Breaking the Cycle

In a rapidly changing technology environment, yesterday’s innovations are today’s lessons learned. To stay relevant, businesses need to deploy solutions to increase their ability to adapt quickly. Paul A. Simpson and Sovereign Systems’ SovLabs have the answer.

Paul A. Simpson, Sovereign Systems, Managing Director

 Today’s cloud technology market trends talk a big game, promising to change the way in which businesses and individuals consume and provide IT resources. Buzzwords like “speed” and “agility” seduce the corporate world with idyllic images of potential. However, the latest wave of innovation offers little reward to those enterprises that are unable to move out of their own way fast enough to allow for adoption. Companies are being caught flatfooted and having to catch up, either lacking the necessary resources or locked in a perpetual cycle of technology updates.

The challenges that organizations face include the need to prepurchase long-term capabilities and lengthy project turnaround times for updating systems. Sovereign Systems, a specialized solutions provider and cloud services firm based in Atlanta, Georgia, finds that many of its clients would buy capacity for needs from three to five years out, and have to pay for it upfront. Then, they would find themselves in a holding pattern for months, waiting to get it sized, shipped, and implemented. While a common challenge for the IT industry, innovative organizations are able to constantly roll out new features and capabilities to their customers, while traditional methods of delivery are not able to keep up.

“Technology only continues to advance and get more complex. We have the opportunity here to shape that evolution, and that’s exciting.”

“The most successful businesses are continuously striving to deliver more value to their customers,” says Paul A. Simpson, managing director of SovLabs, the innovation and new ventures arm of Sovereign Systems. “This takes the form of new projects, features, and capabilities, and it often falls to the IT department to enable these transformational initiatives.” According to Simpson, this affords more progressive IT departments the opportunity to align themselves to the needs of the business and increase company competitiveness.

More than three years ago, Sovereign Systems recognized that some customers sought to manage IT like a utility, using both private and public clouds. To meet customer demand for these new methods of IT consumption, the company instituted proactive measures to remain relevant by adapting and evolving with this shift. The large hardware reseller started a cloud and virtualization practice, and brought Simpson on board to provide a strategic point of view on these and other emerging issues.

Shortly thereafter, a small team developed organically around the focus of cloud and virtualization
automation. This core cloud cadre became SovLabs. Originally intended to be a think tank with a research and development slant, the group offers cloud extensibility, configuration management, DevOps, and public cloud capability.

With personnel steeped in deep infrastructure architecture and integration experience, backed by agile, full-stack software developers, SovLabs is able to pair a team member’s extensive expertise with a client’s need. This amalgamation of skill sets led to the development of cloud-platform automation, automating slow and error-prone tasks down to the click of a button.

“Everybody is happy,” Simpson says. The compliance department feels confident that human errors are less likely to open up security holes; IT gains the capacity to accelerate the pace of innovation; and as business partners see results, they begin to see IT as allies and not adversaries. “Instead of being able to deliver a dozen projects a year, they can now deliver substantially more, because they don’t have the same types of bottlenecks,” Simpson says. One client, a northeast financial services firm, expects a ten-fold reduction in the deployment time of new, fully configured application environments once SovLabs finishes its active engagement.

So far, customer feedback has been positive. “We’re enabling [customers] to do things, in many cases, that they had no idea they could do before,” Simpson says. A Fortune 500 media company that experienced challenging, multimonth upgrades of its highly complex and critically important broadcast software was reluctant to adopt new features and roll out new releases. “With our help, they are now automating major parts of the upgrade process, which not only speeds up the upgrade but shortens the testing and validation cycle, as they have confidence the software will be configured correctly every time.”

Ultimately, SovLabs echoes Sovereign Systems’ culture of driving excellence while having fun. “We have a small but high-performing team that looks out for each other,” Simpson says. “The team camaraderie makes all the difference when we’re working on aggressive timelines and complex projects.”

Simpson feels fortunate to be at SovLabs, both in the middle of the market evolution and contributing to that change firsthand. “Technology only continues to advance and get more complex,” he says. “We have the opportunity here to shape that evolution, and that’s exciting.”