertinent or complex to the business is a, actually establishing what do they have in place today. You know, usually it’s a barrage of things over the last decade that maybe somebody’s still just paying a bill et cetera.

Brandon Ivey (25:10):

So you have to establish that baseline, understand the expectations and needs of what’s going forward, and then being able to provide some thought leadership around all of that. You know, that’s a, that’s a very challenging process, right? And especially depending on if you have a non-technical executive that can make it more challenging. If you have somebody who inherited just a number of different things, now you’re picking through, you know, it’s like you know, you’re, you’re, you’re just having to, to dive so deep into something that potentially they don’t have access to, they don’t have information from, and then it leans into the providers, right? So now where we have to take it a step farther, and a lot of times those groups don’t have, you know, runbooks set up, they don’t have any kind of scripts put into place. They don’t have any kind of you know, diagrams or vis or, or architecture references or security references, anything, right?

Brandon Ivey (26:01):

It’s just essentially they were sold a product at some point, it’s been potentially implemented, they’re paying a bill, and now it’s, you know, it can be our job to figure out, well, we need to make sure that we check that box because you’re either using it, not using it, or how is it applicable to the business, right? And that’s where, when you start trying to wrap that back into thought leadership and providing, okay, well, we need to go down that path and leaning on the different engineers across Telarus or the providers or whatever it may look like, to come up with a holistic solution that actually solves everything that they have if they need it, in addition to what’s needed or expected. And then providing like, well, maybe we can consolidate aine or evolve all of those things into the next level of, you know, where market trends are going or what’s taking place in, in an overall environment.

Brandon Ivey (26:47):

And I, that’s, that’s by far the biggest challenge. And I mean, you know, I think everybody probably experiences that. And you know, that kind of leans back into the relationship piece that we just discussed, where if you run that process with someone and you come out the back end where they’re like, Thank you, then you know, you did your job right and you’re probably gonna get another opportunity. And that’s our whole objective is we wanna do our very best because then they’re gonna give us that next opportunity. If we do that, we get the next project, we get the next opportunity. If they move to another business, we get to follow them there. And so that’s been, it’s been very rewarding from that perspective.

Josh Lupresto (27:27):

You know it, it’s funny, we talked in the beginning about this whole channel thing where we feel like we’ve been doing it a while, but it, it, you know, you bring a good point that reminds me that I think the last people to really hear about and understand this channel are the customers. Well, they don’t care, right? Why would they? And, and, but once they understand it, it’s, Wow, I didn’t know this existed and this is amazing. Please help me. So it’s been, it’s been really cool to your point, to see a lot of these go from, Hey, I don’t know who you are. I think I’m pretty cool working some of these, you know, these technologies myself, I don’t really understand quite where you can help me. You know, are you a middle man? And when they take that to, you know, to your point, let us run a process.

Josh Lupresto (28:08):

Let us help you with some of these mission critical workloads and applications, thinking through things that they hadn’t thought through. There are sometimes those, those aha moments of you take it from, I didn’t need you to, I can’t live without you. Please look at this next project that we have coming in six months, 12 months. You know, I’ve seen three, four years out some of these crazy things. And that, that, to your point, that’s, that’s the aha moment. I think when, you know that, that you’re looped into that process. That’s the, that’s the click factor. But sometimes it, it takes time and, you know, and these enterprise deals too, I think we talked about getting flat footed when some of these, these CIOs or whatever leave. It just underscores, geez, now I gotta know procurement. Now I gotta know tech. Now I gotta know business leader. I, you, you just constantly trying to make sure that you know all the right people in the account. And yeah, your point, it just takes time.

Brandon Ivey (29:02):

You summed up exactly what we just discussed, right? I mean, I think we have a very large client here in Denver is I think eight or 9,000 employees. And it was that exact same process, right? It was, you know, I don’t really understand it or what it, you know, what value is this really gonna bring? And essentially we just let us run our process. And if you see value at the end of it, fantastic. And if you don’t, you know, we part ways and ,

Josh Lupresto (29:27):

I love, I love the takeaway approach. That’s like, it’s one of my favorites cuz it’s here, here it is, this, look, we’re so confident that this is gonna work. It doesn’t all good.

Brandon Ivey (29:37):

We even had other organizations, they realized how much time, effort data, things that we bring to the table that they’ve paid us for these engagements, right? So there is real value, there is you know, a real model here. And I do think that the more that you run strategic processes and not just a, you know, a transactional, like Christoph said, it’s not just, you’re not just going and selling something and then moving on to the next new logo, right? We’re we truly are getting entrenched into that organization and becoming an extension of their team. So,

Josh Lupresto (30:13):

So let’s talk Brandon, let’s talk an example here. Sure. What I like to, to get into this part of it really is let’s talk about you know, what kind of environment you walked into. And what I really like to hear is, was it really what you were told it would be, or what you thought it would be when you really got into it? What did you find? What was the problem? What was the technology? And then I’m ultimately, what was the problem that you solved? How did you do it? What kind of tech did you put in? And, you know, what was the outcome of all that?

