Ahead: Look for a partner, not a service provider

Todd Fortwengler, senior director of managed services sales at Ahead, wants to sound the alarm on an issue he sees too frequently among enterprises that begin their cloud journey alone.

“I often encounter companies that moved to the cloud too quickly without a plan,” says Fortwengler. “For too many, their vision of ‘land and expand’ evolved into an unwelcome reality of ‘land and sprawl’ before they got help that drained budgets and failed to meet expectations. They failed to bring in a partner who could provide the guidance, expertise, and experience required to be successful.”

Previously with Roundtower – one of several strategic acquisitions made by Ahead to expand the company’s national footprint and diversify its portfolio over the past several years – Fortwengler has worked closely with numerous organizations to move to a cloud-first infrastructure and make sure the process goes smoothly and results in an effective environment.

“The cloud offers the ability to use tools to automate the repetitive tasks that otherwise take up too much time,” he adds. “With the cloud enterprises can focus on objectives that further the business while managing costs and making the organization safer. For example, the cloud can serve as a disaster recovery landing zone that is consumption-based, exceptionally reliable and available, and easily scalable – all attributes that minimize downtime and mitigate the risk of cyberattacks.”

Having grown from a single Regus office opened in 2007 by Dan Adamany, Ahead’s CEO and founder, the company today employs more than 1,600 people, among them more than 1,100 engineers, who serve Ahead’s more than 900 customers. These include companies in various industries, including financial services, education, energy, insurance, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail.

Ahead has also consistently earned accolades for being a great place to work. The company won five 2023 Top Workplaces Culture Excellence Awards, as well as a 2023 Top Workplaces USA Award that ranks it in the top 25 companies with 1,000-2,499 employees.

Not surprisingly, the company’s rapid growth is a direct reflection of the quality of its cloud offerings, the expertise and experience inherent within them, and its proven track record of success. These attributes contributed to Ahead being named one of the VMware Cloud Services Providers, an elite group that has a proven track record of significant success and expertise across the entire VMware stack.

“We’ve strived to become a close partner in our customers’ digital business transformations,” says Fortwengler. “It is a partnership based on our experience and innovation in disciplines like the cloud, security, data, and development work – capabilities that enable us to deliver modern applications and effective DevOps, and highly flexible, high-performance cloud platforms, as well as powerful automation. These capabilities reflect our close work with crucially important partners like VMware.”

Notably, Ahead has completed more than 1,000 VMware implementations and has more than 600 VMware certifications. This year the company also received the 2023 VMware Partner Collaboration Award for the Americas along with Amazon Web Services. The award celebrates VMware partners that have worked together collaboratively to deliver high-value, tailored solutions to customers.

For customers that want to continue to use a known and trusted platform, but want to move to the public cloud, Ahead uses VMware Cloud on AWS to transition their workloads to the cloud using a known management and deployment layer. The company also relies on VMware Cloud Disaster Recovery to ensure that business-critical workflows have minimal downtime.

“VMware is a strategic partner across all aspects of our business and as our managed services practice grows, the solutions we can provide through VMware’s Cloud Services Providers program will continue to increase the value we offer to customers,” adds Fortwengler. “VMware technologies are the keystone of modern IT infrastructure. By adopting VMware Cloud Verified solutions, customers are able to modernize their operations and applications with the skills they already have and minimize or completely eliminate any disruption to business operations.”

Not surprisingly, Fortwengler believes the transformative impact of the cloud will only increase. But he does wish more companies dedicated extra time to planning at the start of their cloud journey. And he has a recommendation for enterprises considering it.

“Before moving to the cloud, get assistance to build an organization-specific cost modeler,” he says. “This roadmap will show which workloads to move, when to move them and to which cloud instance, all of which helps ensure a smooth transition during migration and implementation. Most importantly, remember that partnering with a managed service provider is about more than checking a box. You want to work with an organization that takes pride in, and has a sense of ownership over, the environment. That relationship has to be one of caring and trust.”

Learn more about Ahead and its partnership with VMware here.

Cloud Management, IT Leadership