How Lightning-Fast Changes to Infrastructure Helps Keep Our Customers Happy

HPE Compute

These days, we all use the GPS navigators on our phones to get around. It is easy to forget that not too long ago people used paper maps. For much of human history, however, we had only the stars to guide us. The Pleiades, as one of the brightest constellations to Earth, has a special history in guiding lost souls.

We named our company Pleiades in part to honor its role of guiding sailors. Our company's mission is to provide guidance to small and mid-level software application resellers. These kinds of organizations do not have access or resources like major companies.

Specifically, we are committed to researching and learning new technology so that resellers can best advise their own clients. In this way, we act as ambassadors between the ever-changing fields of Information Technology and the people directly applying that knowledge to small businesses. Accomplishing this goal takes more than reading and communication. It requires building a collaborative relationship with multiple clients regarding a variety of technologies. Only through this cooperation can we truly prepare our clients to select the best applications for their customers' needs.

Expanding your offerings is counter-productive when it overcomplicates your relationship with customers.

As a testament to our values, early on we decided to select an area of expertise. We avoided scope creep by clearly identifying what we understand and what is beyond our expertise. We are focused almost exclusively on IT infrastructure. While this limitation defies the conventional wisdom of always expanding, it has helped us to build a tremendous amount of trust with our customers. They can always know that when we agree to become their partners, they will walk away with the best solutions and results possible.

My Role in the Journey

When I first arrived at Pleiades, it was the definition of a startup. It was basically just founders and a dream. For nearly 15 years, it has been my job to learn and teach something new every week. I love my job because I am constantly evolving in understanding.

Clients call me with unknown new technology. It is then my job to research its tenets and prepare a presentation and mock application for the client. In more specific cases, I may even join client teams to develop specific solutions. They need to trust that I am an impartial reference point who is there to provide guidance. This is much the same as the role of star constellations in the sky.

The other thing I love about my job is how much my assistance helps others. In one specific experience, I attended a conference where the main speaker was a former client. I was both gratified and humbled when the speaker thanked me during the speech. Several of the slides the speaker used were borrowed from the presentation I gave the former client. That made me pretty happy.

From a concrete, everyday perspective, we spend most of our time doing presales and training work for technology companies. We specifically assist a variety of distributors and resellers by reviewing requested software applications and helping them create potential solutions for their customers. We are certified partners with a number of major companies, including HPE. Our clients use our expertise to develop proofs of concept or direct training programs.

Finding Our Niche

If you work for a large IT company, you probably wonder why a separate company is needed for that function. The reality is, those working for smaller companies don't always have the staff to both perform ongoing research and development and create IT solutions for customers. Our niche is providing advanced research for companies so that they can directly focus on client solutions. That allows them to remain on the cutting edge of new developments without committing resources to ongoing testing and experimenting.

For example, say a customer wants to move their operations away from a public cloud. A distributor selling private cloud infrastructure may use our services to create an operational demo. They could then practice using that demo and receive training on its specific operation. By the time the final customer is brought into the loop, the details of operation are set and there are few questions. This helps to eliminate the uncertainty and creates further trust between the customer and the distributor.

The problem is, developing a completely new environment to test and demonstrate a new technology can take days. Since all we do is learn and teach new technology, my capacity was limited to no more than two demos per week. The rest of that time was spent researching the new applications and building mock environments.

Our New Reality

HPE Synergy composable infrastructure was such a powerful tool for us because of its great speed and flexibility. HPE Synergy allows us to make incredibly fast changes to the infrastructure. That means we can provide demos and training for completely different environments within hours. Changing a composable environment into one suitable to present a cloud solution can literally be completed overnight.

Perhaps the best example of the power of HPE Synergy is how it alone converted at least one unintended customer. We received a request to demonstrate some technologies related to the Internet of Things. As is frequently the case, a simple request became an extended project to develop a specific customer solution. Finding that solution, however, required regular infrastructure changes as we tested and demonstrated one potential solution after another.

In the end, the customer decided not to proceed with the Internet of Things project. However, they were absolutely sold on using HPE Synergy for their own internal infrastructure. They knew any system capable of hosting a variety of use cases was definitely flexible enough for their ongoing management needs.

From Reaction to Proactive

Prior to HPE Synergy, I spent as much as 60% of my time learning, building, and testing technology tools. That level of time commitment often put me into reaction mode. I came in every day working against deadlines for a client presentation. With the increased flexibility and efficiency of the new architecture, my capacity has increased from one customer a week to as many as one a day.

Spending all of your time on maintenance means you’re spending no time on innovation.

That is potentially a huge bump toward the future success of my company. It also means I have more time for proactive research and testing. Having the time to research new technologies prior to the customer call is a truly powerful tool to demonstrate expertise.

In an even better development, a number of composable ecosystem tools are frequently mentioned by our clients. Chef, for example, is a great device for code-based infrastructure management. Ansible is a powerful tool for configuration and deployment. Docker, on the other hand, allows you to contain everything you need to run an application in one package.

There are dozens of application tools like these that are frequently part of an overall client solution. Having the flexibility to quickly change the underlying environment helps you take the guessing out of understanding how these applications might interact with each other or other software. This ability to demonstrate real-time enables us a more experimentation-based search for a solution.

Guidance for Future Journeys

The future of technology will be about flexibility, speed, and adaptability. Today, many companies find themselves in a bind between the speed of change and the power of stability. Every year, technology companies are talking about the next big thing that will change the world.

Organizations must remain concerned about operating on the cutting edge of products, IT, marketing, and distribution. Falling behind in any one area could mean the difference between survival and bankruptcy. But every single change must be carefully researched and tested before implementation. Change can also cost significant money and staff time.

Organizations must focus on cutting-edge products, IT, marketing, and distribution. Falling behind in any one area could mean the difference between survival and bankruptcy.

That is why so many companies increasingly depend on organizations like Pleiades to help them decide which innovations to adopt. We could not accomplish this task without an overwhelming commitment to learning and teaching.

HPE is such a fantastic partner in this regard. They are every bit as dedicated to research, development, and information dissemination as Pleiades. That gives us the confidence of knowing that they will evolve with the times while providing us with a consistent source for information, training, and certifications.

Together, we can both keep a watchful eye upon sailors searching the information oceans.