Brandon Ivey (30:43):

Sure. well, we can talk about, let, let’s see. Here’s a good example. We talk about relationships, things of that nature. I had a, a really good friend who I went to CrossFit with, you know, he was in it, never worked with him when he was in it. And I was on the, the sales side when he landed as the c as a COO at this new organization, you know, I reached out to him and said, Hey, this is what I’m doing. And he kind of had the same other conversation, like, you know, I’ve worked with guys like you before or, you know, I’ve worked with a, you know, a big bar or something of that nature. And I was like, Let’s just run a process. Let’s do some evaluations, let’s see if it proves out value. If it doesn’t, you know, we’ll go from there.

Brandon Ivey (31:26):

So he made an introduction to the director of IT who is essentially the person that I needed to work with. Once we got into it, he was very apprehensive as well. He was like, Well, why do we need to evaluate these things? You know, I already did this two years ago and we found all these different problems, right? And so, like Christoph mentioned earlier, we start at the cloud and cyber security. That’s kind of where we start. This is what our focus is. First of all, it differentiates us in the market. Second of all, I don’t think a lot of people are kind of leading with those conversations. And and so he said, That’s fine. Like, we could go through this exercise. I mean, I think he thought he already had this buttoned up, right? So they were in colo, they’re a SaaS company.

Brandon Ivey (32:09):

They’ve had, you know, they had outages, they had security vulnerabilities. They have a small IT team. They essentially have no care and feeding of that environment. Or if they do, they’re focusing a big portion of their time during that time on it when they can’t focus on growing the SaaS company, right? There’s just a plethora of challenges that they were seeing. And then cost was a big factor. And essentially cuz he went out to market and he doesn’t know what fair market values are. And a lot of the times when you get that first quote or depending on what provider you go to or what specifically, if you didn’t establish that baseline really well, like you can’t just go get a snapshot of vCenter and take it out to market. That’s not a good process, right? So once we kind of peeled back the onion and we understood all the different dynamics that go into it you know, we said, Okay, well I think you can definitely drive this to more of a private cloud environment.

Brandon Ivey (33:04):

They’re more cost economic from that perspective than go into a public cloud. Plus you need an extension of your team, be it based on your team size and all these things. And so we started extrapolating that and figuring out which workloads need to be highly available, have DR associated with them because of different compliance agreements and things that are in place. So they still kept something colo actually, they have one or two racks now from what they currently had, but they moved the other 89 servers into a cloud environment and started leveraging a main service provider. That’s part of the Telarus ecosystem, their phenomenal group. We’ve had great success with them. And you know, at the end of the day it’s very trans transformational from a couple things, at least from an executive perspective. Now, they don’t have reputation. Some of their clients are very large clients, you know, household names if you will.

Brandon Ivey (33:53):

So no more outages, right? They’re highly available. It’s transformed their reputation from that perspective. They’ve actually layered on that some of their talk tracks about how this technology enables their end clients, right? So they sell a SaaS platform, it’s a pos, their consumers are buying it. This is how you can scale, this is how we can make the overall buying experience for your clients better, right? So, you know, all of these things are truly transitioned their business from IT being a cost center to IT providing value to their overall organization and they’re clients, right? So I would say that’s where we get excited about transformational. Usually it’s not flipping, you know, from one sin to a, a difference in, that’s not usually a transformational change. It’s how is it enabling or driving that business forward? And there’s a lot of other use cases or applicable things that probably came out of that deal. But I would say that’s a good high level. Christoph, were you gonna mention something?

Christoph Uhlig (34:49):

No nothing other than, you know, I think that was a really good example of, you know, a small IT team that needed help, needed direction, needed, Brandon’s guidance. You know, they hadn’t gone out to market and looked at this for years. And so, you know, having Brandon as an extension, I think it was eye opening around what is evolved in the market, what’s available to them. And yeah, it was just a really fun project to, to see and be a part of.

Josh Lupresto (35:16):

It is, it is always interesting when you, you know, we, we, from an engineering perspective, we, we always go in and say, What do you need? What do you need it to do? What’s the problem that it needs to solve? And then when we ask that question of, Okay, but if you could do this, if you could evolve your application, if you could go do this, your, your, your competitors are doing this, if you could do something like that or, or, you know, have a leg up, would that be game changing for you? And, and I think you get them to think differently because sometimes they just think, Ah, I’m just never gonna get to that, or I don’t know that it’s possible. Or to your point, you know, we looked at it two years ago and it wasn’t possible. How much change is in this industry in two years, right? With all of the tech and everything flooding into here. So yeah, I love, I love hearing a good transformational story because yeah, you’re, you, you brought it up and you nailed it where it’s not a cost center, right? It has the power to change the business and, and change the, change the company. So, awesome story.

