VAR500: 20 Titans Of Transformation

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Ahead didn't waste any time. It dove headfirst into cloud computing, virtualization and the entire stack. And it all started with a realization: The infrastructure just isn't that important anymore.

"The infrastructure--it's becoming less and less pertinent and the way something is presented and managed and how it's billed are becoming more important," said Dan Adamany, president of Chicago-based Ahead.

But as Ahead prepped for this massive transformation, customers were at a standstill, uncertain where to move in a time of rapid innovation, shrinking budgets and dwindling resources.

"Most customers right now are 100 percent overwhelmed with what's happening," Adamany said, adding they're bombarded with new technologies and offerings but are sinking in an IT quicksand.

Ahead saw that as an opportunity. When the company launched four and a half years ago, it was with the mission to bring customers aboard with these emerging and transformational technologies. As Adamany said, Ahead was purpose-built for the shift.

To bring customers up to speed with the cloud, Ahead made a monstrous investment in building its own private cloud in its lab, where it can show customers what a true private cloud deployment looks like, what it takes and how it works.

"We're trying to understand and show customers what's real and what's not," he said. "It opens their eyes and their minds. Our goal as a company is to become an adviser to our customers."

Elsewhere, Ahead invested heavily in VMware and ramped up its sales force and technical teams to grow as VMware moves up the stack; and in Cisco's Unified Computing System, where it was one of the first partners to offer Cisco's virtualization play.

Ahead also makes sure all engineers are cross-trained on its entire product set. "As an organization, we want each of our engineers to understand the entire stack," he said.

By Andrew R. Hickey

NEXT: Axispoint

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