Christoph Uhlig (36:11):


Josh Lupresto (36:13):

All right. Christoph, I need you to wrap us up. Take us home, man. I, I want to hear, you know, if I’m a partner that’s listening to this, and maybe I haven’t, I haven’t ventured as deep into cloud or into security, and we talked about kind of where you started, we talked about some of the difficulties that you guys have been through and these conversations, but maybe just talk to me about people that aren’t, aren’t comfortable with this or haven’t stepped into it. What’s your advice? What, what are you recommending in that, right? Because not, not just for now, but as this continues to evolve in the future.

Christoph Uhlig (36:46):

Sure, yeah. I mean, honestly, I think I’d take a step back and, and come to the realization that this isn’t that complicated, right? Like, don’t get too caught up in the technology. Don’t learn about every single EDR solution or every single cloud solution or every single infrastructure solution. Just have conversations with the business team and leaders within an organization. Get to know their team, get to know, i, I said this earlier, but I mean, I think it’s a super important point. Get to know what are the skill sets? How big is the team? You know, where are the gaps that you have? Whether it’s infrastructure, security, network you know, database, it doesn’t matter. Just get to know like where are the gaps? I mentioned it earlier, but this idea of the great resignation. This thing is real, like people are struggling to find people.

Christoph Uhlig (37:37):

And do you know where most of these people all are? They’re at providers and they’re at providers because they’re super smart. Not that, you know, the people down in the trenches aren’t, but they’re really good highly skilled professionals that wanna work with hundreds of different customers and have unique challenges every single day to solve. They’re not working for one company. And because those guys are typically getting kind of bored. And so get to know the company, get to know their challenges understand, you know, what are they looking to accomplish? Where are they looking to go? What are their core competencies? And how can you bring solutions and ideas to the table that free them up to focus on those core competencies. You know, that’s really, that’s really it. Talk about the business, get to know what their ideal outcomes are, and generally positive, good opportunities of ways that you can assist, you know, come right outta that.

Christoph Uhlig (38:33):

And lastly, I’m preaching to the choir, but lean into Telarus, right? Like, get to know the team, get to know the channel managers, get to know the engineering team. You know, we greatly appreciate the support that, you know, you folks have brought to us as an extension of our team. You know, we can’t be experts on every single technology. We can’t be experts on every single conversation. And just knowing that, you know, we can bounce ideas off you, you don’t even have to be on every customer call or any customer calls for that matter, but just being a soundboard to us as we work through just different, you know, talk tracks internally. You know, we just wanna say we’re grateful to, you know, you and your team, Josh. You guys have been great. And and yeah, that’s my very basic advice for somebody to just dive in.

Josh Lupresto (39:23):

I love it. I love it. And you, you, you brought up a good point. I was reading a stat last night that, that makes this a math problem, right? The, the title of this podcast is How in the world are, are we gonna ever solve for this whole talent shortage in Tech? And, you know, it was starting before the great resignation, now it’s just gotten ultimately so much worse. But from a security perspective, right? We, we talk about the great security certification, the C I S S P of, of gives us a great holistic view on how security impacts the business, not just technology. Mm-Hmm. . And it focuses on all these different domains. There are roughly 90 to a hundred thousand certified CISSPs in the United States, and there are 20 to 30,000 job openings that require a C I S S P.

Josh Lupresto (40:11):

Now, I’m not a math expert here, but to your point where that talent is, we know where that talent is, and it’s at that supplier side. So yeah, you’re, you guys are, you guys are dead on. I think you guys are out there. You’re crushing it, recognizing that this is where the talent is. And, and you guys have done a phenomenal job of mapping all that and appreciate the kind words. Just appreciate the opportunity to, to work with you guys. So no, it’s, it’s been awesome and we’re excited to, to continue with this go. So, Christoph, I I appreciate you bringing us home and thanks so much for coming on today, man,

Christoph Uhlig (40:43):

Josh, thanks for having us. We had a great time and look forward to doing this again in the future.

Josh Lupresto (40:47):

Brandon, you as well, appreciate you coming on. Thanks. I know you guys got a lot going on, so thanks again for spending time with me, man.

Christoph Uhlig (40:54):

Thanks, Josh.

Josh Lupresto (40:55):

Okay. All right, everybody. That wraps us up. I’m your host, Josh Lupresto, SVP of Sales Engineering Telarus. And this is Next Level BizTech.